Black-Jewish relations and my perspective
More unused thoughts from my files:
My opinion on the Jews (since this is often a touchy situation and there is a lot of fear and suspicion in the relationships of the groups).
First and foremost, they’re PEOPLE; like anyone else. Growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome, I tended to have problems with all people, so “people” were naturally all the same to me. (Basically, problematic! But then that is how most saw me, which was precisely the problem!) I had just as many if not more problems with peers when the neighborhood turned from mostly Jewish to black in a matter of a few years.
I believe that all groups have what are known as “cultural sins“. So while I might recognize the group’s cultural sins, I do not hold them against them as some innate defect (making my group “better”), just like I hope (or wish) people would not hold the black community’s cultural sins as a defect of the whole race.
Where blacks are often tagged with reputations for crime, sloth and moral (i.e. sexual) looseness; for Jews, it is controlling, hoarding and being stingy with money. Also, as controlling education (which many Right-wingers see as “godless”), pop culture and the media. (Some will add, wrongly promoting blacks into prominence, as in those industries).
Such stereotypes in all people almost always have some truth to them. But I don’t see any group that is “better” and any other, or whose “sins” are not as bad. They just differ based on the experience and opportunities of the people.
The Jewish “money” stereotypes are also held —and greatly overhyped (and thrown up most commonly) by “Aryan” supremacist groups (“international Jewish bankers”, Illuminati connections, etc), in addition to the other areas of influence.
When I hear this stuff, I thoroughly reject it. While there may be Jews in some level of power in those areas, I don’t see them as a group pulling all the strings like that. There may be some individuals in positions of power, but just like the aftermath of the general black-white conflict, things seem to be drawn more on class than race now.
Aryan groups still appear to holding (and desiring) the most power in the world, and their “identity” groups are just projecting their own stuff onto their intended victims. (Just like they claim blacks are eroding society, gaining all their tax money, etc.)
My perspective on them:
•Fond memories of the neighborhood (Flatbush) in my early youth
•admire their cultural sense of humor
•Find many of them to be very friendly
•was taught to identify with them as a fellow persecuted minority
Issues the two groups have had:
Many Blacks do seem to retain a lot of grudges against them due to abuses and mistreatment in the past (particularly as our landlords, bosses and shopkeepers).
The way I look at this is through what I call the “hierarchy of whiteness”. They were ‘higher up’ than us, because of their white skin and often ability to “pass”, yet they were ultimately still on the lower end of it.
The hierarchy appears to go roughly as follows:
Rest of northern Europeans
Asians (particularly lighter ones)
Most of the rest of “colored” people
(Among anti-semites, the Jews might be below the next two groups, and perhaps tied with blacks for last).
So inasmuch as there has been some mistreatment there, I believe it is the “big fish-little fish” syndrome. People don’t like their position on the list when higher-ups put them down, but they often fall into taking advantage of their place above others on the list.
And blacks seem to be universally on the bottom of this list. Due originally to people’s apparent fear of the dark skin of the original people, a terrible misinterpretation of Genesis chapter 9 (that has gone largely unchallenged even by detractors), and then the portrayal of their culture and religion as backward, sensual and demonic by the dominant Western world.
I believe this also leads to a sort of unconscious jealousy towards Jews, especially when the two groups are further polarized by others at times (below).
So I believe it is a mistake for blacks to hold a special resentment towards Jews moreso than other groups that we have had issues with, as many have done.
Part of this is due to the fact that they were the ones we had the most immediate contact with, in the neighborhoods we have lived in. But you have to credit them for allowing us in in the first place, where other groups were much more hostile towards integration.
The other part is that many, in rebellion against a “Judeo-Christian” upbringing, turned to distorted forms of Islam as their platform, which naturally tended to lean towards antagonism towards Jews from interpretations of certain parts of the Koran, as well as ultimately stemming from the historic dispute between Ishmael and Isaac (in addition to these sectarian variants viewing the rest of the white race as “devils”. “Black Hebrew” groups follow suit).
•conflicts in the 90’s (Crown Heights, etc.)
What bothered me is how blacks back then seemed to automatically come off as the bad guys in general perception. Part of this was from the biblical/political doctrine built around Israel (below).
•While being very sensitive towards “antisemitism”, some people have in turn been rather insensitive towards blacks. (Offensive portrayals of blacks in old films, negative comments by some comedians or others etc. at times, which they would not tolerate when others do the same to them).
•Blacks had been chastized for use of term “holocaust” regarding their own struggles in the past.
Both groups have gone through a lot of oppression over the centuries. The difference is that for Jews, you had a large concentration of it in one event, and for blacks, it was spread out more.
