Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rev. Lee 'unequivocally' denounces anti-Semitism

The Rev. Eric Lee, the local head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has been trying to smooth the waters since Jewish philanthropist Daphna Ziman accused him of saying blacks and Jews would never come together because "The Jews have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us."

Yesterday Lee issued an official statement denying Ziman's account. And today he sent her an apology, which just arrived in my inbox and I have pasted below in its entirety.
It is with deep regret and my sincerest apologies that any comments I have made have caused you pain and distress. It was never my intent to insult you or the Jewish community, with whom I have a respected and long standing relationship. It is my hope that any misunderstandings may be clarified such that both our communities may move forward with mutual respect and a commitment to our shared struggles against any form of injustice.

As a Christian, and as an African American, we have long embraced the history of Israel’s plight of slavery, oppression, deliverance and freedom as symbolic of African American’s plight against slavery, oppression, deliverance and freedom. Our communities are joined together in this struggle.

I unequivocally denounce any anti-Semitic sentiments, statements and behavior and assure you that such hatred is not reflective of my character and my work. Specifically, I do not believe, and the SCLC does not subscribe to the belief, that Jews control the entertainment industries or are responsible for negative characterizations of African Americans. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My commitment is to ensuring justice is promoted for all of G-d’s people.

I am reminded of a part of a Seder ceremony in which the children of Israel are fleeing Pharaoh’s army and celebrate the drowning of their pursuers in the Red Sea. G-d’s response was disappointment because all are His children. I wholeheartedly believe that we are all G-d’s children and in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “we must learn to live together as brothers, or we perish together as fools”.


David Appletree said...

Why are Jews so surprise when people merely show their true colors?

Most younger Jewish adults all from all over the world understand the extent of the situation---just by surfing online on facebook and youtube, for example---where antisemitism, anti-Israel and pro-terrorist reign supreme.

David Appletree said...

(sorry for the typos, i typed that quickly)

Anonymous said...

Dear Daphna,

Shalom to you from Israel.

Realize, Jews of color (Ashkenazim Darkies and Sephardim) are not recognized
mainstream Judaism. We are today mislabled 'African-Americans'. And
Mainstream Judaism (fair-skinned) are powerful/accepted in the U.S. because
they look 'White'. And realize the Jews of color today are

So,how do we expect the 'African-Americans' to know, they are a mixture of
authentic Jews of color (Ashkenazim 'Darkies'/Sephardim). They too are
brainwashed into believing Jews are only 'white'. So, when they see the
'White' Jews its 'White Supremacy' to them.

Instead of continuing this division, we should educate people like Rev.
Eric Lee, the truth. That even Ashkenazim 'Darkies' (in the Warsaw Ghetto
during Hitler) and Sephardim exist among the so-called African Americans
communities. And we can not see the difference. Note: And my family was not
the only ones living in HARLEM, NY. during the 1940's-1970's. LOL

Maybe,Rev. Eric Lee's ancestors also hid his Jewish Identity because of
racist America. He would have been not only hated for being Black but, also

Note: Daphna Ziman educate instead of continuing to hide the
truth. You are now part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Pesach Sameach,
Hadassah Harrell

Anonymous said...

Other than it's almost Passover time, I wonder what exactly reminded Rev. Lee that God scolded the Israelites who rejoiced at the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea? It is of course very appropriate for God to remind the Israelites to be humble, even in victory, especially when the victory is owed to a miracle by God. There's a good lesson there. But it's not at all appropriate for the Egyptian to try to teach that lesson. This is sort of like when your kids are fighting. The younger one pushes the older one and the older one knocks the littler one down. You scold the older one and tell him not to treat his younger sibling so harshly. But when the younger sibling says "yeah, don't treat me so harshly", you then need to scold the little one and remind him that he was the one who started the fight by pushing and might have deserved to be knocked down. So, the lesson is not that "we're all God's children," although that's one simplistic interpretation, but more to be humble in victory. After all, God wasn't saying it was wrong for the murderous Egyptians to be drowned (what were they doing following the Israelites anyway?) since it was God who closed the Red Sea on them. Anyway, since this is the story that came to Rev. Lee's mind, I just wonder why. Especially since it is certainly not the roll of Christians (who have murdered Jews for centuries, following the teaching of MLK's namesake, by the way) to remind Jews of humility.

