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African American–Jewish relations

African Americans and American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of the United States. This relationship has included widely publicized cooperation and conflict, and—since the 1970s—has been an area of significant academic research.[1][2][3] The most significant aspect of the relationship was the cooperation during the civil rights movement, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the relationship has also been marred by conflict and controversy involving subjects such as the Black Power movement, Zionism, affirmative action, and alleged dominance of Jews in the slave trade.


  • Early 20th century 1
  • Shopkeeper and landlord relationships 2
  • Entertainment 3
  • Civil rights movement 4
    • Murder of Jewish civil rights activists 4.1
    • Questioning the "golden age" 4.2
    • Southern Jews in the civil rights movement 4.3
  • Black power movement 5
  • Blacks as the chosen people 6
  • Labor movement 7
  • Criticism of Zionism 8
  • Affirmative action 9
  • Black anti-semitism 10
    • Nation of Islam 10.1
    • Jews and the slave trade 10.2
  • Jewish racism 11
  • See also 12
  • Notes 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15

Early 20th century

Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) was an early promoter of pan-Africanism and African redemption, and led the Universal Negro Improvement Association. His push to celebrate Africa, the original homeland of African-Americans, led many Jews to compare Garvey to leaders of Zionism.[4] One example of the parallels between pan-Africanism and Zionism was that Garvey wanted WW I peace negotiators to turn over former German colonies in southwest Africa to blacks.[4] But Garvey also regularly wrote columns in his newspaper Negro World that criticized Jews for trying to destroy the black population of America.[5]

The widely publicized [6] but the trial also pitted Jews against blacks because Frank's defense attorneys tried to ascribe guilt to a black janitor, Jim Conley, and called Conley a "dirty, filthy, black, drunken, lying, nigger."[7] Jim Conley is now believed by many historians to be the real murderer.[8]

In the early 20th century, Jewish daily and weekly publications were preoccupied with violence against blacks, and often compared the anti-black violence in the South to Hasia Diner notes that "they made sure that their actions were well publicized" as part of an effort to demonstrate increasing Jewish political clout.[10] Julius Rosenwald was a Jewish philanthropist who donated a large part of his fortune to supporting education of blacks in the south.[11] Jews played a major role in the founding of the NAACP, which was founded in 1909. Jews involved in the NAACP included Joel Elias Spingarn (the first chairman), Arthur B. Spingarn, Henry Moskowitz, and—more recently—Jack Greenberg.[12]

Shopkeeper and landlord relationships

Following the Civil War, Jewish shop-owners and landlords engaged in business with black customers and tenants, often filling a need where white business owners would not venture. This was true both in northern urban cities such as New York, as well as most regions of the South. Jewish shop-owners tended to be more civil to black customers, treating them with more dignity than non-Jewish merchants.[13] Thus, blacks often had more immediate contact with Jews than other whites.[14]

In 1903, black historian [15]

Black novelist James Baldwin (1924–1987) grew up in Harlem, and expressed a view of Jews that was representative of many Harlem blacks of that era: "... in Harlem.... our ... landlords were Jews, and we hated them. We hated them because they were terrible landlords and did not take care of the buildings. The grocery store owner was a Jew... The butcher was a Jew and, yes, we certainly paid more for bad cuts of meat than other New York citizens, and we very often carried insults home along with our meats... and the pawnbroker was a Jew—perhaps we hated him most of all."[14][16]

Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that some black anti-semitism arises from landlord-tenant relations: "When we were working in Chicago, we had numerous rent strikes on the West Side, and it was unfortunately true that, in most instances, the persons we had to conduct these strikes against were Jewish landlords... We were living in a slum apartment owned by a Jew and a number of others, and we had to have a rent strike. We were paying $94 for four run-down, shabby rooms, and .... we discovered that whites ... were paying only $78 a month. We were paying 20 percent tax. The Negro ends up paying a color tax, and this has happened in instances where Negroes actually confronted Jews as the landlord or the storekeeper. The irrational statements that have been made are the result of these confrontations."[17]


Jewish producers in the United States entertainment industry produced many works on black subjects in the film industry, Broadway, and the music industry. Many portrayals of blacks were sympathetic, but historian Michael Rogin discusses how some of the treatments could be considered exploitative.[18]

Rogin also analyzes the instances when Jewish actors, such as Al Jolson, portrayed blacks in blackface—Rogin asserts that these portrayals were not overt racism, but simply a reflection of the times, since Blacks could not appear in leading roles at the time: "Jewish blackface neither signified a distinctive Jewish racism nor produced a distinctive black anti-Semitism".[19]

Jews often interpreted black culture in film, music, and stageplays, and historian Jeffrey Melnick argues that Jewish artists such as [20][21]

Black academic

  • Webb, Clive. "Counterblast: How the Atlanta Temple Bombing Strengthened the Civil Rights Cause." Southern Spaces 22 June 2009.

