The Jews and Slavery
Source: The Jewish Tribal Review | March 2002
The Jews and Slavery
In our own time, as throughout history, Orthodox male Jews still must daily thank God for not being born Gentile, as well not being born a woman. Such ritual thanks branch out into other areas as well.
“One specific mitzvah [religious commandment] required of traditional Jews each day,” says Arthur Kurzweil, “is [a reminder] that we were slaves in Egypt. This mitzvah is not performed with a ritual object, nor is it an act that would cause some to think you looked religious. Merely reflecting in your mind and hearing that we were slaves is, in itself, considered a spiritual act of great significance.” [KURZWEIL, p. xxii] Jewish victimhood tradition ritually underscores their roles as slaves thousands of years ago. In Orthodox households, says Evelyn Kaye, “bitter herbs [are dipped] in salt water at Passover to remind [Jews] of the tears of the slaves in Egypt.” [KAYE, p. 45]
The traditional daily reminder of slavery and the supposed fact that thousands of years ago Jews were held in bondage is all the more peculiar when one tries to imagine what thoughts went through the minds of the many Jewish slave traders throughout history, merchants who were instrumental even in the slave trading of Europeans. These are the words of James Parkes, a respected philosemitic scholar, extremely sympathetic to Jews in his many volumes about their history:
“In the period from the fifth to eight centuries [Jews] gradually took the place previously occupied by the Syrians as ‘international’ traders; and they continued, and perhaps, developed, the trade in slaves.” [PARKES, p. 17]
“While the Jews were… never… the only traders, it is possible that the slave trade through north-eastern Europe to the Slav countries and the land trades to the East were for practical purposes Jewish monopolies. ” [PARKES, p. 25]
“It would appear that Jews had little difficulty in obtaining slaves in the eastern provinces of the empire and Poland, in spite of the protection which acceptance of Christianity in those regions should have given the inhabitants. References to this traffic in Christian slaves are not infrequent. [PARKES, p. 45]
“The evidence is thus enough to show that the Church possessed a genuine grievance against the section of the Jewish population involved in the slave trade. But the misdeeds of slave traders did not cease at the purchase of Christians in eastern Europe. Agobard quotes cases — and there is no reason to refute his evidence — of the theft of children in France for sale to the Moors of Spain; and a chronicler of the middle of the tenth century brings an even more unpleasant story of the castration of boys in eastern France for their sale as eunuchs to the Moorish harems, a trade which was, apparently, extremely profitable.” [PARKES, p. 46]
“In the tenth century,” notes Jewish (and Zionist) author Julius Brutzkus, “the Jews possessed salt mines near Nuremberg. They also traded in arms, and exploited the treasuries of the churches. But their great specialty … was their trade in slaves.” [LEON, p. 124]
“The first Jews that Poles encountered,” states the Encyclopedia Judaica, “must certainly have been traders, probably slave traders, of the type called in the 12th-century Jewish sources holekhei rusyah (travelers to Russia). [EN JUD, v. 13, p. 710]
“In the tenth century,” notes Israel Abrahams, “the Spanish Jews often owed their wealth to their trade in slaves.” [ABRAHAMS, p. 98]
Jews, says Lewis Browne, “traveled everywhere from England to India, from Bohemia to Egypt. Their commonest merchandise in those days, beginning with the eighth century, was slaves. On every high road and on every great river and sea, these Jewish traders were to be found with their gangs of shackled prisoners in convoy.” Such disturbing facts that impugn the Jewish myths of perpetual victimhood must of course be apologized away. “Slave trading,” says Browne, a Jewish scholar, “seems irredeemably vile and hateful to us today, but we must remember here again the standards have changed …And in light of the customs of those times, the slave-traffickers were actually doing almost a moral act. They alone were keeping the conquering armies from slaughtering every one of their defeated foes after each battle.” [WILLIAMS, J., p. 230]
Jewish apologists of course further argue that Jews were involved in the trade of European slaves (the English word “slave” is reputed to come from “Slav”) because “they were forced into it” by others, they were only “doing the dirty work for Christians,” it was a norm of the era, or that extensive Jewish slave trading was a “Christian ecclesiastical myth.” Another Jewish apologist justifies the Jewish slave trade of Europeans during the era of Pope Gregory this way:
“Had the Jews been prevented from owning slaves it is likely that they would have given up the slave trade and had they done this the labor shortage that would have been created might have caused an inestimable loss of life through sheer starvation.”
