African American–Jewish relations - Wikipedia
In her memoir, Deborah, Golda, and Me, Letty Cottin Pogrebin argued that black-Jewish relationships rested on a common history of oppression. Apr 23, When Jewish couple Mikey Franklin and Sonya Shpilyuk hung a "Black Lives Matter" banner from the window of their condominium, they. Feb 23, Created by two white Jews and featuring a mostly African American cast, 'Black Panther' might lead to reconciliation between.
The image of the two faith leaders has been a longtime emblem of black-Jewish alliance. The story of Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, two Jewish civil rights activists who were murdered in Mississippi along with James Chaney, a black activist, inis similarly notable.
Their murder was the basis of the acclaimed Academy Award-winning film Mississippi Burning.Issues of faith The black Jew from Royal Swaziland
But not all Jews view this golden age of black-Jewish relations as old allies reconnecting. Ma'Nishtana, a Brooklyn-based African-American Orthodox Jewish author and educator, believes this common narrative is a "romanticized and inflated revisionist history of how involved the Jewish community was during the civil rights era.
Jews realized that their self-interest rested in making sure that the United States didn't discriminate against anybody. History showed them that if anybody went first, Jews were sure to come next. Today, the term "ghetto" is used to refer to a poor, urban black community, but at the turn of the 20th century, ghettos in places like Harlem and the Bronx were also home to immigrant groups and American Jews. As Jews became more upwardly mobile, Greenberg said, "they benefitted from white privilege even though they didn't know it, and failed to recognize the structural barriers preventing black people from doing better economically.
They began to push a kind of race-blind approach to society. Bakke, a controversial affirmative action case that marked the first time black and Jewish groups filed amicus briefs on opposite sides of the same question. Divisions between the two groups became further entrenched as black activists embraced an anti-imperialist message and American Jews embraced loyalty to Israel, according to Marjorie Feld, a history professor at Babson College.
Today, Israel continues to be a flashpoint of conflict between blacks and Jews. In Augustthe Movement for Black Lives, a national umbrella organization encompassing over 50 organizations, released a policy platform titled "A Vision for Black Lives.
Black-Jewish relations in the U.S. have never been simple
Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. T'ruah, a coalition of rabbis that advocates for human rights, published a statement saying it agreed with many of the policy recommendations of the document, but objected to the characterization of the Israeli occupation as genocide.
A recent Pew Research study found that millennials are the only generational cohort in which fewer than half sympathize with Israel. Others settled in many of the American colonies. In northern cities like Newport, New York, and Boston, Jewish merchants and early industrialists found their livelihoods intertwined with various aspects of slavery and the slave trade; in the South a few Jews owned or traded slaves.
By and large, these early Jews reflected the views of their white Gentile neighbors; most Northern Jews opposed slavery, while most Southern Jews supported it. By and large, however, there was very little direct "relationship" at all between them. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, they began to meet in Northern urban centers as two major migration streams intersected: African Americans moving North and into cities in a decades-long flight from oppression, violence, and discrimination called the Great Migration, and East European Jews fleeing the same forces in a different setting.
Both groups often ended up in the same cities, sometimes even in the same neighborhoods. Similarly poor, they had few housing options. And Jews, who were considered not fully white themselves, who had had less exposure to American racism, were less violent than others, and by and large more radicalized by egalitarian ideologies like communism, socialism, and trade unionism, put up less resistance when African Americans moved into their neighborhoods.
This is why, over time, many Jewish neighborhoods became black, not without tension but generally without violence. These migrations enabled both communities to organize politically to address concerns about opportunity and equality. At the same time blacks and Jews met one another face to face, often for the first time, in economic interactions that more often revealed differences between the two communities than any sense of common cause.
Both developments were critical in shaping what we call black-Jewish relations. Migrants from both communities needed help settling in. Both were poor, subject to discrimination and bigotry, and both needed to help others left behind. So both communities established defense and protective organizations. Others joined multiracial political organizations like the Communist, Socialist, Democratic and Republican parties, and brought their community's social and cultural values with them.
The political Left in particular participated actively in civil rights efforts benefiting blacks and Jews, and stressed interracial action. Faced with similar challenges, however, there was virtually no cooperation between organizations from the two communities except on the Left. On the individual level, elite or politically well-connected Jews and African Americans often cooperated with one another.
Black socialist labor leader A. The black press described East European pogroms and the Jewish press covered lynchings. Beyond these individual or informational contacts, however, formal organizations rarely contacted their counterparts in the other community for cooperative action.