External links

  • Adams, Maurianne, Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States, 2000.
  • Bauman, Mark K. The quiet voices: southern rabbis and Black civil rights, 1880s to 1990s, 1997.
  • Berman, Paul, Blacks and Jews: Alliances and Arguments', 1995.
  • Cannato, Vincent The ungovernable City, 2002.
  • Diner, Hasia R. In the almost promised land: American Jews and Blacks, 1915–1935
  • Dollinger, Mark, "African American-Jewish Relations" in Antisemitism: a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution, Vol 1, 2005.
  • Forman, Seth, Blacks in the Jewish Mind: A Crisis of Liberalism, 2000.
  • Franklin, Vincent P., African Americans and Jews in the twentieth century: studies in convergence and conflict, 1998.
  • Friedman, Murray, What Went Wrong?: The Creation & Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance, 1995.
  • Friedman, Saul, Jews and the American Slave Trade, 1999.
  • Greenberg, Cheryl, Troubling the waters: Black-Jewish relations in the American century, 2006.
  • Hacker, Andrew (1999) "Jewish Racism, Black anti-Semitism", in Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States, Maurianne Adams (Ed.). Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1999.
  • Kaufman, Jonathon, Broken alliance: the turbulent times between Blacks and Jews in America, 1995
  • Martin, Tony The Jewish Onslaught: Despatches from the Wellesley Battlefront, 1993
  • Melnick, Jeffrey Paul, A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song, 2001.
  • Melnick, Jeffrey, Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South, 2000.
  • Nation of Islam, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, 1991.
  • Pollack, Eunice G, "African American Antisemitism", in Encyclopedia of American Jewish history, Volume 1 By Stephen Harlan Norwood.
  • Salzman, Jack and West, Cornel, Struggles in the promised land: toward a history of Black-Jewish relations, 1997
  • Salzman, Jack (Ed.) Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews, 1992
  • Shapiro, Edward, Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brooklyn Riot, 2006.
  • Webb, Clive, Fight Against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights, 2003.
  • Weisbord, Robert G., and Stein, Arthur Benjamin, Bittersweet encounter: the Afro-American and the American Jew, Negro Universities Press, 1970
  • West, Cornel, Race Matters, 1993.


