The Jewish Philanthropist Who Brought Educational Opportunity to Thousands of Southern Blacks

Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), the son of German-Jewish immigrants, grew up in Springfield, Illinois, worked for many years in the garment trade, and in 1908 became president of Sears, Roebuck. He also invested much time and money in improving the lot of African-Americans. His story is the subject of a new documentary. Lisa Hostein writes:

The [funds] Rosenwald invested in African-American causes in the early 1900s changed the course of education for thousands of children in the rural South and helped foster the careers of prominent artists, including the writer Langston Hughes, the opera singer Marion Anderson, and the painter Jacob Lawrence. . . .

Rosenwald was heavily influenced by his rabbi, Emil Hirsch, the spiritual leader of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, and he became a major benefactor of Jewish causes [as well]. The film’s historians document the parallels Rosenwald drew at the time between the pogroms against European Jews and violent attacks on blacks in America. . . .

When Rosenwald gave a $25,000 gift to Tuskegee University, Booker T. Washington suggested taking a few thousand dollars to build six schools for young children. . . . Rather than donating all the money for the schools, Rosenwald gave one-third of the funds needed and challenged the local black community to raise another third and the local white community to contribute the rest. In the end, some 5,300 schools were built with seed money from the Rosenwald Fund.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: African Americans, American Jewry, Film, History & Ideas, Philanthropy

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf