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Why Israelis Backed the Civil Rights Movement but Fear Black Lives Matter

Israeli media coverage of protests in the U.S. following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was mainly focused on the initial bursts of violence and looting. Most of the expat Israelis interviewed by local media complained about damage to their businesses, expressed fear for their families and demanded a tougher response by authorities.

Once the violence subsided, the coverage decreased accordingly. The thousands of peaceful demonstrations across the U.S., unprecedented in their scope and makeup, drew scant interest. Thus, the Israeli public was not exposed to the extraordinary turnaround in U.S. public opinion or to the increasing recognition that police violence is but the tip of the iceberg of the systemic discrimination that many African Americans continue to endure in all walks of life.

Many Israelis, on the other hand, were outraged by the decision to suspend screenings of "Gone with the Wind," the resignation of a New York Times editor who published an op-ed calling on the army to disperse demonstrators by force and the removal, by mob or governor’s decree, of statues commemorating Confederate generals. Pundits and columnists denounced “censorship,” “stifling dissent” “rewriting of history” and “the tyranny of the politically correct.”

The objections were strongest on the Israeli right. Attacks on Jewish businesses in Los Angeles were cited as proof that the protests were antisemitic through and through. One leading luminary of the Israeli right tweeted that looting comes naturally to African Americans, another that they are simply incapable of catching up with others. The protests, in general, were ascribed on the right to radical, anti-Zionist left-wing groups out to topple Israel’s ally and savior, Donald Trump.

Sixty years ago, when the Civil Rights Movement was fighting for equality, the Israeli reaction was markedly different.

Read entire article at Haaretz