The killings this week of African Americans Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police have sparked soul-searching and protests across the nation. Thousands have rallied against police violence and racism towards blacks. In Poland, President Obama took the time after midnight to deliver a sobering speech on the racial disparities in America’s criminal justice system. Both liberals and conservatives have called for reform.
Meanwhile, the New York University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was busy trying to pin the police shootings on the world’s only Jewish state. On Thursday, the group—which advocates the total boycott of Israel—posted the following on its Facebook page:
The irony of critiquing racism in American society through the bigoted displacement of responsibility for it to Jews in the Middle East was apparently lost on SJP. As was the fact that the sordid history of American violence towards black people far predates the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. (And let’s not even get into the libelous and offensive allegation of Israeli genocide, for whose refutation one need only consult the official Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, which records the Palestinian population’s exponential growth since Israel’s creation.)
What’s particularly pernicious about the posting is that by erasing the American history of predatory conduct towards blacks and instead exporting culpability to a scapegoat, SJP short-circuits any necessary national conversation about U.S. police violence. As long as shadowy outside forces can be blamed for the problem, there will be no internal reckoning.
As of this publishing, despite critical comments on its Facebook page, NYU SJP has not apologized for crudely instrumentalizing the suffering of African Americans to disingenuously attack the Jewish state—or corrected their misspelling of Alton Sterling’s hometown of “Baton Rouge.”
This is not the first time NYU’s SJP chapter has awkwardly attempted to blame American problems on Israel. Last November, the group was a signatory to a statement that attributed high city college tuition costs in New York to CUNY’s purportedly “Zionist administration.”