JEWS AND BLACKS by Cornel West


Let the Healing Begin
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 A conversation between a black and a Jew that cuts to the heart of the troubled relationship between the two peoples. West (Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of Religion/Harvard; Keeping Faith, 1994, etc.) and Tikkun editor Lerner (Jewish Renewal, 1994, etc.) are friends and like-minded progressives. This is not a toe-to-toe confrontation like much of the current debate between blacks and Jews. It is this book's gentleness--and gentlemanliness--that makes it credible and important. These are not men out to score points with their respective constituencies. They are, rather, articulate and concerned representatives of their communities who air their deepest grievances and then act as marriage counselors looking for ways to patch things up. Their closeness makes for telling discussions about a range of topics: how best to deal with black anti-Semites like the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan; whether Jews are making impossible demands of black leaders; whether blacks and Jews have been insufficiently sensitive to each other's sense of isolation and oppression. At the same time, the book's primary fault can be traced to West and Lerner's long association and shared intellectual background: They tend to speak in a shorthand some readers might find baffling. Also, more conservative readers may object to the resolutely liberal palliatives offered by West and Lerner, and to their argument that black-Jewish unity must be preserved as one of the last bastions of progressive politics in America. Even people who disagree with the book's solutions, however, can learn much from its presentation of the problems. It is unfortunate that this effort is likely to be of interest primarily to people already concerned about the growing rift between blacks and Jews. As a model of candid and civil inter- ethnic dialogue, this book has an importance that transcends its seemingly narrow boundaries.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-399-14046-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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