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Israel accused of being 'apartheid state' by US black rights group

Black Lives Matter slammed by pro-Israel groups for singling out Israel for 'acts of genocide' against Palestinians
Activists holding a "Black Lives Matter" protest in New York (AFP)

The US-based Black Lives Matter movement has called Israel an "apartheid state" and said it is joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign over acts of "genocide against the Palestinian people".

The Platform of the Movement for Black Lives, which speaks for the wider campaign and calls for the “end to the war against Black people”, on Monday issued the campaign's first comprehensive document setting out positions on US federal policies.

Platform document addresses mostly American foreign policy, but singled out Israel in light of the billions of dollars military aid given to Israel by the United States

The charter states: “Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the book that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people”, and added that the US, through its relations with the country, was “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people”.

Shatha Hammad, who was part of the Palestinian delegation to Ferguson, Missouri, to learn about Black Lives Matter, told Middle East Eye that the Platform's statement was a sign that international civil society was becoming aware of the Palestinian cause.  

“We learned so much from the BLM movement when they came to Palestine and I know they learned from us too,” Hammad told MEE. “I truly believe that the more movements that come together to support each other, the closer freedom will be for us all."

Pro-Israel and pro-Jewish groups were however quick to condemn the BLM statement.

The Jewish Community Relations council based in Boston said it planned to disassociate from any group aligned with Black Lives Matter.

“We reject participation in any coalition that seeks to isolate and demonise Israel singularly among the nations of the world," it said in a statement.

“We are deeply dismayed... specifically the co-opting and manipulation of a movement addressing concerns about racial disparities in criminal justice in the US, in order to advance a biased and false narrative about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict”.

BLM was set up in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and to fight for what is says is the "virulent anti-black racism that permeates" American society.

Palestinian activists famously used social media to give Black Lives Matter activists tips on how to deal with the inhalation of tear gas, after the police violently cracked down on protests in 2014 that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri following the death by the police of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.  

Activists aligned with Black Lives Matter have also frequently visited the occupied West Bank as part of “solidarity tours” aimed at learning about the situation on the ground.

Prominent Black artists and actors, including Danny Glover and Lauryn Hill, released a video last year to highlight the connection between African-Americans and Palestinians living under occupation, following the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014 that coincided with the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Under the moniker "Black-Palestinian solidarity", the group said it was founded "in the course of resilience against the merciless edge of state-violence, protesters in Ferguson held up signs declaring solidarity with the people of Palestine".

Numerous solidarity protests have also been held in London following the recent outburst of protests against police and state violence towards blacks in the US.

Activists this morning shut down routes to key transport hubs in Britain, including London's Heathrow airport and a motorway in Birmingham, in protest at deaths in police custody and the deaths of black asylum seekers in immigration detention centres.

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