David Sackman said...

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.
What I will tell my son is how his ancestors woke up to their oppression in Africa, and joined together to claim their freedom. I will also have him dip ten times from his cup, to diminish his joy of celebration by the ten plagues suffered by the Africans to allow us to be free. I will tell him of his African ancestors dragged in chains to this country; how a violent war was fought to end the slavery, and a non-violent struggle fought to gain some of the civil rights he now enjoys. And again, I will have him dip from his cup to diminish his joy by the suffering that was the cost of those advances.
Why was I commanded to tell the story of Passover to my children? I do not believe it is to exchange blame, as I see being done today. No. I believe it is to remember that his ancestors, on both sides, suffered from oppression, and must oppose oppression whenever they see it again. It is my duty, which I must pass on to him, to stand up against such oppression today, whether against my own people or others.
I will tell my son of one of my own heroes. Not Moses, or Jesus, or Martin Luther King, but someone very few people ever heard of: Sigismund Danielewicz. Danielewicz was a Jewish barber from Poland, who became one of the most prominent leaders and organizers of California Labor in the 1880's. His downfall came at the convention called in 1885 which was the fore-runner to the current California Federation of Labor. The main issue on the table was a resolution to drive the Chinese from the State within sixty days, by force if necessary. Danielewicz alone spoke out against the resolution. He pointed out that he was a member of a race still persecuted, and challenged each group there to say whether the persecution of the Chinese was more justifiable than the persecution they had suffered themselves. His call for unity among Labor was jeered, and he was declared out of order. The resolution passed, and was the justification for a virtual pogrom of deadly violence against the Chinese in the months that followed. Danielewicz sank into obscurity. He was last seen homeless, and on foot towards the East Coast, in 1910. Why then, do I idolize a man who was driven from the podium and doomed to obscurity? Because he had the chutzpah to stand up against oppression, no matter what the cost, simply because it was the right thing to do.
This is what I will tell my son on Passover: It does not matter what color your skin is, nor even what “Faith” you profess to hold. What matters is what you do; which side you choose to be on. The question we must face is not who is to blame for injustice and oppression of the past, but what can we do to fight injustice and oppression now. We should not exercise “moderation” in this regard, as some have suggested. We must be forceful and persistent, as our ancestors who fought oppression were. We cannot change the past, but we must remember it. We must look up from our own oppression to the light of freedom. We must not look away from the oppression of others, but confront it directly. We must be brave enough to stand up against the tide, as Danielewicz did, and cry out against oppression, no matter what others say about us. Even if we do not see the promised land ourselves, as with Moses, and even if our words seem to fall on deaf ears, as with Danielewicz, our words and deeds are not lost. The words of my real Jewish Barber hero were heard again in Charlie Chaplin's fictional Jewish barber, with which I conclude my Passover Story:
"Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly."

dennis wilen said...

David Sacksman understands the true meaning of the Passover story.

Thank you.

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, on the following grounds:

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 lacks).

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 of blacks for Jews. 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. That's NOT power.

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 attitutdes 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. Is he trying to alienate foreign (Israeli) leaders even before taking office?

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]"

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.

"...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?

"...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...

