Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rev. Lee and the true meaning of Passover

In the discussion over what Rev. Lee did and didn't say, David Sackman contributed a lengthy commentary so insightful that it deserves its own post. Here's the top of his thoughts.
I am disturbed, not by the content, but by the direction, of the entire discussion regarding the relationship between Blacks and Jews, and particularly by the discussion about comments supposedly made at a recent awards ceremony here in Los Angeles.

I am Jewish, of European ancestry; my wife is Black, with Chinese and Native American ancestry included. What shall we tell our son this Passover, when we re-tell the tale of how his Jewish ancestors were freed from slavery in Africa?

Shall we trade accusations against each other, like those reported in “Allegations in e-mail split Jews and Blacks” in the April 12 LA Times? The statement reputed to have been made there, that some Jews in the entertainment industry exploited and profited from Black performers, is probably true. It is also true that Jewish union leaders, lawyers and agents in the entertainment industry have fought for better wages and working conditions for Blacks and others in the industry. Many Jews played crucial roles in the struggle for civil rights, and undoubtably there were some on the other side as well. We can go back farther to trade accusations. Were there Jews who owned slaves and were involved in the slave trade? Probably so; and yet there were also Jews fighting for abolition. Does it matter whether those on one side outnumbered those on the other?

To be honest, I must tell my son that his African ancestors were on both sides as well. How else did Africans become African-Americans? Did a few Europeans (perhaps including some Jews) march into Africa and march out with tens of millions of slaves? Actually, it was their African “brothers” who sent them into slavery. Whether it was for small reasons like personal squabbles, or large reasons like tribal warfare, it was primarily Africans who sent other Africans into slavery, just as Joseph was sold into slavery in Africa, by his own brothers!
So is the point of the Passover story that the Hebrews were the “good guys” being held in slavery by “evil” Africans? NO! Emphatically NO! And neither should the point of the current discussion be to lay blame on anyone.
The rest can be read here.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree partially with David Sackman. While he is right that there is no absolute right or wrong on any side, he should be careful that that viewpoint not degenerate into a platitudinous apology for anti-Semitism:

1. Connection of Jews with slavery is vicious anti-Semitism and should be denounced.
a. The antebellum US Jewish population was miniscule and irrelevant.
b. The antebellum European Jewish population was largely poor and irrelevant. (The mass of Jewish lumpenproletariat were poor Jews in Poland and the Pale, not well-off, assimilated western Eruopean Jews.)
c. The few slavery-related exceptions (such as Judah Benjamin) are not representative of the Jewish experience. To insist them so, and thus blame Jews for individuals, is as racist as it would be to blame blacks for Willie Horton or OJ Simpson.
d. In even closer analogy, there were a half-dozen rich black freemen who grew wealthy trading slaves. To portray them as typical of the black experience under slavery would of course be absurd - but is the equivalent of falsely portraying as typical any Jewish involvement in slavery. If the one argument makes Jews responsible for slavery, does the equivalent argument make blacks responsible for slavery? Both arguments are not only absurd but immoral.

2. Jews in the entertainment industry generally were far more willing than Gentiles to give African-American artists a chance. To call this "exploitation" is anti-Semitism. To blame "the Jews" for individuals is anti-Semitism.

3. Connection of Jews with pro-black movements needs repeating - Slovo as an ANC co-founder, Suzman, Gordimer in ZA; MLK's Jewish supporters in the USA, etc.

4. Far from blame, the Jews deserve to be praised as a smaller minority (5.5m US Jews) risking its precarious position to help a larger minority (30m African-Americans).

5. Part of the blame has to do with familiarity. Jews were far more willing to show flexibility and sympathy and accommodation in dealing with blacks, than other white groups. The familiarity broguht undeserved contempt. It should have brought friendship and appreciation and perhaps political support for Jewish concerns.

6. Part of the blame has to do with jealousy, perhaps the same jealousy (some, not all) blacks have shown towards Asians and Latins who have succeeded despite discrimination.

7. Last but not least, citing Jews (as a community or individuals) as in any way powerful is absurd. Jews have never been powerful. They contribute to humanity, very visibly. Contributing visibly is NOT the same as power, as the German Jewish experience showed so horribly. In the end, even very visible and assimilated German Jews couldn't prevent their own murder. In the end, even very visible and assimilated American Jews couldn't prevent or stop an anti-Semitic pogrom by blacks in Crown Heights.

Generally, in the USA, conservative Christian blacks have been more pro-Jewish than leftist, secular, or Islamic blacks. It is disappointing to see that Obama's wealthy congregation are Christian but of questionable attitudes towards Jews.

