CHICAGO, Aug. 22 — A handful of African-American leaders who are top advisors to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), and who represent more than 9 million people, today rejected the anti-Israel stance of the Movement for Black Lives, an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Fellowship advisors representing three African-American Christian denominations, who form The Fellowship’s African-American Advisory Council and are involved in the organization’s increasing bridge building with the African-American community, include Rev. Dr. Kenneth C. Ulmer, of L.A., vice presiding bishop-at-large with the Global United Fellowship and senior pastor-teacher of the Faithful Central Bible Church; Rev. Dr. Carroll Baltimore, of Alexandria, VA., immediate past president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention and senior pastor of the International Community Baptist Churches; Rev. Dr. Edward L. Branch, senior pastor of the Third New Hope Baptist Church and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention; Rev. Dr. Deedee Coleman, pastor of the historic Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church and served as chair of the Progressive National Baptist Convention’s Commission on Social Justice and Prison Ministry; and Rev. Dr. Glenn Plummer, founder, chairman & CEO of CTN, the first African American-owned Christian TV network in America and the newly appointed Ambassador to Israel for the Church of God In Christ (COGIC), all of Detroit; and Ms. Kristina King, of Chicago, The Fellowship’s director of African-American outreach.
The Fellowship advisors and African-American leaders — while applauding the overall Movement for Black Lives (MBL) agenda — criticized the Israel-related portion of its policy platform labeling Israel as an “apartheid state” and accusing it of genocide. The MBL is a separate organization that is associated with the wider Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African American community,” The Fellowship’s advisors said in their joint statement. “The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.”
The MBL recently issued six “policy demands” that included this: “The U.S. justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people… Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people.”
In fact, The Fellowship’s advisors said, Israel remains a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, while real genocide took place during the Holocaust, in Rwanda and now in Syria. Israel has sought peace via a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and there are complex reasons peace has not been realized.
The Fellowship advisors also wholly refute the claim that Israel is an apartheid state, saying Israeli Arabs are full citizens who fill leadership roles including Knesset members and judges, while Israeli security measures are aimed at fighting terrorism. Â
“We may not agree with everything that Israel has done, but let us not be dishonest regarding the motives.Â This is not about race, it is about security, a government’s most basic and fundamental responsibility to its people.”
Further, “we see the danger of passing along hysterical mistruths and sound bites even as we watch the current presidential election. It is not helpful,” the African American leaders said. “At its worst it can breed hatred and bigotry, which of all people, we should not condone against anyone — black, brown or white.”
They added: “The Jewish community has been an ally of black America, most significantly during the civil rights movement and even today. Together these two communities have been the conscience of America leading the fight for human and civil rights for decades. Jews have been our reliable friends, just like Israel.”
“We are proud to have such esteemed advisors from the African-American community leading us in defending Israel and leading the charge against the movement to demonize the Jewish state,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship.
About The Fellowship:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces in helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide — and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.3 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Miami, Toronto, Seoul, and Sao Paulo. For more information, visit www.ifcj.org.