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The Latino-Jewish Challenge
Mon, 03/28/2011 - 20:00

Last week’s census data on the explosive growth of the Latino community and a poll released this week by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding points to a significant challenge for Jewish community relations officials in the years to come.

Now 16 percent of the overall population and growing rapidly, the Latino community is coming into its own culturally and politically — and by rights should be a critical ally of a much smaller Jewish community.

Our ancestors, too, fled persecution and hardship and found freedom and economic opportunity in America; our community, too, had to overcome widespread prejudice.

As activists interviewed in this week’s Jewish Week point out, building Latino support for Israel may pay important dividends for the Jewish community in the years to come. While there are some troubling signs in the FFEU survey, including the 48 percent who say America is “too supportive” of the Jewish state, there are also significant opportunities in a community that has shown strong interest in working with Jewish groups.

But in outreach to Hispanic groups, it can’t be just about Israel. Supporting Israel, along with the fight against anti-Semitism, remain core concerns for the organized Jewish community; if we expect ongoing Latino support, we need to understand and address that community’s core issues — starting with comprehensive immigration reform.

A Jewish community that was once reflexively pro-immigration has become more diverse in its views — although it is important to note that a number of major Jewish groups, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee and HIAS have made such legislation a priority.

The fact remains, however, that we are unlikely to bolster Latino support on Israel — and win that community’s help in combating growing anti-Israel activity by some Latin American countries — without addressing the issue in a fair, balanced way.

The rise of Latinos, Asians and other minorities as significant components of a diverse America points to the ongoing importance of the community relations agenda for a tiny Jewish community. Focused pro-Israel activism is the issue that garners the most attention — and money — in Jewish life. But community relations groups around the country are doing critical, often under-appreciated work in building alliances around domestic issues and forging friendships that will ultimately benefit every Jewish cause — including but not limited to the cause of protecting the critical U.S.-Israel relationship.


Latinos, minorities

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I agree that Hispanic support is critical nowadays for promoting Jewish Israel issues in the US agenda. It is also important to stress out that both communities share many values as well.

It is impossible for two peoples to have less in common - except if we talk about blacks and Jews. These are not our natural allies - the Christian Right, white ethnics, and Asians are. But liberal Jews always care so much about the people who hate us the most.

Just to point out, Jewish and Latino aren't mutually exclusive! There are Latino Jews/Jewish Latinos, too! Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia.... all have Jewish communities!

Charlie writes, in part, "I have empathy for the illegals coming to America, however, they are destroying our public school system, our hospitals, highways, and are the major cause of crime and drug importation." Hey, Charlie, similar charges were lodged against just about all other immigrants, including our Jewish grand and great grandparents (etc.) Oh, and I forgot, our impoverished East European ancestors were accused of bringing in diseases and filth. At least, for those who entered before the US restricted immigration, it was within possibility to arrive "legally."

Yes, states are shutting down basic services, but it is not owing to a lack of money in the USA. The super rich and giant corporations are ripping off this country. Companies with, say, 70% of their sales in the USA, are allowed to ship jobs overseas and patent rights as well, winding up paying taxes on, say, 20% of their profits, or (as in the infamous case of GE), filing for refunds!

Yes, there is endemic corruption in Mexico, though not so much food as you seem to think. Open your eyes to the endemic corruption rotting away the roots of the USA!

Charlie, you seem like a good guy, just not really aware of what is going on here in the good ol' USA.

-- from a Jewish resident of Mexico

I have empathy for the illegals coming to America, however, they are destroying our public school system, our hospitals, highways, and are the major cause of crime and drug importation

They are wonderful workers and employers love them. They are willing to work for less money than Americans and work very well.

But, the Texas schools are firing thousands of teachers and administraters, hospitals are closing, nursing homes are shutting down, because we don't have the money to support this influx of millions of people.

If Mexico would pay for their citizens, we Texans would welcome them with open arms. The great majority of Hispanics are friendly, wonderful people.
Good workers and good neighbors.
However,they have a phenominally high birth rate and are choking our schools and medical facilities.
This invasion has to be tempored, or subsidized by their home countries.
Mexico, in particular has fantastic wealth. They have abundant food, minerals especially oil, and if it weren't for their rampant corrruptionm, their citizens would never leave.

Its totally unfair to penalize our children and grandchildren with substandard schools because our state doesnt have the resources to provide the teachers and free medical facilities to care for all of us and the illegal immigrents.