Contributed by CAMERA fellow Elana Zelden

The black civil rights movement has a very similar origin to that of the Zionist movement. They both stem from discrimination that began due to race or ethnicity. These movements were responses to oppression in what should have been a free society, in the place that each called home, without discrimination just because of their heritage of beliefs.

The Jews have endured this kind of discrimination for thousands of years. This can be seen from the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, or even in the recent past by the German Nazi Regime. Current anti-Semitic acts around the world, such as those in Paris and Denmark, are another sign that hate and oppression are still alive today. Millions upon millions of Jews have suffered at the hands of these different uprisings, wars, pogroms, and the Holocaust.

Nobody deserves such treatment. They deserve to live safely and freely in their own homes. History cannot be ignored, and if past history is any indication, the Jewish people can only survive with the kind of independence they enjoy in the place that they call home. Zionism aims to realize the dream of the Jewish people, as promised in the Bible, of having a Jewish homeland of their own, where they can live in peace and worship freely.

African Americans have gone through very similar experiences. This can be traced back to kidnappings of slaves from Africa and bringing them here to be slaves to affluent Americans. American slavery led to the Civil War in the United States during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Following freedom from slavery, African Americans endured discrimination even in recent history. They were not given the right to vote in the United States until 1870. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for attempting to sit in the front of the bus as a black woman. This kind of discrimination had to do with nothing more than her skin color.

After looking at history, it is hard to not see the similarities between Zionism and the Civil Rights Movement. The chalutzim and founders of the State of Israel, such as David Ben-Gurion, can be compared to Martin Luther King and his followers in the 1960’s in that they all understood exactly what it took to gain true freedom and independence. The world should never let race or ethnicity get in the way of how we treat people or of what freedoms are available to them. African Americans have the right to live safely and freely, just as Jewish people do in their own state. We cannot be blinded by these inherent rights, like so many have been in the past.

With the help of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the privilege of welcoming Dumisani Washington to campus on April 14th. Dumisani is a pastor from Califronia who gave an excellent lecture about the inherent connection between the Black Civil Rights movement and the Zionist movement, as well as the importance of Christianity supporting Zionism. He talked about how supportive Martin Luther King Jr. was of the Zionist movement, and how the Bible clearly identifies the Jewish people and their connection to the State of Israel.

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