By Munir K. Nasser
Tensions escalated between American Jews and Blacks this week over a controversy involving vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman at the Democratic National convention in Los Angeles.
The controversy erupted when Lieberman tried to calm tensions with black delegates to the Democratic convention by pledging to support affirmative action, which gives minorities, including Blacks, certain quotas in employment and government benefits. When Lieberman spoke to the Convention's African-American caucus, he denied he ever opposed affirmative action, and Black leaders pledged to support him in the elections.
Meanwhile, another tension flared up between Jews and Blacks when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accused a Black Newspaper of running an anti-Semitic editorial. The Amsterdam News, the New York City black weekly, ran an editorial claiming Jews bought Lieberman's slot as the first Jew on a national ticket, saying: "Gore and his minions did it for the money."
The paper said in an editorial titled: The Democratic Party-Jewish Connection, "Jews from all over the world, especially in Europe, Africa, Israel and South America, will be sending bundles of money ... America is being sold to the highest bidder."
The Amsterdam News editorial was written by publisher Wilbert Tatum, whose wife, the former Susan Kohn, is Jewish.
In a letter to the Amsterdam News, ADL National Director Abe Foxman claimed that Tatum had shown himself to be "an anti-Semite the likes of David Duke ..."
Foxman said, "Tatum's assertion is insidious and an anti-Semitic canard employed by anti-Semites, racists and conspiracy theorists through the centuries to bolster their absurd claim of Jewish control."
The controversial editorial follows a flap last week when the head of the Dallas branch of the Black organization NAACP was suspended - and later resigned - for attacking Lieberman and calling him "a Jew person."
Dallas NAACP chief Lee Alcorn criticized Lieberman’s nomination on a radio show last week by saying: "I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnerships between the Jews at that kind of level because we know that their interest primarily has to do with, you know, money and those kinds of things."
In suspending Alcorn, NAACP national President Kweisi Mfume said Alcorn's remarks were "anti-Semitic and anti-NAACP," and noted that Lieberman had a 100 percent voting record on key NAACP issues.
ADL Director Abe Foxman praised Mfume, but said Alcorn's remarks were troubling because there is a higher level of anti-Semitism among blacks than among Americans overall. He said a 1998 ADL poll found that about 12 percent of Americans have anti-Semitic attitudes, but among Blacks, the figure is 37 to 38 percent.
A poll by the Joint Center, a think tank focused on African-American issues, showed that the Lieberman nomination could reduce voting turnout among Blacks because of Black-Jewish tensions. Analysts say this could cause a problem for Gore, since blacks vote more than 80 percent Democratic – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)