Blacks in the Jewish Mind: A Crisis of Liberalism by Seth Forman

By Seth Forman

Since the Sixties the connection among Blacks and Jews has been a contentious one. whereas others have tried to give an explanation for or fix the break-up of the Jewish alliance on civil rights, Seth Forman right here units out to figure out what Jewish pondering with regards to Black american citizens unearths approximately Jewish id within the united states Why did American Jews get entangled in Black reasons within the first position? What did they must achieve from it? And what does that let us know approximately American Jews?

In a really provocative research, Forman argues that the dedication of yank Jews to liberalism, and their ancient definition of themselves as sufferers, has brought on them to act in ways in which have been outlined nearly as good for Blacks, yet which in essence have been opposite to Jewish pursuits. they've got no longer been in a position to dissociate their needs--religious, religious, communal, political--from these of African americans, and feature accordingly acted in methods that have threatened their very own cultural vitality.

Avoiding the point of interest on Black victimization and white racism that regularly infuses paintings on Blacks and Jews, Forman emphasizes the complexities inherent in a single precise white ethnic group's involvement in America's racial dilemma.

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6 9 I n thi s sense then , no t onl y di d Blac k American s ac t a s a "lightnin g ro d fo r prej udice"; Souther n fear s o f Blac k advanc e als o relieve d Souther n Jews o f th e 40 | BLACK S I N TH E J E W I S H MIN D animus cause d b y economi c competitio n wit h othe r whites , a n animu s many Norther n Jews fel t keenly . The postwa r libera l assumptio n tha t ethni c prejudic e i s unifie d an d al l of th e sam e kin d i s almos t certainl y mistaken . Scholar s hav e lon g pointe d out tha t th e prejudice s hel d b y bigots abou t differen t group s vary in sourc e and kin d an d hav e a grea t dea l t o d o wit h th e typ e an d intensit y o f dis crimination tha t i s mete d out .

64 I t ha s als o bee n pointe d ou t that eve n befor e th e Civi l War , an d especiall y afte r it , th e politica l climat e in th e Sout h wa s suc h tha t Jew s wer e abl e t o hol d a numbe r o f powerfu l elective an d appointiv e politica l offices. 66 The histori c lac k o f a consisten t an d systemati c anti-Semitis m i n th e South ca n b e attribute d t o tw o phenomena , on e bein g th e dominanc e o f Protestantism i n th e regio n an d th e South' s reverenc e fo r th e Ol d Testa ment.

11 Allegianc e t o th e libera l value s o f democracy , freedom , equality , The Liberal Jew, the Southern Jew, and Desegregation in the South, ig^-ig64 | 2 7 and respec t fo r individua l right s constitute d th e ne w "America n identity, " but th e precis e rol e o f ethni c loyaltie s i n America n lif e wa s lef t undefined . This ambiguit y exacerbate d wha t fo r America n Jews ha d bee n a decadeslong debat e ove r wha t woul d constitut e Jewis h identit y i n Americ a an d the prope r degre e o f assimilation.

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