An Early Analysis of Black Anti-Semitism

While the synagogue shootings of Pittsburgh and Poway were carried out by anti-Semites of the white-supremacist variety, the shooting at the kosher grocery store in Jersey City, and Saturday night’s stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, NY, were the work of African Americans. These incidents come alongside the frequent, but less deadly, verbal and physical assaults on Jews in New York City and some of its suburbs that almost always involve young blacks targeting visibly Orthodox Jews.

Over 70 years ago, the celebrated essayist and novelist James Baldwin addressed what he termed “the Negro’s ambivalent relation to the Jew” in his essay “The Harlem Ghetto: Winter 1948,” published in Commentary. He was writing at a time when Jim Crow was alive and well in the South, blacks were unwelcome in many areas of New York City, Jewish activists in the area of civil rights were not yet as numerous as they would become, and the state of Israel did not exist:

To begin with, though the traditional Christian accusation that the Jews killed Christ is neither questioned nor doubted, the term “Jew” actually operates in [a religious] context to include all infidels of white skin who have failed to accept the Savior. No real distinction is made: the preacher begins by accusing the Jews of having refused the light and proceeds from there to a catalog of their subsequent sins and the sufferings visited on them by a wrathful God. Though the notion of the suffering is based on the image of the wandering, exiled Jew, the context changes imperceptibly to become a fairly obvious reminder of the trials of the Negro, while the sins recounted are the sins of the American republic.

At this point, the Negro identifies himself almost wholly with the Jew. The more devout Negro considers that he is a Jew, in bondage to a hard taskmaster and waiting for a Moses to lead him out of Egypt. The hymns, the texts, and the most favored legends of the devout Negro are all Old Testament and therefore Jewish in origin. . . . The favorite text of my father, among the most earnest of ministers, was not “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” but “How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

[But] I remember meeting no Negro in the years of my growing up, in my family or out of it, who would really ever trust a Jew, and few who did not, indeed, exhibit for them the blackest contempt. On the other hand, this did not prevent their working for Jews, being utterly civil and pleasant to them, and, in most cases, contriving to delude their employers into believing that, far from harboring any dislike for Jews, they would rather work for a Jew than for anyone else.

The tension between Negroes and Jews contains an element not characteristic of Negro-Gentile tension, an element which accounts in some measure for the Negro’s tendency to castigate the Jew verbally more often than the Gentile, and which might lead one to the conclusion that, of all white people on the face of the earth, it is the Jew whom the Negro hates most. When the Negro hates the Jew as a Jew he does so partly because the nation does and in much the same painful fashion that he hates himself. It is an aspect of his humiliation whittled down to a manageable size and then transferred.

Read more at Commentary

More about: African Americans, Anti-Semitism, James Baldwin, Racism


Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority