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May 26, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-05-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Community Views

Editor's Notebook

Black Anti-Jewish Rhetoric
Is Having Its Effect

Fix The Toilet
Or Topple The Building?



Tony Martin, a fac-
ulty member at
Wellesley College,
delivered a lecture
at the University
of Massachusetts
. at Amherst. He
sounded what
have become
alarmingly famil-
iar themes: the Jews have
brought ruin and disaster to
African Americans; they have
been "bloodsuckers" since the be-
ginnings of the slave trade; Jews
"dominated" that tragic enter-
prise and were responsible for the
"black Holocaust."
Mr. Martin terrified a Jewish
undergraduate who watched as
more than a thousand enthusi-
astic black students responded
with applause
and cheers.
The student
left in tears
and sought
help through
an e-mail net-
work on the
history of anti-
Semitism. No
one could give
her assistance
or relief. It
caused much
academic ago-
nizing, but in
the end, little
practical ad-
vice could be
like Mr. Mar-
tin's easily
prompts hys-
teria, an un-
productive response. However,
Mr. Martin and his ilk ought not
to be dismissed lightly or ignored,
but understood, if racism can ever
be understood.
As Leonard Dinnerstein has
shown in his work on the history
of anti-Semitism in America,
black anti-Semitism is not a new
phenomenon. Tony Martin, like
Khalid Abdul Muhammad and
Louis Farrakhan, represents a
new breed of anti-Semite. They
make specious claims to acade-
mic and historical integrity,
adding a startling new twist or
two to these old canards. Posing
as scholars, however, has not
kept them from resorting to less
than intellectual tactics in fight-
ing academic battles.
Mr. Martin has even sued
Mary Lefkowitz, Mellon Profes-
sor of Humanities at Wellesley,
because she criticized his book;
David Brion Davis, one of Amer-
ica's foremost historians on slav-
ery, was prevented from speaking
Sidney Bolkosky is professor of
history and director of honors,
University of Michigan,




at Howard University; the dis-
tinguished classicist at Howard,
Molly Meyerowitz Levine, re-
ceived threats because of her ar-
ticles debunking the theory of
Black Athena.
Since the 1920s, black nation-
alist and separatist movements
have sometimes made Jews
scapegoats for injustices against
African Americans. Mr. Dinner-
stein traces the origins of such
hostility to 1859, although that
anti-Semitism, he says, derives
from traditional white, Christian
anti-Jewish theology.
The nationalist brand of black
anti-Semitism has been most fre-
quent in northern cities, where
the whites with whom poor
blacks interacted tended to be
Jewish merchants or landlords,

Paul Berman, editor of a col-
lection of essays titled Blacks
and Jews, contends that as the
liberal agenda increasingly frus-
trated black aspirations, main-
stream groups and their leaders
increasingly turned from the task
of building interracial coalitions
to address the underlying eco-
nomic social causes of black
poverty. Unable to ignore the pal-
pable success of rehabilitation
achieved by Louis Farrakhan
and his cohorts, "group survival,"
represented by the likes of the
Nation of Islam, supplanted the
liberal, interracial agenda.
Whatever the reasons, African
American leaders seem to have
assumed a position of solidarity
in the name of the strength of the
"nation," even if that means
abandoning the
fundamental val-
ues upon which
liberation has
been grounded,
and tacitly con-
. k :
doning vile and
_ - ----1
malicious racist
- A -:-..-.- ' : r'.-
ideologues and
. 1 4(1 .'7,-
-:' 1, 7- "'" -- .---•,_ --".'---- ---___
ideas. Such
' ' : , . ... i... -'-'7
attitudes dan-
7.---- -4."'..
Lr- "
gerously echo
themes from Eu-

rope in the 1930s
and 1940s —
themes all too fa-
miliar to Jews.
The newest el-
ement in black
anti-Semitism is
the claim Jew-
ish control of the
slave trade. With
this argument
' comes tradition-
teachers or social workers.
al forms of anti-Jewish rhetoric
Yet, by the 1950s, the largely which place us at the center of
middle-class leadership of the civ- various conspiracies. You've
il-rights movement found Jewish heard them all: the killing of Je-
liberals more than cooperative in sus, the control of commerce, the
what they perceived as a common ruling of Europe with capitalism
struggle against racism and in a or its conquer with communism;
spirit of mutual victimization.
the control of Hollywood and the
The majority of freedom riders exploitation of blacks; the drain-
in the Freedom Summer of 1964 ing of life from black ghettos to
were Jewish college students. keep African Americans impov-
Other Jews, less willing to risk erished for the mysterious bene-
life and limb, donated large sums fit of Jews everywhere, and most
of money. By 1965, between half recently, the purposeful infection
and three-quarters of the money of the black population with
raised by the civil-rights move- AIDS. Like the rest of those ac-
ment came from Jewish contrib- cusations, this one is unhistori-
utors. Jewish lawyers, clergymen cal, but with some perceived
and celebrities were visibly iden- germ of reality that makes it be-
tified with the NAACP and Mar- lievable.
tin Luther King Jr.
Tony Martin's speeches are
What had already emerged, emotionally charged but not
however, was a division between without logic. The text for his
Jewish middle-class supporters claims about slavery and Jews is
of the movement, who ground- the Nation of Islam's The Secret
ed their actions in liberal-demo- Relationship Between Blacks and
cratic ideals, and Jews who Jews, a book which boasts 1275
actually came in contact with footnotes, most of which cite Jew-
ghetto blacks and tended to dis- ish sources. The references, how-
regard both the ideals and the ever, are flagrantly distorted and
movement. A similar split exist- misquoted.
ed among African Americans.