  1. ^ Greenberg, pp. 1–3
  2. ^ Webb, p. xii
  3. ^ Forman, pp. 1–2
  4. ^ a b Hill, Robert A., "Black Zionism: Marcus Garvey and the Jewish Question", in Franklin, pp. 40–53
  5. ^ Friedman, Saul S., 1999, Jews and the American Slave Trade, pp. 1–2
  6. ^ Diner, p. 3.
  7. ^ Melnick, Jeffrey (2000). Black–Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2000, p. 61.
  8. ^ For example:
    • Lindemann 1992, p. 254: "The best evidence now available indicates that the real murderer of Mary Phagan was Jim Conley, perhaps because she, encountering him after she left Frank's office, refused to give him her pay envelope, and he, in a drunken stupor, killed her to get it.
    • Woodward 1963, p. 435: "The city police, publicly committed to the theory of Frank's guilt, and hounded by the demand for a conviction, resorted to the basest methods in collecting evidence. A Negro suspect [Conley], later implicated by evidence overwhelmingly more incriminating than any produced against Frank, was thrust aside by the cry for the blood of the 'Jew Pervert.'"
  9. ^ Diner, Hasia R. "Drawn Together by Self-Interest", in Franklin, pp. 27–39.
  10. ^ Diner, p. 237
  11. ^ Friedman, Saul, Jews and the American Slave Trade, p. 14
  12. ^ Kaufman, p. 2
  13. ^ Golden, Harry, "Negro and Jew: an Encounter in America", in Adams, p. 571
  14. ^ a b Cannato, p. 355
  15. ^ DuBois, W.E.B. (1903) The Souls of Black Folk quoted by Andrew Hacker in Adams, p. 18
  16. ^ James Baldwin, quoted by Andrew Hacker, in Adams, p. 19
  17. ^ King, Martin Luther, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., James Washington (Ed.), HarperCollins, 1990, p. 669
  18. ^ Michael Rogin, "Black sacrifice, Jewish redemption", in Franklin, pp. 87–101.
  19. ^ Rogin, Michael. Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot. p. 68
  20. ^ Melnick discussed in Forman, p. 14
  21. ^ A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song by Jeffrey Paul Melnick (2001), p. 196.
  22. ^ Cruse, Harold, (2002). The essential Harold Cruse: a reader, Palgreve Macmillan, pp. 61–63, 197–198.
  23. ^ Melnick, Jeffrey (2004) "Harold Cruse's Worst Nightmare: Rethinking Porgy and Bess", in Harold Cruse's The crisis of the Negro intellectual reconsidered, Routledge, pp. 95–108
  24. ^ In a related analysis, biographer Joan Peyser quotes British critic Constant Lambert who wrote "[t]he importance of the Jewish element in jazz cannot be too strongly emphasized, and the fact that at least ninety percent of jazz tunes are written by Jews undoubtedly goes far to account for the curiously sagging quality … of the average foxtrot…. There is an obvious link between the exiled and persecuted Jews and the exiled and persecuted Negros, which the Jews, with their admirable capacity for drinking the beer of those who have knocked down the skittles, have not been slow to turn to their advantage. But although the Jews have stolen the Negroes' thunder, although Al Jolson's nauseating blubbering masquerades as savage lamenting, although Tin Pan Alley has become a commercialized Wailing Wall, the only jazz music of technical importance is that small section of it that is genuinely negroid." – Peyser, Joan, The Memory of All That: The Life of George Gershwin, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2007, p. 237.
    • Peyser is quoting Lambert, Constance, Music ho!: a study of music in decline, Penguin Books, 1948
    • See also: Funny, it doesn't sound Jewish: how Yiddish songs and synagogue melodies influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood, Volume 1, by Jack Gottlieb, SUNY Press, 2004, p. 193.
  25. ^ Goldberg, J. J. (1997). Jewish power: inside the American Jewish establishment. Basic Books. pp. 288–289.  
  26. ^ Quart, Leonard, "Jews and Blacks in Hollywood", Dissent, Fall 1992
  27. ^ a b Our Sacred Mission", speech at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, New York, July 20, 1991""". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. 
  28. ^ The Michael Eric Dyson reader By Michael Eric Dyson; p. 91
  29. ^ Greenberg, p. 2
  30. ^ a b c d e Dollinger, pp. 4–5
  31. ^ Greenberg, p. 4
  32. ^ Forman, p. 193
  33. ^ Branch, Taylor, 1999, Pillar of fire: America in the King years, 1963–65, Simon and Schuster, 1999, p. 354.
  34. ^ Schneier, Rabbi Marc (1999). Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community. Jewish Lights.  
  35. ^ a b Forman, p. 21
  36. ^ The Essential Writings (1986), p. 370
  37. ^ West, Cornel (2001). Race Matters. Beacon Press, p. 71.
  38. ^ Kaye/Kantrowitz, Melanie (2007). The colors of Jews: racial politics and radical diasporism. Indiana University Press, 2007. pp. 33, 36.
  39. ^ Hacker, in Adams, p. 22
  40. ^ Greenberg, Cheryl, "The Southern Jewish Community and the Struggle for Civil Rights", in Franklin, pp. 123–129
  41. ^ a b Webb, p. xiii
  42. ^ Bauman, Mark K. The quiet voices: southern rabbis and Black civil rights, 1880s to 1990s.
  43. ^ Webb, p. xi
  44. ^ a b Greenberg, p. 13
  45. ^ Carson, Clayborne. "Blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights movement: the case of SNCC", in Bridges and Boundaries (Salzman, Ed), pp. 36–49.
  46. ^ Forman, pp. 11–12.
  47. ^ Finley, Stephen C., 2009, African American Religious Cultures, ABC-CLIO, pp. 111–116, esp. p. 113.
  48. ^ Adams, Maurianne (Ed). (1999), Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States. See Part II: "African-Americans as the Chosen People", especially pp. 84–101
  49. ^ Ben-Jochannan, p. 306.
  50. ^ Ben Levy, Sholomo. "The Black Jewish or Hebrew Israelite Community".  
  51. ^ Johannes P. Schade, ed. (2006). "Black Hebrews". Encyclopedia of World Religions. Franklin Park, N.J.: Foreign Media Group.  