Dinkins was a good man and not likely anti-Semitic, but his fear of alienating his supporting crowd made his ultimate decisions - failure to stop the Crown Heights pogrom - anti-Semitic. I think it likely the same situation will obtain for Obama.

Obama has already made negative comments about the Likud, comparing it to Palestinian extremists. I support Kadima but think it outrageous to compare the Likud to extremists-terrorists, and also outrageous even before nomination or office for Obama to interfere in Israeli democracy by denouncing a major Israeli party which might well form the next government.

The Obama conundrum, the driving of Lieberman from the Democratic Party, the Democratic blogs' rejoicing at Lantos' death - the writing has long been on the wall. For their own sakes, for the sake of Jewish survivial, for the sake of Israeli survival, Jews should vote Republican even if it requires holding one's nose at Republican social and economic policies.

Shoded Yam said...

It is a fact that American Jews regularly voice opinions re. Israeli politics, 99.5% of them non-Israeli citizens. The more wealthy and influential amongst our tribe "interfere" in the Israeli electoral process, and do so quite regularly and as a matter of course. BTW, prior to 77' and the Likud's take over, this phenomena was rather less common than it is today. Having said that, the result has been detrimental for the average working Israeli citizen, who now has to sublimate his needs to satisfy the needs and to fufill the revenge fantasies of right wing American Jews,who indirectly hold the purse strings to congress (and Israels defence)through AIPAC, while simultaneously financing political groups committed to the usurping of political authority by the duly elected, secular gov't of Israel.

Re. Jews and the slave trade, wikipedia refers to a gentleman named Saul S. Friedman who reviewed a book named; "Jews, Slaves and the Slave trade" by Eli Faber, who has this to say;

"Eli Faber takes a quantitative approach to Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade in Britain's Atlantic empire, starting with the arrival of Sephardic Jews in the London resettlement of the 1650s, calculating their participation in the trading companies of the late seventeenth century, and then using a solid range of standard quantitative sources (Naval Office shipping lists, censuses, tax records, and so on) to assess the prominence in slaving and slave owning of merchants and planters identifiable as Jewish in Barbados, Jamaica, New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Charleston, and all other smaller English colonial ports. He follows this strategy in the Caribbean through the 1820s; his North American coverage effectively terminates in 1775. Faber acknowledges the few merchants of Jewish background locally prominent in slaving during the second half of the eighteenth century but otherwise confirms the small-to-minuscule size of colonial Jewish communities of any sort and shows them engaged in slaving and slave holding only to degrees indistinguishable from those of their English competitors.[19]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_slave_trade

Though their numbers were miniscule, it is apparent that Jewish Slave traders did on thye whole manage to compete quite well with their "English competitors" despite their comparitively small numbers. In any event, Jews were involved in the slave trade. So as we can see, it would not be ani-semitic to say so. It would simply be a statement of fact, that certain people aren't comfortable with. Get over it, Mr. New York. Oh and to compare the resources of half a dozen, black freedmen who MIGHT HAVE engaged in the slave trade with the resources and dare I say, the social standing, of the Jews who were invovled is specious and disingenous, no to mention gutless. Try again, sparky.

Re;
"...7. Last but not least, citing Jews (as a community or individuals) as in any way powerful is absurd. Jews have never been powerful. They contribute to humanity, very visibly. Contributing visibly is NOT the same as power, as the German Jewish experience showed so horribly. In the end, even very visible and assimilated German Jews couldn't prevent their own murder."

Yeah, sure. Thats why everybody, Obama included has been bending ass over backwards to prove what stalwart friends they are to us yids. Contributing visibly in large amounts IS POWER. With campaign commercials costing 1.5 million a minute, this is not suprising. What is a suprise that there are still those who pathetically still embrace this shtetl jew mentality of hiding or denying our financial and political power(as if. LOL)so as not to alienate our gentile hosts. Where do they find these fossils?

Re;
"...I support Kadima but think it outrageous to compare the Likud to extremists-terrorists, and also outrageous even before nomination or office for Obama to interfere in Israeli democracy by denouncing a major Israeli party which might well form the next government. Is he trying to alienate foreign (Israeli) leaders even before taking office?"

Nothing could contradict your statement about the myth of Jewish power better than this. Ony a member of a community which is confident in its self-percieved power and position would spout such bombastic drivel. In any case, the way things are going, If I were you Mr. Kadima, I would be more concerned whether or not Israel and its current leadership has alienated Mr. Obama, instead of the other way around. The last time the Likud decided to endanger the "special relationship" with the U.S., Shamir and the Likud got thrown out on their ass, by an outraged electorate. Lets see what happens when they promise the next admionistartation, they're going to stop building settlements and don't. Lets see what happens when a dissed US congress decides to cut back U.S. economic aid to Israel because of "domestic economic pressures". Your fears are peeking out from beneath your boxers, sparky

Anonymous said...