America is the
greatest country
on earth. It al-
ways has been,
always will be.
Do you know
It's not be-
AI cause of its
tremendous re-
sources, its diverse population
or its jealously guarded free-
doms. The reason America is
great is because everything is
Sure, there are problems in
our society, but they can be
fixed. In the 1960s, the favorite
fix was: "Throw money at it."
Or, "Save the world from corn-
munism." Or, "Love it or leave
it." In the 1990s, the fa-
vorite fixes are "conservative"
(as opposed to "liberal," pinko,
Commie or leftist), "balanced"
(as in budget), "prayer" (as in
school) and "anti-government"
(as in the gun crowd).
Let me show you how this
works. Take some examples
from last Thursday's daily news-
* The Republicans propose
moving the United States em-
bassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to
* The United States vetoes a
U.N. resolution condemning Is-
rael's expropriation of Arab land
in Jerusalem.
* A forensic chemist links O.J.
Simpson's blood to the murder
scene where Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ronald Goldman
* G. Gordon Liddy was
named winner of the 1995 Free-
dom of Speech Award by the Na-
tional Association of Radio Talk
Show Hosts.
* The Christian Coalition an-
nounces its 10-point "Contract
With the American Family."
* Sen. Bob Packwood of Ore-
gon is accused of sexual mis-
What do all of these issues
have in common? Expediency.
Throughout the terms of
Presidents Nixon, Ford and
Bush, the Republicans could
have moved America's embassy
in Israel to wherever they
pleased. Why not then? Why
Fourteen U.N. Security Coun-
cil nations voted to condemn Is-
rael. Only the United States
opposed. Why didn't the Securi-
ty Council take similar action
against the city of Southfield
when it forced 17 homeowners
near 1-696 and Evergreen to sell
and move out in favor of an of-
fice complex? How different is
Israel's "expropriation" of 140
O.J. Simpson? If you didn't
like Henry Ford I peddling The

Protocols of the Learned Elders
of Zion or the Michigan Militia
et.al. sniping at the government
(remember the words of the fam-
ilies in Oklahoma City: "We are
the government"), how can you
buy into O.J.'s expensive de-
G. Gordon Liddy? Bob Pack-
wood? — my favorite American
heroes. No wonder nobody votes
anymore. One, a government in-
sider who served time for lead-
ing the Watergate break-in, is
cited for telling the world that
it's all right to shoot government
employees, especially when the
government is controlled by the
other political party. (I repeat:
Remember Oklahoma City. We
are the government.) The other
has been coddled by his con-
gressional peers while years of
charges of misconduct have been
swept under the rug. Why? It
was expedient. They needed the
powerful member (now chair-
man) of the Senate Finance
Which brings us to the Chris-
tian right-wing, the Christian
Coalition, and its latest propos-
als. In response I give you my
latest Hero of the Week, Roger
Tuinstra, principal of Bloom-
ingdale (Mich.) High School.
By now Mr. Tuinstra may
have been fired by a school
board that has spent years and
thousands of dollars of taxpay-
ers' money defending a portrait
of Jesus Christ in a public high-
school hallway.

In our haste to fix
things, we run the
risk of destroying.

After the case wound its way
through the state and federal
courts to the U.S. Supreme
Court, the little southwestern
Michigan town was forced to re-
move the portrait.
In its place, students and
school-board members placed a
cloth with miniature pins of the
original portrait. I presume it
would not have taken too long
before the school district would
have found itself in contempt of
court. But Mr. Tuinstra took
matters into his own hands and
removed the new display.
It may be hard to discern, but
there's a string through all these
otherwise unconnected events.
In our haste to fix things, to cre-
ate in America that utopia we
all strive for, we run the risk of
destroying, not fixing.
We run that risk whenever
we attempt to make something
better. That doesn't mean we
shouldn't try. It just means we
have to be careful.

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