  52. ^ Bahrampour, Tara (June 26, 2000). "They're Jewish, With a Gospel Accent".  
  53. ^ Chireau, Yvonne (2000). "Black Culture and Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism, 1790–1930, an Overview". In Yvonne Patricia Chireau,  
  54. ^ Muhammad , Elijah, 1973, The Fall of America, BooksGuide, p. 133
  55. ^ Chireau, Yvonne Patricia, Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 111
  56. ^ Sevenson, Marshall F. "African-Americans and Jews in Organized labor", in Franklin, p. 237.
  57. ^ 70 Years Strong: The Jewish Labor Committee Story, Jewish Labor Committee, 2004
  58. ^ a b Hill, Herbert "Black-Jewish Conflict in the Labor Context", in Franklin, pp. 10, 265–279
  59. ^ Hill, Herbert (1998), "Black-Jewish conflict in the Labor Context", in Adams, pp. 597–599
  60. ^ a b Hill, Herbert "Black-Jewish Conflict in the Labor Context", in Franklin, pp. 272–283
  61. ^ Hill, Herbert "Black-Jewish Conflict in the Labor Context", in Franklin, pp. 294–286
  62. ^ Carson, Clayborne, (1984) "Blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights movement: the Case of SNCC", in Adams, p. 583
  63. ^ West, pp. 73–74
  64. ^ Hacker; in Adams, p. 20
  65. ^ "Conversation with Martin Luther King". Conservative Judaism (The Rabbinical Assembly) 22 (3). 1968. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  66. ^ Dr. King (January 20, 2003). "Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  67. ^ Kaufman, p. 2.
  68. ^ Forman, pp. 21–22.
  69. ^ Hill, Herbert "Black-Jewish Conflict in the Labor Context", in Franklin, p. 286
  70. ^ Greenberg, pp, 13, 236–237
  71. ^ Singh, Robert (1997), The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American, Georgetown University Press, p. 246
  72. ^ West, p. 77
  73. ^ McDowell, Winston C., "Keeping them 'In the same boat together'?" in Franklin, pp. 208–236.
  74. ^ Russell, Thadeus, "Sufi Abdul Hamid" in Harlem Renaissance lives from the African American National Biography, Henry Louis Gates (Ed.), 2009, pp. 235–236.
  75. ^ Kaufman, p. 3.
  76. ^ Sabato, Larry J. (1998). "Jesse Jackson's 'Hymietown' Remark – 1984".  
  77. ^ West, p. 75
  78. ^ "African American Antisemitism in the 1999s" in Encyclopedia of American Jewish history, Volume 1 (Stephen Harlan Norwood, Eunice G. Pollack, Eds) p. 195
  79. ^ Anti-Defamation League Survey [1].
  80. ^ Chireau, Yvonne Patricia, Black Zion: African American religious encounters with Judaism, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 94
  81. ^ Shipp, E. R. (June 29, 1984). "Tape Contradicts Disavowal of 'Gutter Religion' Attack". The New York Times. pp. A12. 
  82. ^ ref name="">Minister Farrakhan rebuts fraudulent "Judaism is a Gutter Religion" canard.
  83. ^ Letter from Louis Farrakhan.
  84. ^ Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism, Yvonne Patricia Chireau, Nathaniel Deutsch, 2000, pp. 91–113
  85. ^ Kaufman, p. 1
  86. ^ Dollinger, Mark. "Nation of Islam", in Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume 2, p. 484
  87. ^ Dyson, Michael, The Michael Eric Dyson reader, p. 91
  88. ^ Austen, Ralph A., "The Uncomfortable Relationship: African Enslavement in the Common History of Blacks and Jews", in Adams, p.132
  89. ^ Austen, Ralph A. (1994), "The Uncomfortable Relationship: African Enslavement in the Common History of Blacks and Jews", in Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States (M. Adams, Ed), pp. 132–135
  90. ^ Such as Jews and the American Slave Trade by Saul S. Friedman
  91. ^ Davis, David Brion (1984), Slavery and Human Progress, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, p. 89 
  92. ^ Wiznitzer, Arnold, Jews in colonial Brazil, Columbia University Press, 1960, p. 72
  93. ^ Raphael, Jews and Judaism in the United States: a documentary history, p. 14
  94. ^ Wim Klooster (University of Southern Maine): By Eli FaberJews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight.Review of . Reappraisals in Jewish Social and Intellectual History. William and Mary Quarterly Review of Books. Volume LVII, Number 1. by Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. 2000
  95. ^ Tony Martin, "Incident at Wellesley College: Jewish Attack on Black Academics",, no date. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
  96. ^ Black, Chris, "Jewish groups rap Wellesley professor", Boston Globe, April 7, 1993, p. 26
  97. ^ Leo, John (2008), “The Hazards of Telling the Truth”, The Wall Street Journal; 15 April 2008 issue, page D9
  98. ^ Gilles Kepel, Allah in the West: Islamic Movements in America and Europe, Stanford University Press, 1997 pp. 68–69
  99. ^ Hacker, Andrew (1999) "Jewish Racism, Black anti-Semitism," in Strangers & Neighbors: Relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States Maurianne Adams (Ed.). University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.
  100. ^ Hacker, Andrew (1999) "Jewish Racism, Black anti-Semitism", in Strangers & Neighbors: Relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States—Maurianne Adams (Ed.). Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1999. p. 19. Hacker quotes James Baldwin to support the racism claim.
  101. ^ Hacker, in Adams, p. 22. Hacker is quoting author Julius Lester."
  102. ^ Forman, pp. 14–15
  103. ^ Branch, Taylor "Blacks and Jews: The Uncivil War", in Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews (Salzman, Ed), 1992
  104. ^ Blacks in the Jewish Mind: A Crisis of Liberalism, Seth Forman, NYU Press, 1998: p. 15
  105. ^ Shipler, David K. (January 30, 1981). "Israelis Urged To Act Over Black Hebrew Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-28
  106. ^ Diner, p. xi


