THE NEGROES AND THE JEWS by Laura Berson

THE NEGROES AND THE JEWS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Berson begins with the hackneyed notion of Jews and Negroes as common victims of hatred and civil-liberties denials, with a roughly parallel heritage of migration and pogroms, but with a crucial difference of ""brain"" versus ""brawn"" culture, Instead of sociologically developing and qualifying this view, Berson (a former Time researcher) turns to a voluminous compilation of anecdotes, personal histories and illustrative vignettes, speckled with her own insights and comments. After reviewing the stories of Cardozo, Edwin Moise (an anti-Reconstruction Southern Jewish politician), populist anti-Semitism and the '30's Silver Shirts, Julius Rosenwald, Joel Spingarn of the NAACP, anti-Semitic agitators in Harlem, Washington and DuBois, Herzl, Garvey, Saul Alinsky, Franklin Frazier, Ralph Ellison, Elijah Muhammad, Kenneth Clark, Jewish slumlords, credit racketeers, and the testimony of an honest Jewish merchant in a black neighborhood, Albert Shanker, Rhody McCoy, and the Panthers, and more, Berson concludes that it is ""white America's response to the black challenge"" which will determine the course of Jewish-Negro relations. Descriptions of sheriff's sales and consumer credit frauds in Philadelphia become the book's strongest sections, although the misleading impression prevails that most slumlords, fraudulent retailers, and credit gangsters are Jewish; and Berson fails to mention their ultra-respectable banking partners. Her overview of positive black-Jewish relations begins in 1945 with the official cooperation of NAACP and American Jewish Congress lawyers; it lasted ""until 1954"" and split partly for generational reasons, older Jews forgetting immigrant slum life and New Left Jews plunging into the Freedom rides (""the myth of Negro potency and virility holds a special fascination for the male Jewish intellectual,"" etc.). Epiphenomenal rather than analytical, rambling, inconclusive and rather exhausting.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1971
Publisher: Random House