AS Australian Jews express their sorrow and outrage over the senseless police killing of George Floyd in the United States, efforts by anti-Zionist activists to link the tragedy to alleged Israeli brutality have been labelled “cynical” and “insulting”.
The 46-year-old unarmed African American man died last week after an officer knelt on his neck and refused to get off, despite protests that he could not breathe.
The incident has triggered a wave of protests and rioting across America.
Addressing the incident and its fallout, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jillian Segal said on Wednesday, “We are all horrified by the killing of George Floyd and its aftermath and hope that for the sake of all Americans, law and order is swiftly restored, justice to the family of George Floyd is delivered and concerted efforts are made to tackle systemic racism and end instances of police brutality.”
As America reels, not for the first time the incident is also being used by some in an attempt to smear Israel.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights tweeted, “The Israeli military trains US police in racist and repressive policing tactics, which systematically targets black and brown bodies.”
The Democratic Socialists of America’s BDS national working group said, “The police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook.”
Activists have drawn comparisons with the tragic killing of Iyad Halak, an autistic Palestinian who was shot in Jerusalem on Saturday when police mistakenly thought he was carrying a gun.
The Palestinian Authority has also propagated the comparison, with Fatah’s Facebook page showing photos of Israeli soldiers pinning down Palestinians and a PLO newspaper publishing a cartoon of an Israeli soldier and American cop kneeling on the necks of a Palestinian and a black man, respectively.
“Promoting the claim that Israel is somehow responsible – even in a philosophical sense – for what’s going on in America is both cynical and almost sickening,” Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of international affairs Jeremy Jones told The AJN.
“It is insulting to the people who have legitimate grievances. It is a complete denial of any agency of any of the players in the American political scene.”
He continued, “It’s what you see from people who really cannot win the intellectual argument. It relies very heavily on the conspiratorial mindset which is polluting so many of our public debates at the moment.
“These are people who are malevolent, they are spreading misinformation and they are misdirecting people who really want to understand what is going on in the world.”
The Black Lives Matter movement’s policy document released in 2016 accuses Israel of genocide and being an apartheid state.
Meanwhile, a number of Jewish organisations have addressed the Floyd killing on social media.
The rights of others are everyone's concern. In light of the death of #GeorgeFloyd and similar injustices in our own country, Australia, we are reminded not to stay neutral, to keep questioning and working for equality and humanity, and to stand up for the oppressed.
— Sydney Jewish Museum (@SydJewishMuseum) June 2, 2020
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) said on Facebook, “We are a community that knows oppression, knows fear, knows loss. We cannot turn away from it – and we must stand with those fighting for justice in a crowd or alone.”
Stand Up said it was horrified by the “senseless and tragic death”.
The Sydney Jewish Museum tweeted, “In light of the death of #GeorgeFloyd and similar injustices in our own country, Australia, we are reminded not to stay neutral, to keep questioning and working for equality and humanity, and to stand up for the oppressed.”
WITH TIMES OF ISRAEL & JTA