- Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) ideology is growing in America according to several experts that spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation, one going so far as to call it the “greatest threat to black Americans.”
- A 2019 poll sponsored by the Philos Project entitled “African American Attitudes Toward Israel” surveyed over 1,000 African American participants. Several of the questions specifically pertained to BHI ideology. Males were twice as likely to pick the response stating “I agree with most of the core ideas taught by Black Hebrew Israelites” than females.
- The DCNF spoke with Bishop Nathanyel, the head of the IUC church with locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nathaniel stated that the term ‘Black Hebrew Israelites’ was a false moniker made up by the media.
Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) ideology is growing in America, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation, as high-profile individuals echo its claims and antisemitism becomes more visible.
Celebrities such as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have brought increased media attention to antisemitism, the BHI movement and its beliefs in recent months. One expert told DCNF that the BHI ideology is the “greatest threat to black Americans” today.
BHI ideology is a form of replacement theory regarding Jewish heritage and ethnicity, according to experts, which claims that the Bible states that the real Jews are black, and cannot be white. Both the chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, Kenneth Marcus, and Israel 365 founder Rabbi Tuly Weisz told the DCNF that this “replacement theory” has become very prominent among members of BHI.
“So right now, there’s a lot of discussion in left-wing media of replacement theory. The notion there is that Jews are replacing whites,” Marcus explained. “The Black Hebrew movement also has this notion that Jews are not the Jews, but rather it’s the black Hebrews, who have replaced that. So there are various movements that have taken this notion that Jews have been replaced.”
“Unfortunately now some of the extremists in the Black Hebrew Israelite community are … manipulating the black community … to replace the Jewish people. And that’s really dangerous and that’s really offensive to Jews,” Weisz noted.
Bishop Glenn Plummer of the Church of God in Christ in Israel, the largest black church in the world, confirmed that membership with the ideology of the Black Hebrew Israelites is growing, describing it as a philosophical movement. Plummer called BHI the “greatest threat to black Americans” today and warned that the “black church leadership” is not taking the movement as seriously as they should be.
“Now, in the United States, the so-called Black Hebrews Israelite movement, and I will refer to it as a movement, is a headless, leaderless movement,” Plummer explained. “So you can’t point to one leader there or one organization there. It’s a philosophy and it’s splintered into all these little groups and all this, but it is growing.”
The BHI movement began in America in the 1960s. Churches in Chicago were divided by incoming BHI ideology and eventually split leading to the birth of a “cult,” according to Plummer.
“The Black Hebrew Israelite movement is not a new movement. It’s not new in the context of a few years. It’s been around for a number of decades,” Plummer stated.
A 2019 poll sponsored by the Philos Project entitled “African American Attitudes Toward Israel” surveyed over 1,000 African American participants. Several of the questions specifically pertained to BHI ideology.
When respondents were asked whether they were familiar with BHI teachings, 23% indicated that they considered themselves a “Black Hebrew Israelite” or “agreed with most of the core ideas taught by Black Hebrew Israelites.” According to Luke Moon, Deputy Director of the Philos Project, this number represented a concerning increase from past numbers.
Irving, a basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets, was suspended on Nov. 3 after posting a link to the antisemitic film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” Irving later apologized and condemned antisemitism, but he has not been the only one to push this antisemitic rhetoric.
West has made the rounds pushing anti-Jewish sentiment on multiple occasions. On Tim Pool’s podcast “Pool IRL,” the rapper defended Irving and talked about the importance of “bloodlines.”
“I’ve been labeled antisemite, right? So there’s different beliefs about our bloodlines, you know, like the documentary that Kyrie posted and in general, America has been left ignorant and history has been changed,” West said. “So when we start questioning things that question the indoctrination, then you immediately get, you know, demonized, demonetized, and what’s so beautiful about this time is everyone got to see what’s really been happening.”
On Sunday, Nov. 22, a group of protesters from the church Israel United in Christ (IUC), showed up outside the Barclays Center where the Nets were playing. The group, dressed in matching purple hoodies with gold fringe sewn on the hems, chanted, “We’ve got some good news, we are the Jews,” according to the New York Post.
The DCNF spoke with Bishop Nathanyel, the head of the IUC church with locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nathaniel said the term “Black Hebrew Israelites” is a false moniker made up by the media.
“No Israelite organization calls themselves Black Hebrew Israelites,” he said. “The media has concocted that [for those] opposed to the Jewish people who colonized the land in 1948.”
In regards to Irving, Nathaniel told the DCNF that the church was not protesting the suspension but rather Irving’s “right to examine his race,” and echoed a common BHI belief that white Jews must prove their origin.
“But they must prove according to the Torah, according to the Tanakh, that they are the people of the book. We can prove it,” he said. “And many of them fear sitting down with us not because of violence, because they know we are not violent but because we can prove that we’re the Israelites, according to Deuteronomy 28:15-68, 1 Kings 8:46-52, [and] Luke 21:24.”
Most vulnerable to these kinds of beliefs, according to Plummer, are young men due to their need for discipline. Plummer also said this lacking aspect in their lives leads young black men to search for purpose, leaving BHI to willingly supply it.
“That’s why the armies of the world go towards young men. Because men require discipline,” he noted.
The Philos Project poll found that 31% of African American males report seeing more antisemitism from other blacks than in the past, compared to 25% of female respondents. Males were twice as likely to express agreement with the “core ideas” of the Black Hebrew Israelites than females, the poll found.
Marcus also pointed to the growing extremism in America, noting that young people are especially vulnerable, and said black America is no exception.
“Most African Americans are not sympathetic to this sort of extremism,” he stated. “[W]e do see, especially in certain groups like college students, a greater likelihood to adopt radical views and it can include black supremacy just as it can include anti-Zionism.”
Weisz told DCNF that the solution to this growing problem is to prevent ignorance. “The more that the African Americans know their history and Jewish history, the more they will be protected.”
The church is the answer for Plummer, stating that BHI ideology is the “self-proclaimed” enemy.
“[Black Hebrew Israelites] are enemies, self-proclaimed enemies of the black church,” Plummer said. “[T]he church is the one that will talk them out of that and the church is the one that preaches the Bible. And the church is one that talks about truth, and morality and character and what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Irving and the Nets did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. West could not be reached for comment.
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