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Download Blacks and Jews: Alliances and Arguments epub

by Paul Berman,James Baldwin,Cynthia Ozick,Cornel West

Essays written from the sixties to the present by such leaders of the Jewish and African-American communities as Cynthia Ozick, Shelby Steele, and Cornell West trace the complex, sometimes troubled relationship of American Jews and Blacks
Download Blacks and Jews: Alliances and Arguments epub
ISBN: 0385314736
ISBN13: 978-0385314732
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Author: Paul Berman,James Baldwin,Cynthia Ozick,Cornel West
Language: English
Publisher: Delta (September 1, 1995)
Pages: 320 pages
ePUB size: 1198 kb
FB2 size: 1102 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 831
Other Formats: azw lit txt rtf

Tremendous, essential book on American culture.
Still In Mind
This collection of twenty essays (I count the introduction as an essay) seems, at first glance, to be about the relations between African-Americans and Jewish-Americans. And certainly there is a lot to write about: the relations of African-Americans when both groups lived in the inner cities; the Civil Rights movements in which so many of the Whites were also Jewish, and the quarrels since then that somehow led to a three-day pogrom (Goldstein) or lynching (Ozick) in the summer of 1991. But however you call it, that summer, the streets of New York were filled with rioting African-Americans shouting "Kill the Jew".

So in a very gut-wrenching sense (many of these essays were written in the wake of and in response to the Crown Heights Riot) these essays certainly deal with Black-Jewish relations. But they are, in the end, about a lot more than that.

Take a closer look and you find that they ask us what kind of society we want to live in. Do we want social goods to be distributed to individuals, based solely on merit? (And what of the bone-crushing poverty in the inner cities and the increasing nihilism in black America?) Do we want social goods to be distributed on the basis of a story of group suffering and oppression? (Who tells this story? And, does the group lose the right to "its" social goods when it is perceived--by some other suffering group--to be no longer suffering?) Is there some other way to structure our society?

This book looks too at how a movement against racism came to embrace Third Worldism--how America's oppressed came to seek a coalition of "the wretched of the earth" in the name of cultural authenticity and ethnocentricity. And it discusses too the real, practical consequences of these politics: "the Kennedy-Johnson school liberals were for the most part forced off the political stage" and, as a result, increasing inner city poverty came to be met with increasing indifference.

In short, this (in my opinion) is a collection of essays that is perhaps even more relevant today than when these essays were compiled. I strongly recommend this book.
Paul Berman is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, a professor of journalism at New York University, a member of the editorial board of the intellectual magazine Dissent, and the author of books such as A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968,Terror and Liberalism, and The Flight of the Intellectuals.

He writes in the Preface to this 1994 book, "The alliance between blacks and liberal Jews reached its high point in the 1960s, and it was in the sixties, too, that tensions between the groups gave rise to a sustained discussion. An intricate conversation---alternately pleasant, firm, angry, and venomous---cropped up among jewish and black writers, not to mention among writers who were neither Jewish nor black and writers who were both. And after thirty years of back and forth, the pleasant, the firm, the angry, and the venomous can finally be declared to be, in its noisy way, a literature. The pages that follow offer a sampling from that literature: some immortal essays, some newspaper polemics of the passing moment, some scholarly studies, much disagreement and some agreement. Some of the pieces were written expressly for the book, and others have appeared elsewhere."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"During slavery times---when Jews accounted for half of one percent, or even less, of the American population---a small number of Jews participated in the slave trade, along with vastly larger numbers of Christians and Muslims; and a small number of other Jews participated in the abolitionist movement; and the Jews failed to distinguish themselves either as slavers or as antislavers." (Pg. 9)
(James Baldwin) "It is not the Jew who controls the American drama. It is the Christian." (Pg. 33)
(Norman Podhoretz) "I believe that the wholesale merging of the two races is the most desirable alternative for everyone concerned.... What I am saying, however, is that in my opinion the Negro problem can be solved in this country in no other way." (Pg. 91)
(Norman Podhoretz) "Gone on the whole are the interracial political alliances that were very widespread thirty years ago. In their place we have the nearly impassable gulfs of suspicion and hostility that are epitomized by the typical college dining hall of today where black students insist on sitting at tables of their own and whites either are happy to accept this segregated arrangement or feel hurt at being repulsed." (Pg. 95)
(Andrew Hacker) "To (Harold) Cruse and many others, this attempt to establish a parity insults the ordeals black Americans have undergone since they were first put on slave ships. The only Jews who can make such a claim are those who were consigned to the Nazi death camps." (Pg. 161)
(Julius Lester) "Unfortunately, too often Jews unwittingly enhance the status of such black anti-Semites. One could almost say that if you are black and want to be considered a leader in certain parts of black America today, say something anti-Semitic and get attacked by Jews. It is time to stop assisting black anti-Semites in their thirst for attention." (Pg. 174)