The American Black-Jewish alliance---a fiction laid to rest

The 50-year narrative of a ‘historic coalition’ between blacks and Jews only existed among leaders, and never among the people.

Robert Harris

OpEds Jewish supporters of Black Lives Matter movement in New York
Jewish supporters of Black Lives Matter movement in New York

The recent flare up of tensions caused by the anti-Semitic rantings of American black Moslem Louis Farrakhan, and the lack of condemnation, let alone outright support he received from Democrats and leftists, is hopefully a final footnote in the fictional 50 year alliance between American Jews and blacks.

Since the beginning of the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s there has been a dictatorial  narrative among Jews that promoted the “historic alliance” between American Jews and American blacks.

Embracing this narrative went far beyond political correctness, as it became a foundational underpinning among many in the American Jewish community for half a century.

This black-Jewish alliance, however, was only practiced at the level of the anemic Jewish and black leaderships, and not for one day did it exist among members of the Jewish and black communities.

At the organizational level, American Jews marched with blacks, voted for civil rights legislation, supported welfare and other give-away programs for blacks and, in return, blacks supported pro-Israel legislation in Congress.

Beyond that, this “natural” coalition was always a myth. And how could it have been otherwise?

Leftist Jews insisted that American Jews support black agendas, since we were brothers who lived together in the same communities. The truth, however, was that for all we had in common, Jews and blacks might as well have lived on different planets.

While Jewish leaders spun a tale of a shared legacy of having been slaves, the Jewish man-on-the-street knew that there was little else that Jews and blacks had in common.

For Jews, the most basic review of the state of black America explained how any discussion between these two peoples had always been impossible. Whether 1960 or today, we are simply too different.

How do we, the people of the book, find common ground among people who do not read? In 2017 the California Department of Education found that 75 percent of black boys failed to meet minimal reading and writing standards.

In demanding the creation of a black-Jewish coalition, did the arrogant leftist Jews think we were going to teach American blacks how to live better lives?
How do we, the people of the law, find common purpose with blacks, who so often see family members jailed? The US Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that one in four black men will go to prison during their lifetimes.

How do the Jews, whose foundation for thousands of years has been our strong families, find something to talk about with American blacks, whose families have disintegrated? Today, 77.3 percent of black births are to unwed mothers, according to The National Center for Health Statistics.

In demanding the creation of a black-Jewish coalition, did the arrogant leftist Jews think we were going to teach American blacks how to live better lives? 

And during past decades, to even raise such questions in the Jewish community guaranteed being loudly condemned as a racist. The price for questioning leftist dogma was severe.

In the 1960s and ‘70s American Jews played very visible roles in the civil rights movement. From Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously marching arm-in-arm with Dr. King to rabbis and Jewish leaders gathering to sing We Shall Overcome, the Jews supported American blacks.

Unfortunately, this Jewish support was never acknowledged or reciprocated by the black community, and was never translated into acts of friendship by black Americans.

Hopeful young American Jews in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s sought out blacks, but found few friends among blacks on university campuses or in college organizations, as always-angry black students singled out Jews as one of the many conspirators responsible for their eternal problems.

For decades, Jewish leaders groveled in front of accusing blacks---until finally disassociating themselves, after realizing how hopeless was the cause of lifting blacks out of their misery.

Most dramatically, American Jews broke ranks with American blacks when they demanded that quotas be put in place at universities, and then in the workplace, as a means of guaranteeing fictional black success.

Also during the 1960s, countless Jewish urban affairs councils were established to assist blacks.....nearly all of which withered away due to their repeated failures to help black communities. There was also an embarrassing recognition that American Jews were spending more money and efforts to help blacks than were blacks, themselves.

And, as a special thank you for all of their efforts, Jews were assaulted by the anti-Semitism of black leaders---from Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton to Barack Obama’s racist pastor Jeremiah Wright, and the black racist Farrakhan….whose ant-Jewish ravings have made him a star in the black community.

But worst of all, perhaps, was the day-to-day anti-Semitism shouted among blacks on the streets, in the schools, in the stores, in their churches and in business.

In New York Magazine’s February 4, 1985 edition it was reported: “In 1978, on his first visit as mayor to Harlem's Convent Avenue Baptist Church to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., Ed Koch heard a heckler shouting, "Don't let him speak. Send the Jew back to the synagogues."

“Koch was the only white present that day, and, by his account, none of the blacks, including one of his own deputy mayors, bothered to scream back.”

Today there remains a tiny minority in the American Jewish community who continue the charade of promoting the “historic coalition” between Jews and blacks. These Jewish advocates for blacks call themselves Jewish and are funded by Jews, but their organizations are rarely Jewish or support Jewish interests.

And, perhaps, the death knell of black-Jewish relations has been the result of too many Jewish families whose members have been victims of black violence, including murder. If you do not believe this, just ask.

In America, Jews successfully live side-by-side with so many minority communities, where they share the same values of hard work, family and education. But this was never the reality with blacks and Jews.

Regrettably, the half century of Jews promoting American blacks will prove to have been just one more failing, in the long line of failures among American Jewish leaders.

Yet it is also a measure of what eternal optimists Jews are, to have maintained this fiction of a Jewish-black coalition for over 50 years.

Seeking utopia in our times, Jews have embraced delusions such as communism and socialism. And we learned that the only way to justify the indefensible failures of these utopias was to constantly lie and scream down opponents.

In the same way, it has been only delusions that have held together the “historic coalition” among American Jews and blacks.