Pastors discuss pro-Israel support in the black community


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Dumisani Washington, a pastor and pro-Israel advocate, speaks out to the Northwestern community Thursday evening. Washington and Chris Harris, a pastor in Chicago, discussed the importance of building a relationship between the Jewish and black communities.

Alice Yin, Assistant Campus Editor

Two pastors gave speeches advocating for the black community to support Israel on Thursday night at Northwestern.

Dumisani Washington, director of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, and Chris Harris, a pastor at the Bright Star Church in Chicago, addressed an audience of about 30 students and local residents at the event, which was hosted by Wildcats for Israel.

Both speakers emphasized the connection Jewish and black communities have from their histories of oppression.

Washington said Israel’s existence as the only Jewish state in the Middle East is constantly threatened, adding that Israel’s war-torn roots bring the nation’s people closer to the black community.

“What the Holocaust is to you, slavery is to us,” Harris said to the audience. “Just like you lost millions, so did we.”

Washington also discussed what he said was an unfair international perception of Israel. He said Israel is “the only viable democracy in the Middle East” and is unfairly deemed the center of all problems, and played a video that questioned how 40 percent of United Nation’s special sessions have ended in a condemnation of Israel.

The pastor denounced that rate, giving examples of Israeli humanitarianism and human rights violations in Palestine and saying Hamas is to blame for the execution, torture and mass deaths of its own people, many of whom were children.

To demonstrate what he called the U.N.’s anti-Israel propaganda, he asked a woman in the audience to stand up.

“If I said something terrible about her over and over, you would leave here believing that even though she is a beautiful person,” Washington said.

Washington concluded with a defense of Zionism, and said it is a legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s self-determination.

“Saying Zionism is a form of racism when it is a movement to protect Jews from racism is saying the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. is racist,” Washington said.

After the two speeches concluded, the floor was open to a question-and-answer session. Mort Doblin, a retired pediatrician from Winnetka, Illinois, who identifies as a conservative Jew, criticized the presentation for focusing only on the United States. He said it lacked focus on societal issues in Israel.

“I don’t find it totally honest,” Doblin said. “In Israel, Palestinians don’t get their garbage picked up. Palestinians don’t have a house to live in.”

Harris told The Daily that NU was a responsive audience.

“Whenever you find young people that are interested in having conversations that are not necessarily always welcomed or not always comfortable, it’s good to find folks that are intrigued … especially between the Jewish and African-American community,” Harris told The Daily. “Folks were not scared to ask questions.”

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