I think the first time I really wrote about the Black Hebrew Israelites was in 2019 when the Covington Catholic fiasco turned out to have been largely instigated by a group of BHI preachers who were originally there to start a fight with a group of Native Americans but wound up starting one with the Catholic high school kids because they were there.
It was heating up to be an intersectional showdown for the ages, with the Black Hebrew Israelites going head to head with the Native Americans. But when the Native woman talks about the importance of peace, the preacher finally locates a unifying theme, one more powerful than anything to be found in Proverbs, Isaiah, or Ecclesiastes.
He tells her there won’t be any food stamps coming to reservations or the projects because of the shutdown, and then gesturing to his left, he says, “It’s because of these … bastards over there, wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.”…
“Why you not angry at them?” the Black Hebrew Israelite asks the Native American woman angrily.
“That’s right,” says one of his coreligionists, “little corny-ass Billy Bob.”…
“You little dirty-ass crackers. Your day coming. Your day coming … ’cause your little dusty asses wouldn’t walk down a street in a black neighborhood, and go walk up on nobody playing no games like that,” he calls after them, but they take no notice. “Yeah, ’cause I will stick my foot in your little ass.”
Nearly a year later, in December of 2019, there had been a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in New York and New Jersey. Mayor de Blasio’s claim that these incidents were connected to “an atmosphere of hate” emanating from Washington, a not-so-veiled reference to Trump. Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted about an attack in Jersey City that killed six, “White supremacy kills.” Only it turned out one of the shooters had ties to the Black Hebrew Israelites.
An assailant involved in the prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, was linked on Wednesday to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and had published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official said.
The violent rampage on Tuesday took place largely at a kosher supermarket where three bystanders were killed. The authorities now believe that the store was specifically targeted by the assailants, whom they identified as David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.
Mr. Anderson appeared to have a connection to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, though the extent of his involvement in that group remains unclear, the law enforcement official said.
Today, Professor Michael Eric Dyson tries a similar rhetorical trick, proclaiming the anti-Semitic statements by Kanye West and the video promoted by Kyrie Irving part of a “toxic species of the white supremacy.”
Until we see antisemitism as a toxic species of the white supremacy that threatens Black security and democracy’s future, none of us are truly safe…
Although Irving didn’t directly utter antisemitic sentiments, he endorsed a film that did. The player shared without comment a link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a film rife with antisemitic conspiracy theories, among them that many famous Jews were Satan worshipers and that the Holocaust was a hoax…
The film Irving posted about referred in part to a Black religious body called the Black Hebrew Israelites, a movement that traces back to the late 1800s and preaches that Black folk are descended from the ancient Israelites. When Irving in a news conference declared, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” suggesting that he agrees with Black people who view themselves as authentic Jews, he ignored how, just as Black people can be anti-Black, Jews can be antisemitic…
The relation of African Americans to Jews cannot be divorced from the pervasive glow and allure and privilege of whiteness. The fact that most Jews are white-eligible and African Americans are white-excluded creates tensions between African Americans and many Jews that have less to do with the cultural conflicts between the groups than with the meaning of Blackness and whiteness in America.
He wraps up his argument by claiming that both Jews and Blacks should keep in mind that white supremacists hate them both. No doubt that’s true but it’s also irrelevant to the comments made by Kanye or Kyrie or the Black Hebrew Israelites. Those individuals and groups have their own racial bigotry problems which, as noted above, often seem to lead to lashing out at other groups including Jews, white people and Native Americans. Brushing that aside as some kind of second hand racism caused by white supremacy doesn’t really grapple with the problem as it exists. It’s just a fancy (and not very convincing) way of passing the buck.
And I think it’s fair to say there is a real problem if you look at some of these videos of the BHI marching yesterday in New York City in support of Kyrie Irving.
Massive gathering of Black Hebrew Israelites by Grand Army Plaza.
“Hey Jacob, it’s time to wake up. I’ve got good news for you, we are the Real Jews” pic.twitter.com/OE7K54FV3R
— Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone (@Mottel) November 20, 2022
As you can see in this clip, there are a lot of these guys (I counted at least 150) chanting that they are the “real Jews.”
A large group of Black Hebrew Israelites was out in force yesterday, marching toward Barclays Center in New York City in support of Kyrie Irving’s return.
The swift growth of the BHI movement in recent years has been an underreported story until now.pic.twitter.com/YOPnHJZCsE
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) November 21, 2022
Black Hebrew Israelites are outside Barclays Center singing ahead of Kyrie Irving’s return from suspension tonight pic.twitter.com/Gay3YkcRnN
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) November 20, 2022
The point is, if you had a right wing group chanting this kind of anti-Semitic ideology about the Jews in Brooklyn, it would be on the front page of the NY Times tomorrow. Instead, all we got from the Times was this lame piece from Professor Dyson claiming white supremacy is the real problem.
Here’s a simpler explanation. Any group can be obnoxious and racist toward any other. The Black Hebrew Israelites shouldn’t get a pass on their anti-Semitism because they are black.