The anti-Semite shoded yam is back.

His first paragraph proceeds immediately to a contradiction. Self-hating, twisted souls like yoded usually claim Israel controls the US government via AIPAC - but then he contradicts himself to say AIPAC controls the Israeli government. Which is it?

Shoded's next few paragraphs attempt to infer non-history from third-hand information - Friedman interpreting Faber interpreting centuries-old records. One example of the uncertainty: How can Farber have known who was Jewish? Nevertheless, Shoded's reference shows little more than that there is little proof of Jewis involvement in slavery in the Carib and USA pre-1820 disproportionate to tiny numbers. Shoded then proceeds to:
1. ignore the obvious point, which I have already made, that the mass of Jews remained in eastern Europe and so the miniscule numbers in Carib and USA pre-1820 are irrelevant.
2. conclude anyway that "Jewish Slave traders did on thye whole manage to compete quite well"

Once again, I think the blog should remove such blatantly twisted anti-Semitism from the blog.

Shoded goes on to state, "In any event, Jews were involved in the slave trade." Yes, a tiny number were. A tiny number of Jews also sh-t on their bathroom floor. An obsession with Jewish malfeasance when miniscule in relation to the Gentile malfeasance in the same domain, is indeed anti-Semitism - much like the neo-Nazi bulletin boards which joyfully post every rabbi found to have stolen. YODED IS AN ANTI-SEMITE.

"Thats why everybody, Obama included has been bending ass over backwards to prove what stalwart friends they are to us yids."

More anti-Semitic tripe. Obama has been doing nothing more than saying nice words to a constituency to get its vote. That's all. Just as Billary makes nice noises to African-Americans. Does that indicate African-Americans fiendishly powerful? Shoded is not only an anti-Semite, but an unthinking one.

"What is a suprise that there are still those who pathetically still embrace this shtetl jew mentality of hiding or denying our financial and political power"

More anti-Semitic tripe direct from the Protocols. Jewish "political power" hasn't stopped the Democratic blogosphere from propagating vicious anti-Semitism, and Jewish "financial power" has never been shown much more than proportional. Shoded has degenerated into Protocols-type nonsense. He is a sick man.

"Nothing could contradict your statement about the myth of Jewish power better than this. Ony a member of a community which is confident in its self-percieved power and position would spout such bombastic drivel."

I AM NOT JEWISH AND THUS YOUR STATEMENT IS PURE ANTI-SEMITIC DRIVEL. I CALL FOR IT TO BE REMOVED FROM THE BLOG. The fact that I individually may be a philo-Semite and argue for them, shows nothing about Jewish power either way. Every human group has a friend here and there, even African-Americans and Roma ("gypsies"). Do you claim Roma all-powerful, too?

"I would be more concerned whether or not Israel and its current leadership has alienated Mr. Obama, instead of the other way around."

Wrong.
(1) Obama won't win. (a) Too young. (b) Electorate dis-enchanted with Democratic break-up. (c) Obama too tainted by Wright, Lee, his wife's statements.

(2) Congress has far more control than President, and Congress will always remain staunchly pro-Israeli, in response to the solid 55%-75% of the US electorate which is pro-Israeli.

"The last time the Likud decided to endanger the "special relationship" with the U.S., Shamir and the Likud got thrown out on their ass, by an outraged electorate."

You're even ignorant of Israeli politics. Shamir lost because of domestic politics, not because of US relationship. On the contrary, Sharo and Bush got along famously. Further, the US polls all show McCain likely to win, and he, like Bush, tends right. His statements thus far, and even his brother's famous pro-Jewish essay, mean he will tend to the right of Kadimah.

"Lets see what happens when a dissed US congress decides to cut back U.S. economic aid to Israel because of "domestic economic pressures"."

More ignorance from the anti-Semitic yoded.
(1) Israel receives no economic aid.
(2) Were you referring to military aid, 80% of that must be spent in the USA and thus feeds the US economy, so Congress is unlikely to cut that back in the USA's own interests.
(3) Even that aid still amounts to ~ 2% of an Israeli GDP growing at 4% per annum, so Israel could well afford to lose that aid.
(4) When has Israel "dissed" the US Congress? Over AWACS, decades ago?

You ought to see a psychiatrist - and stop posting self-hating, anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli lies on Jewish blogs. Is your real name Gilad Atzmon?

Shoded Yam said...

Excuse me miss, you dropped your snood. Haven't you and I danced this dance before? If I remeber correctly honeybuns,you have a certain fondness for anonymity(as well as your usual transliterated hebrew nonm de guerre) so please cease the charade of your non judaic heritage, sweetie. Screaming it to the heavens isn't going to lend it credibility, so give the cap locks a rest.

