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February 10, 1989 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-10
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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

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Julius Lester
Converted Jew talks about the
state of Black-Jewish relations
Julius Lester has been a professor at the University of fa ssachusetts at Amherst since 1971. He has been an
outspoken figure since the sixties when, as part of the Black Power movement, he was a spokesperson for the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Recently, he was expelled from the Amherst's Department of Afro-
American Studies and moved to the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies when Black Colleagues took
exception to his criticisms of Black author James Baldwin.
The son of a Methodist minister, Lester converted to Judaism in 1983. His recent book, Lovesong: Becoming a
Jew, tells the story of his conversion. He recently spoke with Daily news reporter Gil Renberg.
INTER VIEW

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Continued from Page 6
thing for every taste and whim in the
program.
Kicking off the show are Billy
King, 9, and his brother Kenny, 7.
Supporting their new tape called The
King Brothers Sing The King, these
little guys with the big voices will
croon their way through some of
their favorites in the Elvis Presley
library.
After Billy and Kenny are sent off
to bed, Ann Arbor rockers Dog Sol-
dier will storm the ballroom. They
will be playing songs from their al-
bum, Name Your Poison, a raw
powered debut out of the city's finest
musical heritage.
"High speed, high energy word
jazz," brought to you by perennial
radio personalities Marc S. Taras and
Arwulf Arwulf, will turn some heads
next. Continuing in the jazz vein,

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Professional Advisors
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Monday through Friday
Spring/Summer
7:30 a.m.-12:00 noon: 12:30-4:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Daily: How have relations be-
tween Blacks and Jews changed in
the 25 years since the height of the
Civil Rights Movement?
Lester:- Well, sure they have
changed. So many things have
changed in the past 25 years. I think
that the empathy that existed be-
tween Blacks and Jews when I was
growing up in the '40s and '50s
isn't there any longer. I think that
empathic feeling came from Blacks
seeing in Jews a people who also
had been victimized by society. And
that Black view of Jews simply
doesn't exist anymore, and I think
what changed that was the Six-Day
War and the resurgence of Jewish
nationalism [which] came at that
time.
D: What happened in the 1967
War that changed [the Black view of
Jews]?

L: The stunning military bril-
liance of the victory - that Israel
won a war in six days against basi-
cally three enemy forces - and the
reclamation of the Old City in
Jerusalem. I'd say that had a very
transformative character and effect on
American Jewry and for the first
time - certainly, I think, since the
Holocaust - Jews saw themselves
not as victims but as victors. And so
it gave rise to whole new feelings of
Jewish pride... this is happening si-
multaneously as Black Power is
happening...
And it goes on from there. I think
that it is also at this time that Black
people began identifying with and
sympathizing with Palestinians and
seeing Palestinians as victims in the
Middle East, which I think is an
oversimplification of the situation in
the Middle East.

CLASSIFIED ADS! Call 764-0557
IFITINO STUDIES
An interdisciplinary degree, Latino Studies offers
an undergraduate major through fiue options: An-
thropology, Comparative Literature, History, Politi-
cal Science, Sociology. In addition, Latino Studies
is a optional track within the concentration in
American Culture.
R component of the Program in fmerican Culture, it
is designed to give all students at the University of
Michigan an opportunity to understand the experi-
ences, values, and traditions of Meuicans, Puerto
Ricans, Cubans, and other peoples of Spanish,
Indian, and Rfrican descent that comprise the
Hispanic-American population of the United States.
Latinos--or Hispanic-Americans--share a
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only lead to a deeper understanding
American society.
For more information see:
Professor Siluia Pedraza-Bailey
Director of Latino Studies
Program in American Culture
410 Mason Hall
764-9934

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D: How would you describe the
relations between Jews and Blacks
today?
L: I would say that you would
have to talk specifically. I would say
that among my generation of people
relations are still very good. I would
say among college-age Blacks and
Jews, relationships are non-exis-
tent... there certainly is an antago-
nism. That cannot be denied.
D: Do you believe that [Black
Moslem leader] Louis Farrakhan and
Jesse Jackson pose a threat to rela-
tions among Jews and Blacks?
L: Oh, sure. There's no question
about it.
D: What kind of a threat do they
pose? What have they done, or
would they do, or are they doing?
L: Certainly Farrakhan is easier
to talk about than Jackson [because
of] the kinds of things that
Farrakhan says about Jews, the kind
of hostility that he has expressed
toward Jews, expressed toward Israel.
Any Black person who either makes
excuses for those comments or
rationalizes those comments is
going to be very suspect to Jews. I
mean, how can a Jew trust a Black
person who won't speak out against
the kind of hatred that Farrakhan has
expressed towards Jews?
Jackson, I think, is much more
complex. I think Jackson has made
some real, sincere efforts since 1984
to reach out to the Jewish commu-
nity... And yet the Jewish commu-
nity still does not trust Jackson. And
so I think that Jackson finds himself
somewhat bewildered as to exactly
what he could do to gain the trust of
Jews. And there are a lot of Jews
that will never trust Jesse Jackson.
What Jackson fails to comprehend
is that Jews are a very tiny minor-
ity... and so that Jews feel very out-
numbered on all counts, and I don't
think Jackson has the appreciation of
that, understands what that feels like.
D: Why do many Jews mistrust
or dislike Jackson? Is it because of
his "Hymietown" crack in the 1984
campaign?
L: Oh, sure. That's where it all
began. There were many Jews who
were thrilled about the things that
Jackson was saying, because... he
was the first Black leader since Mar-
tin Luther King to reach out and say,
"We can have an integrated move-

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