Black Power and Jewish Politics with Marc Dollinger

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

So highmark. Welcome to the PODCAST. Great to be here. Thank you. Yeah. I'm really glad that you can join us for I. Think Really Important and relevant conversation. I read through the book I think it's a fantastic book. I think that you're offering a revision of some of the ways in terms of how people have understood. Especially, Jewish people have understood the question of the history of black Jewish relations. You maybe WANNA get US started off by saying a brief word about your argument in the book and what it is that you're putting forward. Yes, sure when I was growing up as a white suburban Jewish kitten in in La I learned that the civil rights movement was the story of a black Jewish alliance that brought heroic Jews to the south where they fought on behalf of racial justice until the mid nineteen sixties. The. Rise of black militancy of. Black Power of anti-semitism. Community purge Jews and ended what was a wonderful alliance. When I looked in the archives though and began researching the book. I discovered an entirely different story emerging instead of sort of the Dr King Rabbi Hessel arm in arm narrative that I was raised on. I. Found that even White Male Jewish leaders of National Jewish organizations understood as early as the nineteen fifties. There was a fundamental difference between being white and Jewish in America and being black? In. America. And they in fact, knew that there would be limits to the black Jewish alliance and That was my first sort of shocking discovery in terms of revising I knew growing up. It's a really jarring perspective for a lot of people Jewish people I want to say who grow up thinking about and being taught about this alliance within the civil rights movement and the involvement of Jews within the civil rights movement. So I think that what you're offering here is a almost radical perspective, a radical revision of how we understand the role of the Jews in the civil rights movement. I'd like to frame it s a both and and it's really important I to acknowledge the extraordinary American Jewish participation in the civil rights movement and in social justice causes. When you look at the ethnic groups in America, Jews are the most liberal. Progressive. Democratic. Party. Now Voting Group only African Americans vote more. And by that standard I think there's justifiable pride amongst American Jews for the work that we have done and those perspectives have been covered in the historic. Already. What's also true is even as many heroic. Jews. Did go to the south to register voters and in some tragic cases, of course, gave their lives most Americans use didn't. And there became almost sort of in the north, a sense that watching on TV, what the Jewish heroes were doing extended to them as well. So what my book is trying to do is take a broader more inclusive look of all Americans, or at least white American Jews, and now we get to see more complexity to what's going on. So I don't see this as as undermining. The existing truth about Jewish involvement but I see it hopefully deepening it and making it more complex. Why do you think that it's important to offer this complexity to the narrative of first of all? It's surprising in and of itself there's something that custodians recall historical memory, which is what actually happened and what we remember or think happened what we were taught happened is often different. In fact, there's a history of historical memory which says the way in which we choose to remember or forget or analyze or spin. If you want to be more cynical, our historical past actually is meaningful in and of itself. So what I found, when I was surprised to find was that as early as the nineteen fifties, Jewish leaders were calling out the limits of white Jewish liberalism and the inevitability of of African American autonomy and what would become the rise of black power. So at the very time that the public narrative was consensus arm in arm. But I love the called peace love and Bobby. Sherman. Everything's great. At that moment, even the Jewish leaders who were engaged in that kind of consensus politics understood its limits. That's the part that we've forgotten. I think over the last fifty or sixty years and I think it's really important especially in today's climate for us to understand better that it was always deep and complicated an intense and we knew about it at the time. And then the real story is how in journalism and historiographer and in public memory, we sort of forgotten that element until we've remembered it again with the national reckoning on race

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