Remember that episode of "Seinfeld" where Uncle Leo sees anti-semites under his bed? You know the one where Leo claims the restaurant is anti-semitic, after which Jerry quips; "Yeah, Goebbels is in the kitchen cooking your soup". Well, thats not you. It would be funny if it was. Than we could all sit around and laugh at the insecure, neurotic, but lovable New York yid. Well, take it from me, theres nothing lovable about you.LOL

Lets start from the horses ass and work are way up to whats passing for grey matter, shall we?

Re. the question of eceonomic aid.

"...In February 2003, for the first time, Congress voted to cut aid to Israel against the wishes of the pro-Israel lobby and the government of Israel. The 0.65 percent deduction was not aimed at Israel; however, it was an across the board cut of all foreign aid programs for fiscal year 2003. The lobby and government also suffered a defeat when Congress deleted an administration request for an extra $200 million to help Israel fight terrorism. Even while cutting aid to Israel (which still was budgeted at $2.1 billion for military aid and $600 million for economic assistance), Congress included a number of provisions in the aid bill viewed as favorable to Israel, including a provision that bars federal assistance to a future Palestinian state until the current Palestinian leadership is replaced, and that state demonstrates a commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel, and takes measures to combat terrorism."

"...Altogether, since 1949, Israel has received nearly than $100 billion in assistance. This includes the three special allocations, the $10 billion in loan guarantees (spread over five years) approved in 1992, and a variety of other smaller assistance-related accounts, such as refugee resettlement (nearly $1.5 billion overall) and cooperative development programs (a total of $186 million since 1981)."

"Though the totals are impressive, the value of assistance to Israel has been eroded by inflation. While aid levels remained constant in total dollars from 1987 until 1999, the real value steadily declined. On the other side of the coin, Israel does receive aid on more favorable terms than other nations. For example, all economic aid is given directly to the Israeli government rather than allocated under a specific program. Also, starting in 1982, Israel began to receive all its economic aid in a lump sum early in the fiscal year instead of in quarterly installments as is done for other countries. Israel is not required to provide an accounting of how the funds are used. Israel also receives offsets on FMS purchases (U.S. contractors agree to offset some of the cost of military equipment by buying components or materials from Israel)."

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
/jsource/US-Israel/foreign_aid.html

And we DON'T have an inordinate amount of political and financial power, diproprtionate to our numbers, that we don't weild like a giant cudgel in congress and in the halls of gov't to get a sweet deal like that?!?! I know its difficult what with living your little cloistered, monastic, mideval existence, but you should never make the assumption that the the rest of us are the like erstwhile ignorant peasants of Chelm, who usually lap up your slop. To quote "New Jack City"(sorry grandma, a little after your time); "Money talks and Bullshit walks the marathon". That should be our motto. I, like most Israelis, see nothing to be ashamed of here. But then again,most of us weren't raised in the shtetl of NYC. BTW, the democrats, including(especially the Clintons)regurlarly court the African American community. Thats where the boots on the ground are. When they want money and media time, they come to us. I believe it was Lyndon Johnson who said in regards to the Black community, upon the signing of the 1964 civil rights act; "I'll have em' voting for us for the next 100 years"

I particularly like this part;

"...Israel is not required to provide an accounting of how the funds are used."

I wonder how many Israeli tax shekels that $600 million frees up, in order to be spent on settlements and all their attendant infrastructure requirements?

I will not try Mr. Greenbergs patience or goodwill by posting anymore of the article. Those who wish may follow the link, read it themselves, and come to the understanding that you are nothing but an amateur propagandist, who is busy employing his talents in smearing anyone who dares critzize Jews with the lame and increasingly ineffectual canard of "anti-semite" It also suggests the sort of hysteria and abject fear that one associates with a cornered rodent. In any event, I think it would be more accurate to say that I'm "a vicsous anti-haredi bastard". Or perhaps even; "an anti-settler prick". Yes, its not a secret that I'm not fond of frumiot. I should of told you earlier darling. It wasn't right of me to lead you on so. It's just that I found your bum to be terribly exciting, LOL. As for the rest of it, take a midol and relax.

the creator said...

I must admit I don't read every comment posted on this blog. But this discussion warrants two observations:

First, my favorite part of the "Seinfeld" episode referenced is when Leo says, "But she's an anti-Semite." Jerry, who has just reeled off the litany of things that make his uncle revolting, lifts up his palms and says, "Can you blame her?"

More importantly, while I am glad to see a healthy exchange of opinions here, I must ask that discussions remain civil and that they refrain from offensive language. I have no interest in mitigating conversation but ask that you self-moderate.