See also

Historian Hasia Diner writes: "Never a relationship of equals, [many blacks] assert, Jews sat on the boards of black organizations and held power in black institutions but never allowed for the reverse. [Jews] gave money to civil rights organizations and demanded the right to make decisions by virtue of the power of their purses."[106]

Historian Taylor Branch in his 1992 essay "Blacks and Jews: The Uncivil War", asserted that Jews have been "perpetrators of racial hate," citing the case of three thousand members of the "African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem", founded in 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, were denied citizenship as Jews when they moved en masse to Israel, claiming that they were returning to their ancestral homeland, claiming their right of citizenship as Jews under the Israeli law of return; Branch saw this as an example of what he described as anti-Black sentiment among Israeli Jews.[102][103] Branch was criticized by Seth Forman, who said the claims seem baseless, particularly in light of Israel's airlift of thousands of black Ethiopian Jews in the early 1990s.[104] A group of American civil rights activists led by Bayard Rustin investigated and concluded that racism was not the cause of the Black Hebrews' situation after they had emigrated from the U.S.[105]

Political scientist Andrew Hacker documented an African-American author who said: "Jews tend to be a little self-righteous about their liberal record, ... we realize that they were pitying us and wanted our gratitude, not the realization of the principles of justice and humanity... Blacks consider [Jews] paternalistic. Black people have destroyed the previous relationship which they had with the Jewish community, in which we were the victims of a kind of paternalism, which is only a benevolent racism."[101]

The counterpoint to black antisemitism is Jewish anti-black racism.[99] Some black customers and tenants felt that the Jewish shopkeepers and landlords treated them unfairly or were racist.[100]

Jewish racism

Henry Gates, head of the department of Afro-American studies at Harvard University, called the book "the bible of new anti-Semitism" and added that "the book massively misinterprets the historical record, largely through a process of cunningly selective quotations of often reputable sources".[98]

Tony Martin of Wellesley College included The Secret relationship between Blacks and Jews in the reading list for his classes, leading to charges of anti-semitism in 1993.[95][96][97]

One of the sources that Jeffries cited was The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published in 1991 by the Nation of Islam.[88] That book alleges that Jews played a major role in the African slave trade, and it became the source of tremendous controversy,[89] and resulted in several scholarly works rebutting its charges.[90] Most mainstream scholars concluded that Jews had little major or continuing impact on the history of New World slavery,[91] and possessed far fewer slaves than non-Jews in every British territory in North America and the Caribbean, and—except in Brazil, Suriname, and Curaçao[92][93]—they did not play leading roles as financiers, shipowners, or factors in the transatlantic or Caribbean slave trades.[94]

During the 1990s, much of the Jewish-black conflict centered on Jewish involvement with the slave trade. An early controversial comment on that topic was made by professor Leonard Jeffries in a 1991 speech in which he said that "rich Jews" financed the slave trade, citing the role of Jews in slave-trading centers Rhode Island, Brazil, the Caribbean, Curaçao, and Amsterdam.[27] His comments drew widespread outrage and calls for his dismissal from his position.[87]

