Black Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter, Truth Matters: a blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

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A Midrash tells that when the Almighty was about to create Adam, a debate broke out among the angels. Some advised Him not to create human beings, others urged Him to create humanity. Hesed (compassion) said: let human beings be created because they will do acts of kindness. Emet (truth) said: let them not be created because they will be filled with lies. Tsedek (righteousness) said: create them because they will do acts of justice. Shalom (peace) said: don't create them because they will be filled with strife.

God then cast Emet down to earth. The angels objected: why did you treat Emet disrespectfully, since Truth is Your hallmark? God replied: The truth will blossom forth from the earth.

And then Adam was created.

At the very point of the creation of humanity, this Midrash teaches, it was clear that human beings would be a mixed blessing. They would form a society filled with lies and strife--but also filled with compassion and peace. In weighing the pluses and minuses, God opted for creating humanity. He planted Truth into the soil of the earth, with the confidence that one day Truth will blossom, and humanity will be redeemed.

When we look around our world, it is not always easy to share God’s optimism about the future of humanity. Our world is very far from being a peaceful place, and very far from adhering to truth and compassion. But we take a deep breath, think carefully, and deeply understand that each of us has a role to play in creating peace. We strive for peace among nations, tolerance and mutual respect among religions, justice in our society, peace within ourselves and between ourselves and the Almighty.

One of the difficult issues confronting American society is the racial tensions that have erupted when police have been accused of using excessive force against black men perceived to be engaged in criminal activity. Video images of some of these confrontations show police using force—and murdering—victims who had already surrendered, who were unarmed, who posed no obvious threat to the police. This wave of incidents led to the establishment of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, protesting police brutality against blacks. The tense situation has worsened as police officers have been wantonly murdered in various cities, as a means of general revenge against “the system.”

While these racial tensions clearly need to be addressed in a serious and productive way—avoiding violence and hatred—the “Black Lives Matter” movement has veered from its primary focus in order to attack and malign the State of Israel! It has issued a platform that includes a malicious condemnation of the State of Israel as being guilty of apartheid and genocide.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, writing for the Algemeiner, expressed his outrage at this vicious, mendacious manifestation of anti-Semitism:

“Until and unless Black Lives Matter removes this blood libel from its platform and renounces it, no decent person — black, white or of any other racial or ethnic background — should have anything to do with it. We should continue to fight against police abuses by supporting other organizations or forming new ones. But we must not become complicit in the promotion of antisemitism just because we agree with the rest of the Black Lives Matter program…

To support an organization or movement that promotes antisemitism because it also supports good causes is the beginning of the road to accepting racism…
There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism, regardless of the race, religion, gender or sexual orientation of the bigots who promote, practice or are complicit with it. Being on the right side of one racial issue does not give one a license to be on the wrong side of the oldest bigotry.
Black Lives Matter should rescind the portions of the platform that falsely accuse Israel of genocide and apartheid....It would be sad if the good work done by Black Lives Matter were now to be sidetracked by the mendacious and irrelevant accusation of “genocide” and “apartheid” against one foreign democracy — Israel.”

Certainly, black lives matter…but so do Jewish lives matter…so do all human lives matter. Injecting hatred and malicious slanders against Israel does not advance peace among human beings. On the contrary, anti-Semitism is a malignant virus that infects not only the haters, but endangers the wellbeing of society as a whole.

The Midrash teaches that God had optimism that Truth will ultimately “blossom from the earth,” and that humanity’s existence will be characterized by morality, truthfulness and intergroup harmony. As long as racism and anti-Semitism are allowed to fester, we know that humanity has not justified God’s hopes for us.

All of our lives matter. Those who foster malice, hatred and lies…are those who really don’t believe that all of our lives matter. They are not only undermining society; they are negating God’s fondest hopes for humanity.

We look forward to the day, may it come speedily, when humanity will rise above its propensity for violence, hatred and malicious slanders. Good people everywhere need to stand up for peace, mutual respect, and truth. None of us--of any religion or race--can be justified in our humanity until the truth will blossom forth from the earth.