Sackman's story is a good one, but he missed the point of the previous posting and also the context when he says, "And neither should the point of the current discussion be to lay blame on anyone." Actually, that is the whole point. Rev. Lee was trying to issue an "apology." A true apology would recognize that one has done something wrong (i.e. that the blame has been laid properly at that person's doorstep). If what Ziman remembered was correct (and there was independent corroboration), he spoke very rudely and indeed dangerously about the relationship of Jews and blacks. Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric is a result of just the type of confusion that Rev. Lee exhibited when referring to the Passover story. He identifies, as an African-American, with the Israelites who were held in slavery. And in his initial remarks he made the Jews out to be the oppressors, the Egyptians. This is of course highly offensive to Jews. Christians make this mistake often, because the New Testament is full of quite understandable internecine criticism of Jewish practices, understandable because the gospels were written mostly by the Jews who became the early Christians. But this type of criticism of Jewish practice became much more dangerous, and is still dangerous, when used by the now majority Christians against the small minority of remaining Jews. Rev. Lee spoke not only as an African-American, with whom Jews have held common cause for decades, but as a Christian. And Christians, even African-American ones, cannot blithely use antiSemitic stereotypes against Jews. Which Jewish media mogul was he accusing of profiting on the backs of African-Americans? it is never a specific person, always the collective "the Jews" who are accused. And why when one Jew does something wrong is he seen only as a Jew (representative of all Jews), but when a Christian does the same thing, no preacher ever cries out against "the Christians". So Ziman's reaction was understandable (if naive -- this has been going on for centuries), and Lee's "apology" less than convincing.

Anonymous said...

What's the big surprise? Black politicians, athletes, clergy-people, entertainment folks, rappers,
salespeople, cashiers, McDonald's workers, etc., etc.
have all made their feelings about us white folk and particularly the Jews crystal clear. In fact, I won't go into a McDonald's if the staff is all black because I have been ignored so often. My surprise is how many "Liberal Jews" run to help every minority except their own people and how many Jews are only too happy to come down hard on Israel. WAKE UP PEOPLE
Alan C.

Anonymous said...

Black people don't hate Jewish people.

Please stop spreading falsehoods.


a black person

David Sackman said...

Apparently I was not as successful as I had hoped to be in turning this discussion to a more constructive direction. There are some interesting posts on the historical points I raised. But I was not trying to keep score of the “good” and the “bad.” You can always find both, in any group and in any time. Even in the time of Exodus, there were Hebrews helping the Egyptians to keep their brothers and sisters in servitude (e.g. the character of Dathan, played so wonderfully by Edward G. Robinson in The Ten Commandments).
What I believe should be important is which we choose as our own heros, to emulate. I have consciously chosen Sigismund Danielewicz, the “Jewish Barber” as my hero. Would I have the courage to do what he did in a similar situation? Who knows. But when I find myself in such a situation, I will try to think of him and his example, rather than following the example of Dathan.
This goes for both communities (who should be) involved in this discussion. Should the Black community emulate those who sent their ancestors into slavery because of tribal warfare (as the current gang-bangers seem to be emulating) or should they emulate the heros who stood up against oppression?
As for Rev. Lee himself, I found his apology “politically correct” but still lacking. Specifically, what I would like to see is a positive suggestion of what we can all do together. So as not to be accused of abstract bantering, I will make a specific suggestion:
You may soon be seeing picket signs at your neighborhood carwash. This is because the workers there have been laboring under near-slave conditions, often being paid only tips. Most of them are from Oaxaca, and many do not even speak Spanish, let alone English. This makes it easy to be exploited. But now they are organizing, as our ancestors did on this holiday we celebrate now, and as the Black community has done more recently. The organizer of this effort is Korean, and he has been helped by diverse elements of the Labor and Latino communities.
When confronted with this picket, which side will you be on? Which tradition will you follow? Will we be divided again? Will the Black leaders withhold their help, as they did with Prop 207, because they fear the “illegals” are taking their jobs? Will the Jewish leaders withhold their help, for fear of alienating the carwash owners? Or will we all stand up and do what is right, as my own hero would have, and support the struggle of the car wash workers for better wages and working conditions?
That is my Passover challenge - for Jews and Blacks to join with the Latinos (who also have their own divisions) and Koreans, and stand together against oppression in our own community.

Shoded Yam said...

