MacDonald Kevin - Jews, blacks, and race

Author : MacDonald Kevin
Title : Jews, blacks, and race
Year : 2006

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This essay provides an overview of the history of the Black-Jewish relationships in the 20th century. The record shows quite clearly that Jewish organizations as well as a great number of individual Jews contributed enormously to the success of the movement to increase the power of blacks and alter the racial hierarchy of the United States. I also discuss the more difficult question of how to understand Jewish motives in the black/Jewish alliance. It is important to realize that blacks and Jews are two very different groups. Beginning in the ancient world, Jewish populations have repeatedly attained a position of power and influence within Western societies. The Ashkenazi Jews that dominate the American Jewish community have the highest average intelligence of any human group and they have shown an extraordinary ability to create and participate in highly effective groups in pursuit of their interests. Despite rather widespread anti-Jewish attitudes (although quite mild by historical standards), and despite arriving typically as impoverished immigrants, Jews rapidly achieved social status, wealth, power, and influence in the United States far out of proportion to their numbers. Jewish power was already visible during the public debate on whether to enter World War II on the side of England and even during the immigration debates of the 1920s (although they were not on the winning side). But it increased dramatically after World War II, and since the 1960s, Jewish Americans have become an elite group with a great deal of influence on public policy. Although there are important divisions within the American Jewish community, there has been wide consensus on a number of critical public policy issues, particularly in the areas of support for Israel and the welfare of other foreign Jewries, immigration and refugee policy, church-state separation, abortion rights, and civil liberties.3 As discussed below, there was a broad Jewish consensus of sympathy and support for movements that empowered African Americans, at least until the 1970s when Jewish neoconservatives—a small minority within the Jewish community—began to dissent from some of the more radical forms of legislating the advancement of blacks, such as limiting welfare and curtailing some of the more extreme forms of affirmative action and group rights for blacks. However, in common with the mainstream organized American Jewish community, the neoconservatives supported the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. ...

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