While authorities were still sorting out all of the details surrounding the deadly anti-Semitic shooting that broke out earlier this week in Jersey City, a related conversation broke out on social media concerning the suspects and the nature of what has been called a “targeted” attack. In particular, the online chatter has centered on the fact that the suspects were identified as having been linked to the Black Hebrew Israelites, a religious group of African Americans whose members believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites and may adhere to both Christian and Judaic beliefs.
Among those voices rising above the social media fray were those purportedly of Black Jews, which seemed to mount an online campaign to distance themselves from the Black Hebrew Israelites, who The Southern Poverty Law Center said has a militant wing that it calls “black supremacists.”
A growing number of tweets from people who identify as Black Jews claimed they have been the target of hate since David Anderson and Francine Graham allegedly launched shot up a Jewish market and left at least six people dead, including themselves.
“Literally getting harassed by racists for tweeting in memory of the victims of the Jersey City attack while Black (and Jewish),” one tweet from filmmaker and writer Rebecca Pierce tweeted about the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI). “Black Jews are not responsible for the actions of BHI and it is 100% racist to act like we are. So very tired and sad right now.”
A tweet from an account that identifies itself as belonging to an orthodox Jewish woman who is Black said she was “attacked” by a Jewish woman who doubted her religion. “We need the Jewish community 2 defend it’s black Jews against this hate,” the tweet said in part.
Another tweet made clear the delineation between the two groups.
The news of the shooting challenged the widely held notion that all Jewish people are white while also bringing attention to what writer Nylah Burton — a Black Jew — called “anti-black racism in the Jewish community.”
According to the Jewish Chronicle, “in Israel, the most Jewish place on earth, one in two Israeli Jews are people of colour from Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Ethiopia, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, and India, among other places. In fact, a number of well known Black also identify as Jews, including but not limited to Drake, Craig David, Maya Rudolf, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Bonet, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lauren London, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rashida Jones and Shyne.