It was horrible for both, so we should not minimize each other’s experience.
•Christians who put Jews on a pedestal from their interpretations of prophecy (and even some Jews are suspicious of this, and some are anti-Zionist based on scriptural objections).
•From here, you had people (especially political and/or religious conservatives) who took sides, and used black-Jewish relations to further put down blacks. For instance, one Christian tract goes as far as to say that African nations are suffering famine and war as a “curse” for breaking diplomatic ties with Israel.
•Another example is that they’re often included in the general conservative claim, that “our ancestors/(other ethic groups) started out as discriminated-against minorities, yet they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps instead of whining; yet blacks haven’t”. Hence, higher on the cultural “hierarchy” in practical terms. (This, often spouted by groups who become critical of Jews themselves in other areas, such as the cultural or economic conspiracy theories).
Because of both the above tension between the groups, plus concern about the overall low perception of blacks in general, plus just the natural tendency of all groups to be exclusive at times, I might feel uncomfortable and wonder how I am being received among given groups I may find myself among.
I identify with Christianity, which holds Jesus as the Messiah, while the religion of Judaism doesn’t. So that is an area of disagreement. Theological disagreement (which will be reflected in my Biblical/doctrinal writings). But not personal affront.
In Christian discussion, we often in passing mention the Jews’ rejection of Jesus in the narratives in a critical fashion. To Christians, this is a given, and the point is usually the significance of the events; not the sin of the Jews.
Frequently cited apostles like Peter and Paul were critical of the Jews they were dealing with, and this will be referenced in Christian readings of scriptures. But Peter, Paul and most other disciples, along with Jesus, were themselves Jews, and were voicing their disagreement with their countrymen, not disowning the race.
So I thoroughly repudiate supposed “Christians” who misuse this notion, such as citing Peter’s statement of the Jews being “stiffnecked and stubborn” (and these are often the same ones who claim to defend “Israel” against all of its enemies), or antisemitic groups’ charges of “Christ-killers”, etc.
I’ve seen at least one author (who is otherwise a Christian Zionist!) even cite Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be on us and our children”).
Such people do not understand the basic point of the death of Jesus, which is that all of man is equally sinful; which is the whole foundation of the Christian Gospel. They’re making the same exact mistake as those “stiffnecked” Israelites of Jesus’ time! Their “following” Jesus only leaves them with less excuse! They are the ones who should know better! Such mindset continues to be what Paul called “of the flesh and not of the Spirit”.
The Jews’ sin ‘stood out’ and was highlighted in the scriptural narratives, because they were the particular people God “chose”, to work with; to show us precisely that point, that man was sinful, even when given the Law. Hence, Paul’s statements of both judgment and salvation being “to the Jew first, then to the Gentile”.
This was never intended by Jesus or his disciples to become any basis for antisemitism, or assumption that because the Jews rejected Jesus, that gentiles (or at least certain groups of them) are now the new “chosen ones” (and thus superior). “All have sinned”.
The judgment for those people’s sin was in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Therefore, there is no justification for making any further violence against the Jews, such as the Holocaust, or a supposed future “Armageddon” where more millions of Jews are predicted to be killed, into a “divine judgment” against the people, as various Christian interpreters and antisemitic fringe groups have done.
I’ve also had to refine my position on the modern state of Israel. Growing up watching all the violence in the mideast on the news, I was always torn as who to side with. The Arabs seemed to have the most terror groups and bombers. Yet as I later learned, they were in the area first, and were basically pushed aside to re-establish the nation of Israel. This has become a hotbed even here in US political discussion.
I really cannot blame Jews, who were suffering for centuries in Europe, for wanting to return to their original land. I believe the Western nations behind the reestablishment are the ones who messed things up.
They (the Brits) are the ones who gained control over the mideast through defeat of the Muslims who had dominated the area for centuries. It was the West that then decided to carve up the land to reestablish the modern state of Israel.
Part of this may have been under the premise that they were fulfilling prophecy, based on “Dispensational” readings of scripture and the prospect of a “third temple” that would be destroyed by the “Antichrist” in a final showdown between God and evil. But others suspect the purpose was to maintain a presence of Western influence in the area, to remain near the oil. (This would explain why the US and Britain have come to be seen as wavering on their support of Israel more recently, for the sake of oil, as Christian zionists always complain. The oil was probably what it was all about all along!)
So the question over Israel is a difficult one.
My wish now is that the resentment and suspicion of each other would continue to dissipate, and the divisions would become irrelevant (except for being a diversity we could appreciate).