Anti-Zionism or Anti-Jewish Conspiracism?

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Some members of Black nationalist groups in the U.S. circulate conspiracist theories about Black oppression where discredited ultra-right theories of exaggerated Jewish power and manipulation have found new life and a new audience. While in the past some pro-Palestinian and even anti-Israel sentiments made by African-Americans have been mislabeled as anti-Semitism by groups promoting pro-Israel policies, there is still plenty of evidence that anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are discussed openly in some segments of the Black community

For example, in Chicago, during the late 1980's, Black activist Steve Cokely taught classes at a Nation of Islam (NOI) center where he alleged that Jewish doctors were injecting Black children with the AIDS virus. When Cokely was exposed, NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, rather than rejecting Cokely's assertions as bigoted lunacy, issued a statement saying that if Cokely could document his charges, the Nation of Islam would provide a public forum for the discussion.

At a February 28, 1991 anti-abortion lecture by Barbara Bell, founder of Massachusetts Blacks for Life, Bell asserted that "it is the Jewish doctors that are the ones that are the ones trying to wipe out the black society." The statement came in the context of an assertion that Planned Parenthood wanted to wipe out all minority populations.

The Detroit magazine Alkebulanian says it is dedicated to providing the reader with "the power of African pride and dignity" and seeks to "speak the truth and expose the falsehoods that have weakened a precious people through the course of history." But according to anti-eugenics scholar Barry Mehler, the magazine carries articles that assert "the Jewish Talmud was written by `racist dogs,' that Jews have manipulated the world into grieving over the Holocaust as a way to make `black people forget that it was the same handful who participated in the African Holocaust.'"

At a July 7, 1990 meeting in Cairo, Illinois, several Black nationalist groups under the leadership of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) confirmed the formation of an "Afrikan Anti-Zionist Front," first announced on June 11, 1990 at an initial meeting held in Tripoli, Libya. Other groups listed as founders included the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, the New Afrikan People's Organization, the United Front (based in Cairo, Illinois), The Black Panther Party (reconstituted), The December 12th Coalition, the Black Men's Movement Against Crack, and the Harriet Tubman-Fannie Lou Hamer Collective.

Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) of AAPRP was elected chairperson of the front, and Ture cosigned the initial statement along with Imari Abubakari Obadele. PhD., acting chairperson, Nationalist Front of Afrikans in America, and president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika. The statement issued by the Front at the planning meeting held in Tripoli, Libya included the disclaimer that, "The founders of the Front state that the struggle against Zionism is not a struggle against Jews or Judaism but rather a struggle against Zionism as a racist and imperialist ideology and movement."

Although extreme, and implying objection to the state of Israel itself, this statement is not fairly characterized as necessarily anti-Jewish. However, the careful distinctions in this statement are contradicted by several other clauses, including one that asserts:

Zionism uses its influence and money to control and subvert many of the so-called Afrikan mayors, Congresspersons and other politicians in the United States and uses its influence and power to subvert Black organizations and the agendas of the African nation in the United States.

An educational brochure circulated by the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party goes even further into conspiratorial bigotry. The brochure starts out criticizing Zionism and Israeli politics but soon descends into rampant anti-Jewish conspiracism. "ZIONISM is a well organized and financed, international conspiracy which controls the economic and political life of the United States and Europe," says the brochure. Although accurately noting, "All Jews are not Zionists," the brochure goes on to claim, "The international Zionist movement exerts an almost total strangle-hold over the economic, political, social and cultural life of the African community." It also claims that Zionism, "controls...all of the banks, businesses and financial institutions in our community," as well as the mass media and the entertainment industry. According to the brochure, the international Zionist movement controls:

The political, social, cultural, educational and legal institutions, agencies and organizations in the African community. Almost all of the civil rights and political groups in our community are controlled by zionists and Jews. They use their money, their power, the FBI, CIA, IRS, the courts and prisons; and many other ways to control and destroy our movements, leaders and people.

Many of these sentiments regarding Jews are virtually identical to charges in white supremacist publications which claim that Jews play a similar role in oppressing white Christians. One mail order videotape lecture by a leading Christian Identity pastor is a lengthy exposition of his bigoted theory that slavery was the result of the usury employed by Jewish bankers in Britain when financing colonial enterprises.

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