Blacks and Jews: Alliances and Arguments

This is a stimulating collection of essays old and new, edited by Berman, whose provocative piece reprinted from the New Yorker-“The Other and the Almost the Same”-serves as introduction. Notable chestnuts include James Baldwin’s “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White” and Norman Podhoretz’s “My Negro Problem-and Ours,” updated with an ungentle postscript. Other essayists include Andrew Hacker, Shelby Steele, Jim Sleeper, Clayborne Carson, Ellen Willis, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Leon Wieseltier and Cornel West. One might quibble over some omissions-no Letty Cottin Pogrebin, no black more nationalist then Derrick Bell-but this is a worthy omnibus. Most surprising are Joe Wood’s meandering yet heartfelt meditation on race inspired by Podhoretz, French leftist Michel Feher’s call for a difference-acknowledging “cosmopolitanism” as a middle ground between identity politics and liberal universalism and philosopher Laurence Thomas’s subtly powerful suggestion that Jews, but not yet blacks, have group autonomy and a “narrative,” a set of stories that defines values, positive goals, history and rituals.

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