Friday, August 7, 2009

Two old articles I've come across.

No particular relation between them, except that both deal with the complicated place of Jews in relation to non-Jews who are otherwise oppressed.

Albert Memmi (who, we should recall, fought for Algerian independence):
Now it is no longer a question of our returning to any Arab land, as we are so disingenuously invited to do. Such an idea would seem grotesque to all the Jews who fled their homes - from the gallows of Iraq, the rapes, the sodomy of the Egyptian prisons, from the political and cultural alienation and economic suffocation of the more moderate countries. The attitude of the Arabs towards us seems to me to be hardly different from what it has always been. The Arabs in the past merely tolerated the existence of Jewish minorities, no more. They have not yet recovered from the shock of seeing their former underlings raise up their heads, attempting even to gain their national independence! They know of only one rejoinder: off with their heads! The Arabs want to destroy Israel. They pinned great hopes on the summit meeting in Algiers. Now what did this meeting demand? Two points recur as a leitmotiv: the return of all the territories occupied by Israel, and the restoration of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinians. The first contention can still create an illusion, but not the second. What does it mean? Settling the Palestinians as rulers in Haifa or Jaffa? In other words, the end of Israel. And if not that, if it is only a matter of partition, why do they not say so? On the contrary, the Palestinians have never ceased to claim the whole of the region, and their succeeding "summits" change nothing. The summit meeting in Algiers is linked to that of Khartoum (1967), there is no basic difference. Even today the official position of the Arabs, implicit or avowed, brutal or tactical, is nothing but a perpetuation of that anti-Semitism which we have experienced. Today, as yesterday, our life is at stake. But there will come a day when the Moslem Arabs will have to admit that we, the "Arab Jews" as well - if that is how they wish to call us - have the right to existence and to dignity.
And Henry Louis Gates, Jr., from 1992:
During the past decade, the historic relationship between African-Americans and Jewish Americans -- a relationship that sponsored so many of the concrete advances of the civil rights era -- showed another and less attractive face.

While anti-Semitism is generally on the wane in this country, it has been on the rise among black Americans. A recent survey finds not only that blacks are twice as likely as whites to hold anti-Semitic views but -- significantly -- that it is among younger and more educated blacks that anti-Semitism is most pronounced.

The trend has been deeply disquieting for many black intellectuals. But it is something most of us, as if by unstated agreement, choose not to talk about. At a time when black America is beleaguered on all sides, there is a strong temptation simply to Ignore the phenomenon or treat it as something strictly marginal. And yet to do so would be a serious mistake. As the African-American philosopher Cornel West has insisted, attention to black anti-Semitism is crucial, however discomfiting, in no small part because the moral credibility of our struggle against racism hangs in the balance.

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