What Martin Luther King Jr. Didn’t Get About Israel

Ahjamu Umi
Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at a rallyDr. Martin Luther King Jr. was such a principled man that even the slimy snakes who worked so tirelessly against him while he was living have no choice except to speak respectfully about him today.  King was a man driven by principles.  Something many people have absolutely no understanding about.  As it relates to the movement, he had such integrity that he was equally respected by the “establishment” civil rights organizations as well as the Black Power militant groups.  One question Dr. King was unfortunately greatly confused about was that of the zionist occupation of Israel.  Like most people today, King was unable to make a distinction between the respected religion of Judaism and the despicable political zionist movement.  Many people believe these two very different and separate entities are one and the same.  Judaism, is one of the world’s major religions.  Its origins unquestionably evolve from East Africa.  In fact, the first known Jews were the Ethiopian Falasha Jews thousands of years ago.  Like all religions, Judaism has principles that believers must live up to.  If they do, the objective is for them to live higher quality lives based on good and justice.  Zionism, on the other hand, is a political movement that was born in 1897 in Balse, Switzerland, at the first zionist conference.  The founder of the zionist movement was Theodore Herzl who, according to his own autobiography, was an atheist.  For Herzl, zionism was a movement to create a powerful nation/state for all the benefits such a nation/state would provide.  Justice for Jewish people had nothing to do with this political objective.  And the alleged history the zionists claim gives them the right to Palestine had nothing to do with zionism either since the original zionists debated focusing on Uganda or Venezuela as the original site for Israel.  Of course, those countries had nothing to do with the zionist claim to historical and Biblical rights to Palestine.  Indeed, the only reasons those countries were not chosen was because they didn’t meet the logistical concerns the zionists had for their nation/state e.g. access to control major water ways, etc.

In the first part of the 20th century, Britain, the major colonial power in the world at that time, became the primary player in support of zionism when they created the Balfour Declaration with essentially affirmed their control over Palestine and their right to hand that country to the zionists.  From that point on, the zionists began advocating European settlers physically moving into Palestine, occupying it, and making it increasingly more difficult for the Palestinians to resist these people’s criminal effort to steal their country.  In this context, the holocaust, as horrific as it was, really had nothing to do with the creation of the zionist state in occupied Palestine.  In fact, the suffering of the Jewish people was used, as it always had been, to justify the creation of Israel.  Going back as early as the turn of the century, the zionists had begun using the suffering of European Jews to justify their political movement.  The leaders of the World Zionist Congress even went as far as to collaborate with European countries, including the Third Reich in Germany, to encourage mistreatment of the Jews in these countries.  Their hope was the mistreatment of the Jews would expedite their support for the zionist effort and the holocaust pretty much sealed the deal on that strategy.

Many previously anti-zionist Jews were persuaded to support the zionist effort after Hitler’s reign of terror as a desperate attempt to try and salvage some security for Jewish people.  It was this often well meaning and highly emotional approach to the zionist effort that confuses many people on this question, including Dr. Martin Luther King.

King, like many Africans, was emotionally swayed by the zionist argument of the right to “return home” to escape persecution.  It would make sense that African people, the people with the most legitimate justifiable claim in the Western world to return home (to Africa) would find sympathy with a people who’s case is being presented in a very similar vein.  So, Dr. King’s support for Israel was unconditional.  He even supported the founding of a pro-zionist African organization in the mid 60s called BASIC – Black Americans in Support of Israel.  Many of the people involved in this disgraceful organization’s development had their own unprincipled reasons for supporting it, but King?  He was as sincere, and confused, as the driven snow.  That’s why the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) bold stance against zionism in 1967, rocked King due to his close relationship with many SNCC organizers, especially the young Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture).  Ture pushed King on this question and being the principled man that he was, King, began to slowly move on his position.  Had he lived longer, he certainly would have come to see the contradiction between the just religion of Judaism and the criminal zionist political  movement.

Much of what zionism really is doesn’t appear in mainstream discourse.  The zionists have been very tactical in creating an environment where most people don’t know the difference between Judaism and zionism.  Consequently, an attack against zionism is considered by many people to be an attack against Judaism.  Going further, the zionists have confused everyone about Judaism as a spiritual way and life and Semitism which speaks to biological specifications.  So, anti-zionists like Kwame Ture have been called anti-Semitic when Semitic people are people of color.  New ways of looking at this contradiction must continue to be explored and that, fortunately, is happening.  And, one of the primary reasons it is happening is because of the tireless work of Kwame Ture, including his work to advance Dr. King’s perspective around this issue.  For those in the Pacific Northwest, Portland area.  On Wednesday, April 27th at 6pm at Portland State University, Smith Memorial 236, a lecture by Kwame Ture on zionism’s impact on Africa will be screened and a discussion will follow.  Zionism is the enemy of Africa and African people just as much as its the enemy of Palestinian and all peace loving people.

Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People’s Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.
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