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Monday, January 16, 2017

Ten days before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King answered questions at the Rabbinical Assembly.

One set of questions included:
“What steps have been undertaken and what success has been noted in convincing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Negroes, such as Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, and McKissick, to desist from their anti-Israel activity?... What would you say if you were talking to a Negro intellectual, an editor of a national magazine, and were told, as I have been, that he supported the Arabs against Israel because color is all important in this world? In the editor’s opinion, the Arabs are colored Asians and the Israelis are white Europeans. Would you point out that more than half of the Israelis are Asian Jews with the same pigmentation as Arabs, or would you suggest that an American Negro should not form judgments on the basis of color? What seems to you an appropriate or an effective response?”
Here is the relevant parts about how King viewed the Middle East conflict in 1968:
On the Middle East crisis, we have had various responses. The response of some of the so-called young militants again does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed and they see a kind of mystique in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. W e do not follow that course in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and certainly most of the organizations in the civil rights movement do not follow that course.

I think it is necessary to say that what is basic and what is needed in the Middle East is peace. Peace for Israel is one thing. Peace for the Arab side of that world is another thing. Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.

On the other hand, we must see what peace for the Arabs means in a real sense of security on another level. Peace for the Arabs means the kind of economic security that they so desperately need. These nations, as you know, are part of that third world of hunger, of disease, of illiteracy. I think that as long as these conditions exist there will be tensions, there will be the endless quest to find scapegoats. So there is a need for a Marshall Plan for the Middle East, where we lift those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder and bring them into the mainstream of economic security.
King may have gotten Israel right, but he did not understand the Arab world nor antisemitism.

The idea that Arab hatred of Israel is based on economics is pure wishful thinking. Palestinian Arabs are better off economically than their neighbors in Egypt and Jordan. Several years ago Egypt opened the border with Gaza and residents of the Sinai had the opportunity to visit. they discovered that Gaza was a nicer place to live than Egypt, and not at all how the media portray it.

In another section King placed all antisemitism into two buckets:

Anti-Semitism historically has been based on two false, sick, evil assumptions. One was unfortunately perpetuated even by many Christians, all too many as a matter of fact, and that is the notion that the religion of Judaism is anathema. That was the first basis for anti-Semitism in the historic sense. Second, a notion was perpetuated by a sick man like Hitler and others that the Jew is innately inferior. 
King ignores the antisemitism of the Jew as the controller of the world, the Protocols version of antisemitism.

Beyond that, there is the antisemitism inherent in Islam and Islamic supremacism, which combined with the virulent antisemitism of Middle East Christians has informed how the Arab world looks at Jews.

Most importantly, King fell into the trap of most Westerners in believing that people are generally the same and have the same way of thinking. It isn't true. The reason why the Arab world will never, ever truly accept Israel is because Israel's very existence is an affront to Arab and Muslim honor. The poor, weak, pitiful Jew convincingly beat the strong, sword-wielding Arab. That shame cannot be erased no matter how many concessions Israel makes or how rich the Arab nations become.

Arab antisemitism and anti-Zionism is not based on economic disadvantages. The hate comes first, the justifications come after. It is a shame that King, who was very pro-Israel, didn't delve into the existence of this kind of hate.

(You can read a lot more about MLK's attitudes towards Israel here.)

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