Black anti-Semitism "hardly exists," the Rev. Jesse Jackson insisted during a visit to New York last week to discuss relations between Jews and African Americans.
"There is no black philosophical anti-Semitic ideology, like the Germans supported race ideology," said the civil rights leader and founder of Operation PUSH. "Blacks don't like some Jews, Jews don't like some blacks. That is personal and not ideology."
Jewish leaders from New York and Washington met with 16 black representatives from across the nation last week to clear up misunderstandings and forge closer ties. The meeting was noteworthy for the large scope of participants: including Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, John Lewis of Georgia and the dean of New York's delegation, Harlem's Charles Rangel.
But also creating a buzz are reports that the event was put together by a 21-year-old summer intern from Flatbush.
Some prominent black leaders are intensifying their efforts to stop a white Jewish candidate from winning the Democratic primary for Congress in Brooklyn's majority black 11th Congressional District.
Black elected officials have held a series of meetings, including one Monday morning, to address their growing concern that well-funded New York City Councilman David Yassky could prevail in a Sept. 12 Democratic primary against three African-American candidates. Efforts to convince one or two of them to drop out to avoid splitting the black vote have fallen short.
In a sign that the Crown Heights murder case remains a racial and political hot potato, three black New York congressmen declined last week to sign a letter that calls the reversal of two convictions in the case “possible miscarriages of justice.”
For the second straight year, a report on black-Jewish relations across the country paints a rosy picture of cooperation overshadowing conflict. The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s annual analysis of black-Jewish interaction in 1997 found that, despite tensions caused by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, relations are “markedly improving.”
But the timing of the report made it impossible to analyze the fallout from differing views on the crisis in Iraq, a subject of concern according to Foundation president Rabbi Marc Schneier.
When Moshe Livne came to New York earlier this year, Israel’s new deputy consul general here set an unusual mission as one of his top priorities.
“I want to work on relations with Latinos,” said the former ambassador to El Salvador, who is fluent in Spanish.
Latinos, the fastest-growing ethnic segment in New York, are as disparate in location throughout the five boroughs as in their cultures, economic class and lands of origin.
To Elizabeth Wilkins, covering her hair with a wig for the rest of her life after marriage was difficult to imagine. “I don’t know if I could deal with it,” said Wilkins, 17, her own hair tied in curly dreadlocks, after watching a stylist adjust a woman’s sheitel at Gianna’s salon in Borough Park last week.
Critics may dismiss last week’s meeting between a small group of Jewish leaders and Carmel Cato as a “good photo op,” but Howard Teich, who facilitated the meeting, insists that was the last thing on his mind.
A majority of blacks agree with Jews that anti-Semitism is a problem in the African-American community, according to a national poll released this week.
But in a seemingly contradictory finding, 48.8 percent of blacks gave a “favorable” rating to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of comments and theories considered by Jewish leaders to be anti-Semitic.
The poll, commissioned by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, contains several mixed messages about the often polarized groups.