[ABEL, p. 197]
“Slave traders were proverbially dishonest.” [BARON, p. 193] And there were many legal hurdles that Jewish slave traders had to face, both from Christian authorities (who grew increasingly outraged by Jews owning Christian slaves), and their own rabbinical authorities when faced with the necessity of slaves’ castration, for instance, to be eunuchs. Jewish religious texts forbade mutilation. This problem was easily resolved by resorting to a technicality; prospective Jewish slave owners merely hired non-Jews to do the operation before they formally bought them. [BARON, p. 191]
Jewish writers in Spain complained more frequently than other places about the ethics of having slave concubines in Jewish households. [BARON, p. 194]
Jewish mythology claims a long history of moral superiority over others, and innocence. The original Ku Klux Klan (1865-1876), however, was not hostile to Jews and even had Jewish members, including Simon Baruch, the father of the Quarter-Master General of the Confederate Army. (The father of Bernard Baruch, the Chairman of the War Industries Board under President Woodrow Wilson in World War I, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan). [COIT, M., 1957, p. 12-13] The Secretary of State of the Confederacy (initially its Secretary of War) was also of Jewish birth, Judah P. Benjamin. [RUBINSTEIN, p. 20] After the war Benjamin fled to England. David de Leon was the first Surgeon General of the Confederacy. [GOLDBERG, M. H., 1976, p. 172] Other prominent Confederate Jews included Edwin Moise, Speaker of the Louisiana House; Raphael Moses who “was influential in leading Georgia out of the Union;” Henry Hyans, the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana leading up to the Civil War; and Edwin de Leon, “whom Benjamin sent to Paris to handle public relations and propaganda for the South.” “The prominent role of Jews in the Confederacy,” notes Nathaniel Weyl, “is generally either ignored or condensed into shamefaced footnotes by those historians of American Jewry whose opinions conform to the liberal-leftist stereotype.” [WEYL, N., 1968, p. 54]
“Not a single Jew,” notes Stephen Isaacs, “has been identified among the abolitionists in Charleston, South Carolina, which had been home to the largest Jewish community in the United States at one time.” [ISAACS, p. 180] “[The Jew] somehow feels that in the Great Democracy he is ‘the other’ Negro — a white-skinned one,” wrote Isaac Deutcher in 1968, “And how very often he gets his own back on the black Negro: in the Southern States more often than not it is the Jew who is one of the most fanatical upholders of white supremacy.” [DEUTCHER, ., 1968, p. 43]
Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, a champion of liberal Reform Judaism and “the most active and renowned rabbi in the United States” in the nineteenth century [SACHAR, p. 196], actively supported the enslavement of Blacks, called Abraham Lincoln an “imbecile,” and argued that Blacks were “beasts of burden.” [LINDEMANN, p. 210] Other of his words were later engraved on a memorial tablet in the Memorial Hall of Temple Emanu-El, the great Reform Judaism synagogue in New York City:
“American Judaism. A religion without mystics or miracles. Rational and self-evident, eminently human, universal, liberal and progressive. In perfect harmony with modern science, criticism, and philosophy and in full sympathy with universal liberty, justice and charity. There are no better American citizens than the Jews and no religion better befitting a free people than Judaism.” [GOLDSTEIN, D. p. 68]
Jonathan Kaufman notes the case of another very prominent New York Jewish rabbi in 1861:
“Rabbi Morris Jacob Raphall … brought the full force of Jewish learning to a defense of slavery, preaching a lengthy sermon that defended its biblical roots and noting that ‘Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job — the men with whom the Almighty conversed, with whose names he emphatically connects to his own most holy name … all these men were slaveholders.’ Raphall was no fringe figure. He was one of the most prominent rabbis of his day; the year before he had been chosen to be the first Jew to open a session of the House of Representatives with a prayer.” [KAUFMAN, J., 1988, p. 22]
Modern scholar Judah Rosenthal notes rabbi Raphall’s effect on the slavery debate in America:
“Rabbi [Morris] Raphall delivered a sermon entitled ‘The Bible View of Slavery.’ Raphall attempted to prove ‘that according to the Talmud there is no difference between a lost ox, donkey, or slave, and that the Talmud recommends turning over a fugitive slave to its master. The discourse of Rabbi Raphall which appeared in print caused a public stir. It was reprinted many times in the pro-slavery press. It produced a sensational effect coming from a popular rabbi who had the reputation of being a biblical scholar … Raphall was right in his Biblical exegesis.” [ROSENTHAL, J., 78]
In 1896 an editorial in the Jewish South of Richmond, Virginia, argued that “Negroes are intellectually, morally, and physically an inferior race — a fact none can deny, ” [LINDEMANN, p. 225] and with the death of a particularly racist Jewish senator from Maryland, Isador Rayner, a Black journalist wrote that Rayner “invoked upon his colored neighbors the terrors of (a pogrom).” [LINDEMANN, p. 233]
In 1991 a book was published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, described by one Jewish author as “a masterful piece of propaganda.” [MAGIDA, p. 171] This work, and some of the issues surrounding it, merit some special attention here. Aside from a handful of obscure, rarely read volumes that challenged the commonly accepted facts of the Holocaust, the Nation of Islam’s new volume was the most controversial book about Jews published in decades and helped in securing a deeper rift between American Black and Jewish communities. Available from a 1-800 telephone number, the book received relatively wide circulation in the African-American community. The volume, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, seeks to document Jewish historical involvement in the African slave trade and severely taints, by association, Jewish luster in the later American civil rights record. In a word, the book — which is a direct assault upon the myths of Jewry’s self-perception of a higher moral ground than other people — must somehow be dismissed by the Jewish community to avoid considerable embarrassment.