Too poor, too overwhelmed with their own needs, black and Jewish agencies were small and limited in resources. Blacks and Jews stayed apart as well because of black antisemitism and Jewish racism. These attitudes were less potent there than they were among white Christians but they had an impact nonetheless.
And there was one more concern, at least from the Jewish side. Jewish organizations struggling for acceptance recognized that racism was the stronger force and feared that any association with such a pariah group as blacks would hurt their own efforts.
But in practice, Frank's murder convinced many Jews that life in the United States was dangerous enough without taking on black people's problems as well. While relatively few blacks and Jews interacted politically outside of the Leftfar more encountered each other in economic venues. In virtually every case, Jews had the upper hand. Because Jews were white, they were able to benefit from the American system that apportioned opportunity more by race than by ethnicity or religion. Their white skin and the urban skills they had brought from Europe enabled Jews to succeed more quickly than African Americans; it was the exodus of better-off Jews into better neighborhoods that brought black tenants to Jewish areas in the first place.
So the inevitable tensions in poor neighborhoods between landlords and tenants, shopkeepers and customers, social workers and clients came to be seen as black-Jewish conflicts, and they reinforced stereotypes of greedy and unscrupulous Jews, or lazy or irresponsible blacks. Another point of contact between the two communities was the arts, especially music and the new medium of motion pictures. Meeting first in vaudeville and other performance areas, Jews also rose to positions of greater power and became impresarios and agents for black performers.
The same was also true in sports. Given the limited and hierarchical nature of relations between African Americans and American Jews, and although members of each community recognized the plight of the other, and were sensitive to prejudice, there was little positive mutual interaction in the first third of the 20th century.
- Encyclopedia Judaica: Black-Jewish Relations in the United States
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- African American–Jewish relations
This changed with the rise of Nazism. With Jews threatened in Europe, and with the rise of fascist and antisemitic groups in the United States, it became clear to Jewish organizations that they desperately needed allies.
And for black people, who recognized bigotry when they saw it, anti-Nazi efforts also offered the strongest challenge to American racism. The black press and several black groups therefore launched what they called a Double V campaign: Outspoken in their protest of Nazi atrocities, black groups also lost no opportunity to draw parallels with lynching and racial bigotry in the United States.
Black-Jewish cooperation in the s was clearly based on mutual self-interest, but one that recognized the shared danger inherent in any form of bigotry. These groups had come to recognize what the Left had been saying all along: The Ribbentrop-Molotov, German-Soviet pact, however, discredited the Left in the eyes of many liberals, and the emerging Cold War made suspect all programs espoused by Communists.
Stalin's purges alienated still more Jews, who abandoned the Communist Party for liberal and progressive Jewish political organizations.
Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They're Anti-White
Thus, Nazism and the war brought black and Jewish liberals to a new recognition of the importance of civil rights and racial tolerance. At the same time, anti-Communism also led them to limit their strategies, goals, and coalitions in ways that hobbled the potential for fundamental social change.
The stage was set for what many consider the "golden age" of black-Jewish relations. Political relations between black and Jewish political agencies warmed further as the modern civil rights movement gained real force. The two communities had gotten to know one another through common work.
Their organizations had become more desirable allies as their earlier successes brought increased membership, stronger finances, and greater political access.
And they shared a set of liberal values, including bringing change within the existing system; employing moderate, non-confrontational tactics in doing so; a commitment to the centrality of individual rights rather than privileges bestowed by membership in a group; and a conviction that it was the obligation of government to foster equal opportunity.
They advocated litigation, education, and legislation to bring about equality, evidenced, for example, in the American Jewish Congress's new Commission on Law and Social Action.
Tensions in Black-Jewish Relations
By the late s, liberal civil rights organizations rooted in the two communities slowly began to develop a close partnership, launching programs separately and jointly to improve conditions for racial and religious minorities. This can still be viewed as self-interest, but it was now a broader concept. The NAACPwith the help of all the main Jewish organizations, won a Supreme Court case declaring restrictive housing covenants unenforceable, which benefited both groups but particularly economically mobile Jews.
Board of Education case, as well as its predecessors, armed with amicus briefs from virtually every other black and Jewish civil rights organization along with other progressive, union, religious, and civic groups. The creation of New York's state college system was a joint black-Jewish effort to combat religious and racial discrimination in higher education.
Together they fought to make permanent the war's Fair Employment Practices Act, which outlawed employment discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin.