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September 28, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-09-28

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Friday, September 28, 1919 5


Volume Evokes Discussion of Anti-Semitism, Black Animosity

Those who lived in the
U.S. during the period be-
tween the two World Wars
need no proof of anti-
Semitism. The manifesta-
tions were all too obvious.
But the generation on the
American scene after the
Holocaust may not have
been exposed to some of the
subtle experiences recorded
by Nathan C. pelth in "A
Promise to Keep" (Times
Books) under the auspices of
the Bnai Brith Anti-
Defamation League.
The author traces the
first anti-Semitic incident
in the U.S. to Peter
Stuyvesant of New Amster-
dam who attempted to oust
the first Jewish settlers in
1654. But the episode that
evoked considerable discus-
sion occurred in 1877 when
Joseph Seligman, a Jewish
financier of the Union, was
refused admittance to Hil-
ton's Hotel at Saratoga,
N.Y. Important national
figures such as Mark Twain
and Oliver Wendell Holmes
came to his support. There
were some who felt the an-
tagonism represented a
xenophobia (fear of stran-
gers) which was also di-
rected at Catholics and
other south Europeans.
The new vogue of scien-
tific race and nordic
superiority gave impetus to
many restrictive acts such
as ethinic origin and liter-
acy tests of a national
tongue (as Russian), exclud-
ing the native tongue (Yid-
In December 1862,
General Grant ordered
all Jews expelled from
Tennessee because of al-
leged "trading with the
enemy." This unusual
order was vetoed by
President Lincoln.
The year 1915 saw the
first and only lynching of an
innocent Jew. In Atlanta,
Leo Frank was hung after
journalistic incitement by
Tom Watson. Five years
later Henry Ford launched
his attacks on Jews. These
continued for seven years
and ended with a public re-
traction after a publicized
However, damage was
done to the image of the Jew
and the derogatory char-
acterizations penetrated
vaudeville, the press, and
movies. This mood was in-
tensified by the Ku Klux
lan in the South. In
urope, Chamberlain
'called "Jewish existence a
crime against the holy laws
of life."
As a reaction, three
organizations were formed
to combat racial prejudice:
the American Jewish
Committee, 1906; the Bnai
Brith Anti-Defamation
League, 1908; the NAACP,
Attempts to limit immi-
gration, as well as admis-
sion of Jews to colleges
and social clubs contin-
ued for six decades. Even
the Boston Brahmin
Laurence H. Lowell
stated in 1922, "There are
too many Jews at Har-


yard." The depression
years saw the appear-
ance of the anti-Semitic
Coughlin, Long, the
German Bund, the Chris-
tian Front.
During World War II,
American Jews suffered
40,000 casualties, 8,000 of
which were combat deaths.
Some 36,000 Jews received
61,448 medals. The episode
of the Jewish chaplain,
along with the Catholic and
Protestant chaplains, hold-
ing hands in prayer while
going down with their ship,
after giving up 'their life
belts to the soldiers, had a
psychological effect upon
the American conscience.
Evidence of anti-
Semitism continued, how-
ever, in housing, colleges,
corporations and profes-
sions. This reviewer recalls
encountering a prominent
sign on the beach at Crystal
Lake in 1946.while trying to
rent a cottage: "No Jews or
Dogs Allowed." This
humiliation came after 31/2
years of combat service.
The post-war period wit-
nessed further attempts at
restricting Jews to college
admissions. In 1948, a study
showed that applicants of
Jewish-sounding names
were rejected more fre-
phenomena included:
Joseph McCarthy, The
Birch Society, Liberty
Lobby. It appeared that
Populism and Elitism
merged their anti-Jewish
In the late 1960s and
early 70s, the New Left
joined the Arabs in the bla-
tant charge of racism
against the state of Israel
and Zionism. There was no
hesitation in propagating
the forged "Protocols of
Zion," using the oil weapon
and petro-dollars as
blackmail to boycott Jewish
interests. Some indus-
trialists as well as. U.S.
representatives were all too
eager to comply.
About 1960, an epidemic
of swastikas defaced and de-
secrated Jewish buildings
and institutions. There
were 643 incidents. Another
shocking episode in the 70s
was the accusation by Gen.
George Brown that Ameri-
can Jews controlled the
banks and the media.
Belth's account of the re-
lation of blacks to Jews be-
comes more relevant in
light of the Andrew Young
aftemath. The author nar-
rates how the anti-Semetic
magazine, "The Liberator,"
accused Jews of dominating
civil rights movements and
black colleges, this undue
influence being strangely
attributed to the millions of
dollars contributed to Negro
colleges by the Jewish
philanthropist Julius
Rosenwald and his founda-
Black Muslims, radi-
cals, Panthers, Malcolm
X, Stokely Carmichael,
Rap Brown, Eldridge
Cleaver and others were
vicious in calling Israel
"immoral, illegal and un-
just" and American Jews

"the enemy."
Cleaver returned to the
U.S. after a stay in Algeria
and recanted his anti-
Zionism line, and with mea
culpa stated: "To condemn
the Jewish survival of
Zionism as racism is a
travesty upon the truth."
In spite of the obvious
handwriting on the wall,
some still refused to recog-
nize the new situation. The
Andrew Young episode
started a search for an
agonizing reappraisal.
It may be noted that it is
the more educated black
who is anti-semitic — which
is in sharp contrast to the
Jewish attitudes that find
the intellectual elite to be
the most liberal. Coalitions
must be based on frankness
and honest mutuality and
not on instant demands.
Perhaps it is more construc-
tive for society to offer edu-
cational aid to the young
It appears that the
blacks resent being re-
minded of the contribu-
tion Jews made to civil
rights with their lives,
leadership and money,
and reject the gratitude
expected from them by
countering that the pur-
pose of the help was self-
ish — to mollify a guilty
conscience. It is a known
truism that benefactors
are frequently resented
and hated.
Since Belth limits his
presentation to "a narrative
of American encounter
with anti-Semitism," with
no intention to probe for the
roots, it is quite pertinent to
present a few paragraphs
from a paper by this re-
viewer presented in
Jerusalem at a Social Psy-
chiatry Congress in 1972:
"A psychological under-
standing of the militant
black is that his new self-
awareness and search for
identity favor group solidar-
ity and antagonism to
others. He is like the adoles-
cent, whose search for iden-
tity is accompanied by a re-
stless and tumultous self-
expression, and intoxicated
with power, flexes his m _ us-
"The American blacks
tend to identify themselves
with the Afro-Asian Mos-
lems in conflict with whites
— ignoring the historical
truth that it was the Arabs
who sold them into slavery.

"In the urban areas, the
black may associate the
Israeli with the Jewish
landlord who serves as a
convenient target for all
the unsolved problems.
One reason is that the
Jew is only one step
higher on the social es-
calator. The black who
was first accepted in the
Jewish neighborhood
sees the Jewish mer-
chant, teacher, physi-
cian, or social worker
whom he envies. He does
not see the top echelon of
the interlocking directo-
rates of the large corpo-
rations that represent the
real power and wealth of
the country."

As to what course Jewish
leadership should follow,
one may answer in the
manner of Ben Gurion who
told the British, in essence:
We shall fight the White
Paper (prohibiting immi-
gration) as if there was no
war, and we shall battle the
Nazis as if there was no
White Paper." To parap-
hrase the current situation:
"We shall fight for civil
rights as if there is no black
anti-Semitism, and we re-




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sent any anti-Semitism re-
gardless of civil rights is-
Thee recent hasty at-
tempts at dialogue failed to
grasp the rage reaction
which was more in the na-
ture of a tantrum, making
rational interaction im-
possible. One would wish
that our leadership include
a wider democratic repre-
sentation whose historical
grasp extends beyond local


• IP

, 1


Dais, Iy m

"Cooling it" has merit if
by that is meant a deliber-
ate judicious approach; but
if it implies silence then it is
indeed a grave error.
It is not in superior cul-
ture and higher education
that we may find saving
grace but rather in a
tolerance and understand-



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