In a Letter to the Editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, President of the Ecumenical Leadership Council of St. Louis, wrote,
We sincerely recognize the value of law enforcement officers and realize that the majority are devoted public servants. However, we also believe that Black Lives Matter plays a vital role in addressing racially driven police abuse in America.
Recently, Black Lives Matter issued a platform of demands. One of the demands called for the elimination of U.S. aid to Israel. Their argument is that Israel is an apartheid state perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians. Most of the platform’s readers are likely unaware that its Israel/Palestine section was written by an activist who was born and raised as a Jew, although Rachel Gilmer says she no longer identifies as Jewish.
The Ecumenical Leadership Council of Missouri, representing hundreds of predominantly African-American churches throughout the state, rejects without hesitation any notion or assertion that Israel operates as an apartheid country. We embrace our Jewish brethren in America and respect Israel as a Jewish state.
Thank you to Bishop Wooten and to those with whom he consulted to prepare this statement.
This is especially significant because it was in Ferguson, Missouri that Black Lives Matter gained national attention, and it was during the protests in that city that anti-Israel activists began their mission to coopt the BLM movement. Bishop Wooten has also been involved in community empowerment efforts in the aftermath of the Ferguson protests and he has a street named after him.
It remains to be seen whether others will follow.