Gates seated, wearing formal attire
Henry Gates, head of the department of Afro-American studies at Harvard University, called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews "the bible of new anti-Semitism"

Jews and the slave trade

Other Nation of Islam representatives have made explicitly anti-semitic remarks. In 1993, Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad called Jews "bloodsuckers" in a public speech, leading to widespread public condemnation. The current leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, has made several remarks that the Anti-Defamation League and others consider anti-semitic, including referring to Judaism as a "dirty religion"[81] and calling Hitler a "very great man."[82][83] Farrakhan denies that the remarks are anti-semitic.[84][85][86]

The Elijah Muhammad, targeted whites in general, and asserted that whites—as well as Jews—are devils, implicated in the history of racism against blacks. But Muhammad did not consider Jews to be any more corrupt or oppressive than other whites.[80]

Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam, has made several remarks that the Anti-Defamation League and others considered anti-semitic

Nation of Islam

During the 1990s, much of the antisemitism in the black community originated on college campuses, and centered on alleged Jewish dominance of the slave trade.[78] Prof. African Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to hold antisemitic beliefs, although there is a strong correlation between education level and the rejection of antisemitic stereotypes for all races. However, black Americans of all education levels are nevertheless significantly more likely than whites of the same education level to be antisemitic. In the 1998 survey, blacks (34%) were nearly four times as likely as whites (9%) to fall into the most antisemitic category (those agreeing with at least 6 of 11 statements that were potentially or clearly antisemitic). Among blacks with no college education, 43% fell into the most antisemitic group (vs. 18% for the general population), which fell to 27% among blacks with some college education, and 18% among blacks with a four-year college degree (vs. 5% for the general population).[79]

In 1991, during the Crown Heights riot, black antisemitism was evident in the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, an orthodox Jew who was murdered by a black mob in New York City.[77]

Conflict between Jews and Blacks increased as a result of widely publicized anti-semitic remarks made in 1984 by then-presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, and these remarks extended the era of African-American and Jewish distrust into the 1980s.[30][75][76]

An early example of an accusation of black anti-semitism was black activist Sufi Abdul Hamid, who was accused of anti-semitism for his leadership in 1935 boycots against Harlem merchants and establishments (often owned by Jewish proprietors) that he claimed discriminated against blacks.[73][74]

Some leaders of the black community have made anti-semitic public comments, which often reflect wider anti-semitic sentiments held by some blacks, often involving over-aggressiveness, loyalty to Israel (rather than the United States), alleged participation in the slave trade, and economic oppression.[71] Some analysts attribute black anti-semitism to resentment or envy "directed at another underdog who has 'made it' in American society".[72]

Black anti-semitism

[70] A widely publicized example of the black-Jewish conflict arose in 1978 affirmative action case of [69] A survey of affirmative-action lawsuits shows that Jewish organizations have generally opposed affirmative-action programs.

Many blacks supported affirmative action, while many Jews did not, preferring instead merit-based systems, and that conflict was an important aspect of the decline of the black-Jewish alliance in the 1970s.[30][67][68] The conflict is partially explained by the failure of the civil rights movement to fulfill its early promise of equality for blacks, which provoked an increasing militancy within the black community, which—in turn—led to increased resentment and fear among Jews.[44]

Affirmative action

The support of Palestinians is frequently due to the consideration of them as people of color—[65] Martin Luther King Jr. notably condemned anti-Zionism as antisemitic.[66]

The concerns of blacks continued, and in 1993, black philosopher Cornel West wrote in Race Matters: "Jews will not comprehend what the symbolic predicament and literal plight of Palestinians in Israel means to blacks.... Blacks often perceive the Jewish defense of the state of Israel as a second instance of naked group interest, and, again, an abandonment of substantive moral deliberation."[63]

After Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 Six-Day War, some American blacks supported the Palestinians and criticized Israel's actions, for example by publicly supporting Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.[30] Immediately after the war, the editor of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's (SNCC) newsletter wrote an article criticizing Israel, and asserting that the war was an effort to regain Palestinian land and that during the 1948 war, "Zionists conquered the Arab homes and land through terror, force, and massacres". This article led to conflict between Jews and the SNCC, but black SNCC leaders treated the war as a "test of their willingness to demonstrate SNCC's break from its civil rights past".[62]

Criticism of Zionism

The New York City teacher's strike of 1968 also signaled the decline of black-Jewish relations: the Jewish president of the United Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker made statements that were seen by some as straining black-Jewish relations by accusing black teachers of anti-semitism.[61]

