Blacks and Jews in America, 1960s-1980s

Civil rights and wrongs.

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Because Jews believed that they, along with blacks, were among the persecuted, it was difficult for them to comprehend the real nature of black‑Jewish relationships and the source of black anti‑Semitism. In 1967, for instance, left‑wing journalist I. F. Stone blamed it simply on "over­wrought blacks" and cautioned Jews not to exaggerate its extent.

In truth, Jews had ceased being an oppressed American minority, and their relations with blacks had never been marked by equality. Blacks had been the em­ployees, tenants, debtors, students, and welfare supplicants, while Jews had been the employers, landlords, creditors, teachers, and welfare bureaucrats. Jews had done things for blacks but rarely with blacks. Occasionally, as in Harold Cruse's anti‑Semitic volume The Crisis of the Black Intellectual (1967), blacks protested this servile relationship. For blacks, the most im­portant thing about Jews was that they were white, not that they had once exhibited paternalism toward blacks.

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Edward Shapiro is a Professor of History at Seton Hall University.