Facing Up to Black Anti-Semitism
As the controversy surrounding the role of Louis Farrakhan in the Million Man March underscored once again, the greatest story of unrequited love in American political life may be the relationship between blacks and Jews.
When the civil-rights revolution broke out in the late 1950′s and early 60′s, the front-line troops in the Montgomery bus boycott and then in the lunch-counter sit-ins were all blacks, but among the whites who soon rallied to the cause, a large share—a disproportionate share—were Jews. The Freedom Riders rode in integrated detachments; among the whites, Murray Friedman notes in his recent book, What Went Wrong?: The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance1 two-thirds were Jews. A few years later came the “Mississippi Summer,” a project dreamed up and organized by a Jew, Allard Lowenstein; according to Friedman’s estimate, Jews made up from one-third to one-half of the white volunteers who took part. Of the three martyrs of the Mississippi Summer, two, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, were Jews; James Chaney, the local activist who shared their fate, was black.
About the Author
Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is working on a book about Arab and Muslim democrats.