After “The Citadel,” the third Afrolantica legacy comes in “Shadowboxing: Blacks, Jews and Games Scapegoats Play,” a chapter I discussed previously in Part 4: The Wages of Antisemitism. (The shootings of four Jews in Toulouse, France seemed an appropriate time to highlight the lethal effect of tolerating antisemitic ideologies.)
And so having already diagnosed the antisemitic views in the chapter, now let’s consider Bell’s bigotry in the context of his Marxism.
Why the indifference to antisemitism? For the same original reason as Karl Marx himself, because Judaism disrupts the establishment of utopia.
Let’s translate the quote line by line:
We can find no safety in turning inward upon ourselves, severing our links with the general community.
Translation: More lethal antisemitism will come if Jews continue remaining Jews. Jewish identity must be watered down.
We can find safety only if we help America deal not only with the symptoms — hatred, rage, bigotry — but with the root problems of our society — slums, powerlessness, decay of our cities, and unemployment, which spawn the evils of bigotry and conflict.
Translation: To end antisemitism we must end crime and to end crime we must end economic inequality. (Vorspan and Saperstein appear to share Bell’s contention discussed in Part 7: Unemployment Creates Crack Dealers.)
Our task as Jews must go beyond the defensive job of countering the attacks of anti-Semitism to helping bring about a just and peaceful society.
Translation: defending the progressive faith is more important than defending the Jewish faith. When the two conflict, Jews should embrace the former. And today in America the majority do.
The Huffington Post reported this week on continued Jewish support for Bell’s admirer, President Barack Obama:
More Jews (46 percent) named a “commitment to social equality” as the factor most important to their Jewish identity, followed by 20 percent who said “support for Israel” and 17 percent who said “religious observance.”
The poll also showed Jewish voters’ strong support for Obama. Twice as many said they would vote for Obama over a GOP candidate. That level of support is nearly unchanged from the same point during Obama’s first presidential run.
Kenneth Wald, a political science professor who studies Jewish voting patterns at the University of Florida, said he has heard the political chatter that U.S. Jews are so upset with Obama’s treatment of Israel that they will move away from their traditionally Democratic leanings and vote for a GOP challenger — but the survey doesn’t find evidence for that.
“About three out of four American Jews voted Democratic in 2008,” Wald said. “Something relatively similar is likely to occur in 2012.”
I would like to wish my Jewish friends a happy Passover this weekend. Thank you for keeping your tradition alive in spite of all the threats lined up against you and all the challenges that remain ahead.