News Analysis

The very timing of the story was enough to raise suspicions that it was all bogus. The small left-wing Jewish

The Forward is the sort of paper beloved by that sort of Jew who - in Dennis Prager's wonderful words - has replaced Judaism with liberalism as his religion.
weekly The Forward ran a story on September 2, 2008, widely cited and reprinted, that Michelle Obama, the wife of the Democrat contender for the presidency, has Jewish kin, even a rabbi, in her family.

Coincidence? Hardly. American Jews are a small part of the US electorate; yet, they are concentrated in key states like New York and Florida and tend to vote Democrat by significant majorities. The Obamas need their support to win, but American Jews have been alarmed by talk of Obama's Muslim ties and roots, and by things like his 24-hour flip-flop over whether he supports acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, a position he reversed hours after voicing. So what better way to boost support for Obama among Jews than to discover some Jewish kin? The Forward found one in Capers Funnye (pronounced fuh-NAY), the "chief rabbi" at the Beth Shalom Bnai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in southwest Chicago.

Jewish liberals have decided to go to bat for Obama and try to calm Jewish disquiet over Obama's questionable commitment to Israeli security. Sure, Obama has Biden on his team, who has a strong record of supporting Israel. But other than supporting Israel, Biden, who was chosen to offset Obama's weakness on foreign policy, has credentials on foreign policy consisting mostly of supporting the wrong things (like capitulation in Iraq).

The Obama Jewish liberals are now being led by The Forward, a left-leaning Jewish weekly that is published in New York (decades ago it was a Yiddish daily with socialist ties). It is a small paper, with circulation about 25,000 and a web site. It is editorially monochrome (ultra-liberal) and bashes Israel when this appeals to its editors' leftist sentiments. The Forward's Op-Ed columns are near uniformly liberal-leftist, featuring such commentators as arch-liberal Leonard Fein. It makes little effort to hide its delight at the Obama candidacy.

The Forward is the sort of paper beloved by that sort of Jew who - in Dennis Prager's wonderful words - has replaced Judaism with liberalism as his religion. It was more diverse and centrist back when it was run by Seth Lipsky, who also wrote for the Wall Street Journal, but Lipsky was forced out in 2000 and replaced by leftist J.J. Goldberg, himself recently replaced by Jane Eisner, a sycophant of Peter Jennings. Among her first projects at the paper was an attack on Sarah Palin for being on civil terms with anti-Semite Pat Buchanan. Other leftists are similarly trying to make the Jews alarmed at Sarah Palin, on grounds that the church she attends once hosted a nasty missionary from the "Jews for Jesus." This is all kind of amusing considering the sort of pastor with whom Obama has spent much of his adult life.

Under the title "Michelle Obama Has a Rabbi in Her Family," The Forwardran a piece celebrating the supposed Jewish connections of Michelle, and noted that her "rabbi" cousin "has often urged the larger Jewish community to be more accepting of Jews who are not White."

There is only one problem - and read my lipstick here - the "rabbi" discovered by The Forward as the Jewish kin to Michelle Obama is neither a rabbi nor, evidently, a Jew.

There is no reason why a Black person cannot be Jewish and, in fact, there are many tens of thousands of Black Jews. The largest Black Jewish population consists of the Jews from Ethiopia, nearly all of whom have now moved to Israel. There are small groups and congregations of bona fide Black Jews in the United States and elsewhere, usually descendants of converts, some descendants of folks who migrated in from the West Indies. Other individual blacks have converted to Judaism. Judaism, in spite of the endless hate propaganda by anti-Semites against it for being about a Jewish "race," has never been racial and there are Jews who are racially Chinese, Indian, Native American and so on. The ancient Israelites were a multiracial population even at the time they left Egypt. Admission to the Jewish "race" consists of nothing more than a commitment to conform to Jewish religious practices and undergoing a process of religious conversion.

But there is an important distinction between Black Jews and Black pseudo-Jews. The latter are non-Jews pretending to be Jews. In particular, there is a group calling itself the "Black Israelites," also calling themselves "Hebrew Ethiopians" and other names, who are Black non-Jews having invented a history they claim traces back

The "rabbi" discovered by The Forward as the Jewish kin to Michelle Obama is neither a rabbi nor a Jew.
to Biblical Israelites. The largest group of these live in Chicago, although some of their members moved to Israel in the 1970s and live as "Black Hebrew" non-Jews in Dimona and other places in southern Israel. They are not regarded by real rabbis or by the state of Israel as bona fide Jews, although no one would object if any of them decided to convert to Judaism. They are not ordained by bona fide rabbinic seminaries, but instead have their own "Black Hebrew" school, in which Hebrew and Jewish prayer can be among the subjects taught. Funnye's congregation is among those Black Israelite "synagogues" that appears to be closest to traditional Judaism.

While bona fide Black Jews move to Israel all the time under the country's Law of Return that grants automatic citizenship to any Jew wishing to live there, the "Black Israelites" do not qualify, although many were allowed to migrate to Israel anyway in the 1970s. At the time, the Israeli government was worried about the public relations fallout in the US if they were not admitted. Many Israelis disapproved, particularly since some of the leaders of the "Black Hebrew" group then went on world campaigns of defamation against Israel, and there was even a small movement in Israel in the 1980s to expel them. In 1981, a group of American civil rights leaders led by Bayard Rustin investigated their treatment by Israel and concluded that they were treated fairly and without discrimination.

Today the "Black Hebrews" of Dimona have a popular gospel choir, run restaurants, and made the news when Whitney Houston paid them a visit. In 2006, Eddie Butler, a Dimona Black Hebrew, was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Some of the "Black Hebrews" in the US practice Christianity or mix Christian ideas and practices with their other beliefs, and one of the earliest such groups (founded in 1896) called itself the Church of God and Saints of Christ. The black "Commandment Keepers" congregations appear to be closest to actual Judaism in their beliefs and practices, although its members are regarded as non-Jewish unless they formally convert. Some such "Black Israelite" groups are openly anti-White and Afrocentrist. The "rabbi" cousin of Michelle Obama from the Beth Shalom Bnei Zaken "synagogue" also has sat on the board of the "Black Holocaust Museum" in Milwaukee (which recently went bankrupt and closed).

The Dems are going on the war path to paint Sarah Palin, who keeps an Israeli flag around her office, as an anti-Semite, all to scare Jews into voting Obama. See this as a lurid example. The alternative they want the Jews to support is the protege of the Reverend Wright, endorsed by Louis Farrakhan and Hamas, ambivalent about Hizbullah, and whose policies would bring an Arab fascist terrorist restoration in Iraq.