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

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations