Negro-Jewish Relation in the North, Excerpt on the Causes of Anti-Jewish Attitudes
…Anti-Semitic outbursts in public are like the iceberg, seven-eighths of whose bulk is concealed below the ocean surface. Our primary concern should be with the underlying attitudes which do not find their way in print.
I see three primary causes for these current anti-Jewish attitudes. Most important of all is that Negroes and Jews are economically and geographically separated. The ordinary Negro’s image of the Jew is that of an exploiter, a landlord or rent collector, an employer of domestic labor or of factory help, or a retail shopkeeper, frequently a credit merchant, whose prices are higher than those of stores outside of Negro areas. When the relationship between Negro and Jew is exclusively commercial and where inevitably there is suspicion of exploitation or sharp-dealing, one can understand the distrust, hatred and fear generated by such encounters.
Another potent generator of anti-Jewish attitudes is the new Negro Moslem or Negro nationalist movement. These “Moslems” are of course not followers of Islam and their leaders are not trying to convert their followers to Mohammedanism. This movement is essentially a nationalist drive emphasizing the African background of the Negro and repudiating Christianity as the white man’s religion. The cult does not stop here. It has become pro-Arab and openly anti-Jewish.
The third potent generator of Negro anti-Semitism is the increasing numbers, income and influence of Negroes in the North, the consequent emergence of a Negro middle class and the ensuing conflict between the new Negro business and professional man and his Jewish competitor.
Nine million Negroes or half their total number now live outside the 11 states of the deep South. The largest centers of Negro population are now in the North, not the South…
In our Northern metropolitan areas, Negroes are jammed into black ghettoes, prevented by anti-Negro restrictions from living where their income would permit. These population clusters, however, allow Negroes to elect city councilmen, judges and district leaders from among their own members and to clamor for an equitable division of patronage. Where Jews have moved from a changing neighborhood, the hold-over Jewish politician or office holder must soon give way to a Negro…
Simultaneously one senses, although perhaps one cannot prove, an increase of anti-Negro attitudes in the Jewish community. The more important cause for this new fear and hostility is the movement of Negroes into what were formerly Jewish neighborhoods…The inevitable deterioration of the public schools, the overcrowding in the streets, the increase in “mugging,” all bring about a panic withdrawal, either flight to the suburbs or the more expensive all-white East Side or a determined effort to insulate oneself by sending children to private schools and keeping them off the streets. This new fear and consequent hostility is sensed by Jewish leaders in a new opposition to public school integration on fair housing practice acts and a vast indifference to Federal civil rights legislation relating to suffrage...
This excerpt comes from a paper by Will Maslow delivered to the annual meeting of the Association of Jewish Community Relations Workers on January 11, 1960. The paper, which he marked as “confidential,” deals with anti-Semitic tendencies in the African American community and the development of anti-African American tendencies in the Jewish community. In this excerpt Maslow discusses what he viewed as the causes of "anti-Jewish" sentiments in the African American community.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Negro-Jewish Relation in the North, Excerpt on the Causes of Anti-Jewish Attitudes." (Viewed on August 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11453/lightbox2>.