TEL AVIV – The co-author of the new Movement for Black Lives platform that accuses Israel of “genocide” defended his decision to use the term in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Ndugga-Kabuye told JTA that while he understood why Jewish groups disagree with the statement, he was unsure why it garnered so much attention.
He claimed that the charge of genocide was in keeping with Israel’s actions and compared it with similar charges leveled at the U.S. by black activists. He also said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of many international conflicts U.S. black activists feel a connection with, the report said.
“The way we look at it is, we take strong stances,” Ndugga-Kabuye, a New York City organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, told JTA. “The demand we’re making is we’re against the U.S. continuing funding and military aid to the government of Israel. These are all things that are going to be in debate.”
The platform also calls Israel an apartheid state and backs the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, as well as calls for the U.S. to cease providing military aid to the Jewish State. This while the Movement for Black Lives had nothing to say about actual apartheid tendencies of the Palestinian Authority, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s ban on Israelis living in a future Palestinian state.
“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” reads the “Invest/Divest” chapter of “A Vision for Black Lives.”
The text prompted an outcry from Jewish groups, condemning the use of terminology such as “apartheid” and “genocide,” with some saying it an affront to the true victims of genocide.
Ndugga-Kabuye countered with the claim that state actions do not necessarily have to be at the scale of Holocaust or other historical mass murders to merit the term “genocide.” He said his use of the term was not unlike We Charge Genocide, a group that opposes police violence in Chicago.
“We’re talking about a structure of violent deaths that are state sanctioned, that are without accountability, and that are ongoing,” he told JTA. “We can say this is what’s happening in Palestine and not equate it with what’s happening in South America. It doesn’t say it’s the same number of people being killed or the [same] manner of people being killed.”
Ndugga-Kabuye said that even though the MBL supports other international conflicts, the Israel paragraph was longer because “there’s a certain prominence to it, and that may require us to go a little more in detail.”
He added that the MBL did have a particularly “special connection” with the Palestinian cause. “We stand in solidarity with Palestine, but it’s not any different than our connection with the Somali community. It’s not any different than our connection with the Colombian community.”
Ndugga-Kabuye said that while he understood that the genocide term could prevent some Jews from joining the Black Lives Matter movement, it was “something we have to consider, but it’s also something we have to accept.”