Blacks in the Jewish Mind
A Crisis of Liberalism
Publication Year: 2000
Since the 1960s the relationship between Blacks and Jews has been a contentious one. While others have attempted to explain or repair the break-up of the Jewish alliance on civil rights, Seth Forman here sets out to determine what Jewish thinking on the subject of Black Americans reveals about Jewish identity in the U.S. Why did American Jews get involved in Black causes in the first place? What did they have to gain from it? And what does that tell us about American Jews?
In an extremely provocative analysis, Forman argues that the commitment of American Jews to liberalism, and their historic definition of themselves as victims, has caused them to behave in ways that were defined as good for Blacks, but which in essence were contrary to Jewish interests. They have not been able to dissociate their needs--religious, spiritual, communal, political--from those of African Americans, and have therefore acted in ways which have threatened their own cultural vitality.
Avoiding the focus on Black victimization and white racism that often infuses work on Blacks and Jews, Forman emphasizes the complexities inherent in one distinct white ethnic group's involvement in America's racial dilemma.
Published by: NYU Press
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Most scholarly research is performed in relative isolation, but the development of a manuscript inevitably draws into its orbit a number of individuals without whose assistance its completion would not be possible. First, there are all those people w h o have offered the moral and spiritual support without which the author would long ago have abandoned the project. In this respect I owe a tremendous debt to my wife, Danielle, ...
Introduction: Race Relations and the Invisible Jew
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Since the early 1970s, the relationship between Blacks and Jews has been the subject of a substantial amount of scholarly attention, not least because of the conflicts between the two groups that came to the surface in the 1960s. During this period, long-standing differences over such issues as community control of school districts, racial preferences, the role of Israel ...
1. The Liberal Jew, the Southern Jew, and Desegregation in the South, 1945–1964
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Of all the changes in American life that resulted from World War II, perhaps none was as profound as the reformulation of American ideology in the sphere of intergroup relations. The victory over the axis powers and European fascism compelled the United States to rectify the disparity between the reality of its group life and the ideals of equality and ...
2. Jews and Racial Integration in the North, 1945–1966
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From the time that the Supreme Court declared race segregation in public schools unconstitutional on May 17, 1954, until around i960, the story of racial segregation and the battle to end it was primarily a story of the South and the border region, where segregation was enforced as a matter of law. But by i960 the number of Black Americans living in ...
3. The New York Intellectuals and Their "Negro Problem," 1945–1966
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Comparisons of contemporary Black intellectuals with the famed " New York Intellectuals" of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s provide a convenient backdrop for the discussion of the approach to art, politics, and race of that mostly Jewish group of intellectuals Norman Podhoretz once referred to as the "family." 1 The N e w York Intellectuals constituted a ...
4. The Unbearable "Whiteness" of Being Jewish: The Jewish Approach toward Black Power, 1967–1972
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For many American Jews, the late 1960s signaled the end of one era and the beginning of another. On the one hand, the passage of the two most comprehensive civil rights laws by the federal government in 1964 and 1965 represented the high-water mark of the postwar liberal coalition within which American Jews had figured so prominently. On the ..
5. The Jew as Middleman: Jewish Opposition to Black Power, 1967–1972
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There were, of course, American Jews w h o did not share with liberal and leftist Jews the penchant for sustaining a commitment to or a relationship with Black Americans. For the most part, those Jews w h o advocated a more conservative stance toward the Black revolution tended to be more religiously observant. By the late 1960s, events had made it so ...
Conclusion: Blacks and Jews in American Popular Culture
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Arguing that it is in some ways more difficult to be a Jew in the United States than it is to be Black, as this book does, is in no way an attempt to minimize the very real impact of three hundred years of racial degradation or the continuing burden of contemporary racism. Nor is it to say that what American Jews as individuals, and sometimes as a group, ...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2000