During the Ferguson protests, it was Palestinians who reached out to African-Americans with tips on protecting themselves against tear gas and state sponsored violence. Still, Israel is making inroads with African-American evangelicals, and has been quietly recruiting at HBCUs.
A Jewish charity organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has been a key player in the outreach to African-American Christians.
Eckstein’s organization raises more than $100 million a year. He built the charity over years of reaching out for financial contributions from mostly white American evangelical Christians.
Last year, the fellowship began approaching African-American congregations specifically. Like white evangelicals who have become ardent backers of Israel, members of the Church of God in Christ adhere to a theology that supports the country as the manifestation of a promise from God.
And from a Colorlines 2012 article:
When Vincent Evans arrived as a bright-eyed first-year at Florida A&M, the country’s largest historically black university, he knew he wanted to get involved in politics. So when an older student leader approached him one afternoon after a student government meeting to ask if he wanted an all expenses paid trip to D.C., Evans jumped at the opportunity. The trip, it turned out, was sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the country’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying outfit. Israel is under growing attack from Palestinian and international activists who call the country a racist apartheid state. In response, its staunchest U.S. lobby is recruiting black students as moral shields to make the case for Israeli impunity. At historically black colleges and universities (known as HBCU’s) around the country, AIPAC is finding and developing a cadre of black allies to declare there’s no way Israel can be racist.
All this recruitment of African-Americans is happening at the same time that Israel is purging the country of African migrants. As BreakingBrown previously reported:
According to a recent report, Israelis took to the streets to protest a High Court ruling to close the country’s Holot detention center. African immigrants were rounded up and taken to the desert cage as part of the move to purge the country of African immigrants, described as “cancer” on Israeli society by Likud MK Miri Regev.
As BreakingBrown reported, in a 7-2 decision, the High Court of Justice ordered authorities to stop detaining African migrants at the Holot detention center in the Negev.
According to The Times of Israel, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said he could “not accept the verdict of the High Court,” since it would mean Israel “won’t have a Jewish democratic state because our borders will be overrun… with illegal infiltrators.”
Eckstein, the fellowship’s founder, attempted to neutralize any criticism of Israel’s treatment of African migrants by welcoming visitors “to a center in Tel Aviv that assists migrants seeking asylum in Israel, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea.” Still, he says, “The land is the Jewish people’s, we have a covenant.”
The NYPD, known for racially harassing black and brown men, also has a branch in Israel now. So what, exactly, are these African-American evangelicals thinking?