Beginning in early 1962, allegations were made by NAACP labor director Herbert Hill that during the 1940s and through to the 1960s, the JLC also defended anti-black discriminatory practices of unions in the garment industry and building industry.[58][59] Hill claims that the JLC changed "a black white conflict into a Black-Jewish conflict".[58] The JLC defended Jewish leaders of International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) against charges of anti-black racial discrimination, distored government reports about discrimination, failed to tell union members the truth, and when union members complained, the JLC labeled the members anti-semitic.[60] ILGWU leaders denounced Black members for demanding equal treatment and access to leadership positions.[60]

In the immediate post-World War II period, the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), which was founded in February 1934 to oppose the rise of Nazism in Germany, formed approximately two dozen local committees to combat racial intolerance in the U.S and Canada. The JLC, which had local offices in a number of communities in North America, helped found the United Farm Workers and campaigned for the passage California's Fair Employment Practices Act, and provided staffing and support for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led by Martin Luther King, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin.[57]

The labor movement was another area of the relationship that flourished before WW II, but ended in conflict after WW II. In the early 20th century, one important area of cooperation was attempts to increase minority representation in the leadership of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. In 1943, Jews and blacks joined to request the creation of a new department within the UAW dedicated to minorities, but that request was refused by UAW leaders.[56]

Herbert Hill (third from left), labor director of NAACP, wth Thurgood Marshall (second from left)

Labor movement

Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, claimed that blacks—not whites or Europeanized Jews—are the chosen people.[54] The current leader, Louis Farrakhan, has repudiated the notion that Jews are the chosen people, instead claiming this status for African-Americans. In a 1985 speech, Farrakhan said "I have a problem with Jews ... because I am declaring to the world that they are not the chosen people of God. ... You, the black people of America and the Western Hemisphere [are]."[55]

Black Hebrew Israelites are groups of people mostly of Black American ancestry situated mainly in the Americas who claim to be descendants of the ancient Israelites and therefore God's chosen people.[47] Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism. They are generally not accepted as Jews by the greater Jewish community. Many Black Hebrews consider themselves—and not Jews—to be the only authentic descendants of the ancient Israelites.[48] Some groups self-identify as Hebrew Israelites, others as Black Hebrews, and others as Jews.[49][50][51][52] Dozens of Black Hebrew groups were founded during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.[53]

Blacks as the chosen people

In 1967, black academic Harold Cruse attacked Jewish activism in his 1967 volume 'The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual' in which he argued that Jews had become a problem for blacks precisely because they had so identified with the Black struggle. Cruse insisted that Jewish involvement in interracial politics impeded the emergence of "Afro-American ethnic consciousness". For Cruse, as well as for other black activists, the role of American Jews as political mediator between Blacks and whites was "fraught with serious dangers to all concerned" and must be "terminated by Negroes themselves."[46]

In 1966, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) voted to exclude whites from its leadership, and that resulted in the expulsion of several Jewish leaders.[30][45]

Starting in 1966, the collaboration between Jews and blacks started to unravel. Jews were increasingly transitioning to middle-class and upper-class status, distancing themselves from blacks. At the same time, many black leaders, including some from the Black Power movement, became outspoken in their demands for greater equality, often criticizing Jews along with other white targets.[44]

Black power movement

Recent decades have shown a greater trend for southern Jews to speak out on civil rights issues, as shown by the 1987 marches in Forsyth County, Georgia.[43]

The vast majority of civil rights activism by American Jews was undertaken by Jews from the northern states. Jews from the southern states engaged in virtually no organized activity on behalf of civil rights.[40][41] This lack of participation was puzzling to some northern Jews, due to the "inability of the northern Jewish leaders to see that Jews ... were not generally victims in the South and that the racial caste system in the south situated Jews favorably in the Southern mind, or 'whitened' them."[35] However, there were some southern Jews that participated in civil rights activity as individuals.[41][42]

Southern Jews in the civil rights movement

Political scientist Andrew Hacker wrote: "It is more than a little revealing that whites who travelled south in 1964 referred to their sojourn as their 'Mississippi summer'. It is as if all the efforts of the local blacks for voter registration and the desegregation of public facilities had not even existed until white help arrived... Of course, this was done with benign intentions, as if to say 'we have come in answer to your calls for assistance'. The problem was... the condescending tone... For Jewish liberals, the great memory of that summer has been the deaths of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and—almost as an afterthought—James Chaney. Indeed, Chaney's name tends to be listed last, as if the life he lost was worth only three fifths of the others."[39]

Historian Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz points out that the number of northern Jews that went to the southern states numbered only a few hundred, and that the "relationship was frequently out of touch, periodically at odds, with both sides failing to understand each other's point of view."[38]

Philosopher and activist Cornel West asserts that there was no golden age in which "blacks and Jews were free of tension and friction". West says that this period of black–Jewish cooperation is often downplayed by blacks and romanticized by Jews: "It is downplayed by blacks because they focus on the astonishingly rapid entry of most Jews into the middle and upper middle classes during this brief period—an entry that has spawned... resentment from a quickly growing black impoverished class. Jews, on the other hand, tend to romanticize this period because their present status as upper middle dogs and some top dogs in American society unsettles their historic self-image as progressives with a compassion for the underdog."[37]

Some recent scholarship suggests that the "golden age" (1955–1966) of the black–Jewish relationship was not as ideal as often portrayed.

Questioning the "golden age"

How could there be anti-Semitism among Negroes when our Jewish friends have demonstrated their commitment to the principle of tolerance and brotherhood not only in the form of sizable contributions, but in many other tangible ways, and often at great personal sacrifice. Can we ever express our appreciation to the rabbis who chose to give moral witness with us in St. Augustine during our recent protest against segregation in that unhappy city? Need I remind anyone of the awful beating suffered by Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld of Cleveland when he joined the civil rights workers there in Hattiesburg, Mississippi? And who can ever forget the sacrifice of two Jewish lives, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in the swamps of Mississippi? It would be impossible to record the contribution that the Jewish people have made toward the Negro's struggle for freedom—it has been so great.[36]

Martin Luther King, Jr., said in 1965,

The summer of 1964 was designated the Freedom Summer, and many northern Jews traveled south to participate in a concentrated voter registration effort. Two Jewish activists, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, and one black activist, James Chaney, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Mississippi, as a result of their participation. Their deaths were considered martyrdom by some, and temporarily strengthened black-Jewish relations.

Murder of Jewish civil rights activists

Northern Jews often supported integration in their communities and schools, even at the risk of diluting their close-knit Jewish communities, which often were a critical component of Jewish life.[35]

Religious leaders, such as rabbis and Baptist ministers, often played key roles in the civil rights movement, including Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Selma civil rights march. Sixteen Jewish leaders were arrested while heeding a call from King in St. Augustine, Florida, in June 1964, where the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place at the Monson Motor Lodge.[33] Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, authored "Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community" about the historic relationship between African and Jewish Americans as way to encourage a return to strong ties following years of animosity that reached its apex during the Crown Heights riot.[34]

Jewish participation in the civil rights movement often correlated with their branch of Judaism: [32]

The reasons for Jewish support of black causes were rooted both in the Jewish appreciation for slavery, and Jewish self-interest—according to historian Greenberg, "It is significant that ... a disproportionate number of white civil rights activists were [Jewish] as well. Jewish agencies engaged with their African American counterparts in a more sustained and fundamental way than did other white groups largely because their constituents and their understanding of Jewish values and Jewish self-interest pushed them in that direction."[31]

which outlawed discriminatory voting practices. Voting Rights Act of 1965 which outlawed racial or religious discrimination in schools and public facilities, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 This era of cooperation culminated in the passage of the [30] Cooperation between Jewish and African-American organizations peaked after

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (2nd from right) in the Selma Civil Rights March with Martin Luther King, Jr. (4th from right).

Civil rights movement

Some blacks have criticized Jewish movie producers for portraying blacks in a racist manner. In 1990, at a NAACP convention in Los Angeles, Legrand Clegg, founder of the Coalition Against Black Exploitation, a pressure group that lobbied against negative screen images of African-Americans, alleged that "the century-old problem of Jewish racism in Hollywood" denies blacks access to positions of power in the industry and portrays blacks in a derogatory manner: "If Jewish leaders can complain of black anti-Semitism, our leaders should certainly raise the issue of the century-old problem of Jewish racism in Hollywood.... No Jewish people ever attacked or killed black people. But we're concerned with Jewish producers who degrade the black image. It's a genuine concern. And when we bring it up, our statements are distorted and we're dragged through the press as anti-Semites."[25][26] Professor Leonard Jeffries echoed those comments in a speech in 1991 at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival, in Albany, New York: Jeffries said that Jews controlled the film industry, using it to paint a negative stereotype of blacks.[27][28]


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