In response to a sustained GOP campaign to discredit him on Israel, Barack Obama has touted a growing roster of pro-Israel stalwarts who support him, repeatedly insisted that Israel's security is "sacrosanct," defended Israeli military maneuvers and vowed to do everything in his power to block Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Blacks and Jews are back together and working side by side for an Obama victory, JTA reports from Denver.
Why is the Louisville case so important? Why should we, as Jews, care about its outcome, especially if our children may not even attend public schools? Is affirmative action even relevant in 2006, in our schools, in our world? What are the benefits of diversity in education anyway?
I asked myself if Jews really are clannish and, if so, should blacks use that as a model for advancement? But more to the point, I asked myself if there were things Jews do that blacks should adopt to become more prosperous.
My answer: an emphatic yes.
The Jewish people are under attack. Horrific expressions of anti-Semitism are spreading across the United States and the world. These attacks, both verbal and physical, are occurring at all levels of society, from the highest ranks of government to individuals on the street.
This month, as we honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., we ask blacks to embrace his legacy and to join Jews in defeating the injustice of anti-Semitism. Even as King struggled to achieve equality for black Americans, he did not hesitate to express total disdain for anti-Semitism, especially when it reared its ugly face in his own community.
The church is not a place that one typically associates with Chanukah.
"The Syringa Tree," which won the 2001 Obie Award for best play and premieres in Los Angeles this week, might be the first theatrical work to deal with the complicated and ambiguous relations between Jews and blacks in South Africa. A solo performance written and acted by Pamela Gien, it is a partly fictionalized -- though mostly factual -- account of a half-Jewish, half-English child in Johannesburg during apartheid. Created by Gien in a Santa Monica acting class in 1996, the play was inspired by the brutal murder of Gien's grandfather when she was a child.
Back in 1990, while working as an assistant at a film production company, my daily mail chores acquainted me with the postal worker across the street. One Friday, as we said our goodbyes, I said, "See you Monday," when she corrected me: Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
I didn't know if my office would be closed, I said.
Her eyes flashed as she said she would take the holiday even if it weren't given to her, because "it's our holiday."
In that flash, I saw the different worlds we inhabited in the same country, my skin color having allowed me to forget it. I knew our meant black. I wanted to tell her it was my holiday, too, but I didn't know if it was. Back at the office, I learned that it was an optional holiday -- whoever wanted to take the day off could, but the office would be open. I told my boss that I would take the holiday. I later learned from a co-worker that the boss was annoyed with me, that in her opinion "the only person who should have the day off is the receptionist -- the only black employee."
It's starting with a few tentative steps, but it could eventually become a stampede; lawmakers on Capitol Hill may soon consider pending legislation creating a national museum focusing heavily on the issue of American slavery.
The movement to create a new museum of African American history provides an opportunity to help mend the rift between Jews and blacks, but also presents a potential dilemma: the effort will inevitably lead to comparisons between slavery and the Holocaust.
Among Jews, the subject of black-Jewish relations inevitably brings to the surface two impassioned, if not unrelated sentiments: a liberal nostalgia for the integrated social activism of days gone by and an embittered cataloguing of the latest anti-Semitic soundbites to come out of the mouths of black leaders.