Professor Dollinger Discusses Controversial Article on Black-Jewish Relations

Monday, June 18, 2018

JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY -- Marc Dollinger, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University and author of Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s, questioned Commentary’s framing of black-Jewish relations as a conflict.

“The Commentary cover, in a reformulation of the magazine’s role as a leading neo-Conservative Jewish periodical in the 1960s, updates classical though simplistic understandings of the relationship between African Americans and American Jews. It’s headline, ‘African Americans vs. American Jews,’ assumes an adversarial relationship between the two communities. Yet, the history proves far more complex,” Dollinger says. “While the alliance of the 1950s ended with the rise of Black Power in the mid-1960s, even mainstream national Jewish leaders discounted the import of black anti-Semitism as national Jewish leaders leveraged black activism to bolster American Jewish identity.”

“The absence of any women authors on the cover speaks to a much earlier time in American Jewish journalism and history,” Dollinger continued, adding, “Most of all, the conflict-based headline makes black Jews invisible, marginalizing a growing Jews of Color community whose perspective as both black AND Jewish forces white Jews to question the boundaries between their Jewishness and their racial privilege.”