Mr. Sackman,

Please spare us anymore yafeh nefesh tripe. Get over it. Ghandi your not. You're the other side of the American Jewish coin. Instaed of wrapping yourself in the flags(both Israel's and America's) and wallowing in theo-facist claptrap, you like to indulge in self-flagellation, while wearing sack-cloth and ashes. That light unto the nations crap is strictly for suckers and Israel bond drives. The rest of us have to live in the real world, sir. I will not address your post, point by point. I will however address one point as being representative of my general attitude toward your remarks. Re.

"...You may soon be seeing picket signs at your neighborhood carwash. This is because the workers there have been laboring under near-slave conditions, often being paid only tips. Most of them are from Oaxaca, and many do not even speak Spanish, let alone English. This makes it easy to be exploited. But now they are organizing, as our ancestors did on this holiday we celebrate now, and as the Black community has done more recently. The organizer of this effort is Korean, and he has been helped by diverse elements of the Labor and Latino communities."

Need I remind you that these people are here illegally? They entered this country, knowing full well that they were committing an illegal act. When they did so, they forfeited protection under the law in regards to labor standards and practices. They understood this as well, for to complain about it, might precipitate a visit from the INS, causing all sorts of unpleasantries.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Daphna Ziman in an early email missive accused the media of covering up the fact that Obama was born "Barry Dunham" and changed his name. For what reason? I don't know, but perhaps it suggests that she subscribes to the belief that he is a secret Muslim who converted and worships with Farrakhan.

I understand that her and her husband provide are great philanthropists, but I just wonder how much credibility she can have.

Just read her previous email missive, it is quite breathlessly accusatory of everyone and everything. Comparing the sexual piccadillos of Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer now equates with a secret media conspiracy to hurt Hillary's campaign.

This primary campaign seems to have made her extremely emotional and sensitive and if you read her email, you will see why I just cannot find yet another emotional email from her credible.

David Sackman said...


Who is more illegal, the people who have lived on this continent for thousands of years before Europeans claimed it, or the Jews who ran the British blockade into (then) Palestine?

How dare I make such a comparison? Are Jews the only people who have ever suffered?

So is it only those "other" people who are "illegals?"

When I defended people from deportation at the INS Detention Center in El Centro, I served many Central American clients. The glazed look on the eyes of some, who had been tortured in their home country and seen their family and friends murdered, was the same look I saw on my relatives who survived the holocaust.

Or is it only those who are here for "economic" reasons that we label "illegal" and deny all rights to? I had Israeli clients in El Centro as well, here for "economic" reasons, but I defended them from deportation as all my other clients. If we deny rights to those here without proper documents, we are reinforcing the very economic reason for their immigration - cheap labor that does not complain.

Jews, of all people, should know better. After all, we were told long ago, not to oppress the stranger, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Fortunately, there are many jews who honor this command, and would disagree with Shoded Yam. For example, Bet Tzedek Legal Services is the ONLY legal service agency in Los Angeles which refuses federal money, so that they can represent all people, regardless of their immigration status. To me, being a Jew is a responsibility. Bet Tzedek is an example of those fulfilling that responsibility.

Shoded Yam said...

Mr. Sackman,


"...Who is more illegal, the people who have lived on this continent for thousands of years before Europeans claimed it, or the Jews who ran the British blockade into (then) Palestine?"

This is a false analogy. When you can prove the ancestral and genetic connection between the aboriginal mestizo tribes of what used to be the empire of mexico and those thousands of Mexican economic refugees that sneak under or over our border on a monthly basis, let me know. BTW, I see no reason an Israeli illegal should expect justice or equality from a system that he knowingly is trying to either subvert or game. Nor should he be exempt from our laws when apprehended.

As far as who are the more deserving "victims", I've made no such judgements or comparisons. However, though I agree the plight of the workers and peasants of Central America is lamentable, it is not our responsibilty as a nation to correct the economic inequalities of their respective home countries, nor is it in anyway comparable to State organized mass-murder, "glazed looks" or not.