In fact, dismissal is quite easy. The Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan are in such serious disrepute in the Jewish, and other non-Black, communities that few people, other than those in the African-American world, have actually read the NOI book. Though most Jews have heard of it, it is automatically understood to be “hate literature,” molded of entirely anti-Semitic nonsense and unworthy of anyone’s serious attention. No Jew in his or her right mind would ever dare to purchase such a thing and add to anti-Semitic coffers. (Reluctance to read the book, on principle, is deep. At the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, by late 1997 the 1994 edition on its library shelves — the sole copy — had never been checked out). This situation has allowed Harold Brackman, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (one of the various Jewish “defense” agencies), to write a few versions of his rebuttal to Secret Relationship charges, counterclaims that serve completely as the relevant truths for Jews — and sympathizers — interested in the matter. Brackman and the Jewish community rely upon the fact that most (non-Black) people will probably only read his book about the controversial subject, if any.
“Among [the arguments in support of the Secret Relationship],” says Ralph Austen (who read the book) in the Jewish journal Tikkun, “there is one which Jewish intellectuals need to take seriously: that few of the Jewish leaders who have attacked the book have actually read it.” [AUSTEN, p. 66] And what is the essential impact one gets out of reading it? “There were not many Jews in America between 1492 and the 1860s,” says Austen, “and quite a few had been involved in the slave trade.” [AUSTEN, p. 68]
The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews seeks to tell the story of Jewish involvement in the African slave trade, largely throughout the Americas. The book’s strategy is to use nearly 1,300 (mostly) scholarly citations to present its argument. Seeking maximum credibility, the overwhelming majority of the excerpts from historical sources are indeed “authoritative,” i.e., the quotes are not only from respected academic volumes, but most authors are Jewish scholars in various fields of expertise. As many African-Americans bitterly complain, a very large number of Jews are preeminent in the academic world, even in African-American studies, a situation that has for decades found Jews (and other non-Blacks) dictating to African-Americans the facts and parameters of their own history. Some citations in The Secret Relationship are from less academically pedigreed commentators, but most of these are also Jewish which, as the Nation of Islam intended, confers a dimension of legitimacy to the quote, even if it is only opinion.
The quotes, facts, and figures by legitimate and well-respected Jewish academics (who usually address the subject of Jews and slaves peripherally in the course of their own other interests) do not depict, in any way, a morally superior people. They underscore the Jewish role in the African slave trade and they are collected in the Nation of Islam volume by the hundreds. Take, for example, the following excerpts:
“The female slave was a sex tool beneath the level of moral considerations. She was an economic good, useful, in addition to her menial labor, for breeding more slaves. To attain that purpose, the master mated her promiscuously according to his breeding plans. The master himself and his sons and other members of his household took turns with her for the increase of the family wealth, as well as for satisfaction of their extra-marital sex desires. Guests and neighbors too were invited to that luxury. [LOUIS EPSTEIN, Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism, in SEC.LIFE, p. 196]
“They came with ships carrying African blacks to be sold as slaves. The traffic in slaves was a royal monopoly, and the Jews were often appointed as agents for the Crown in their sale.” [SEYMOUR LIEBMAN, New World Jewry, SEC LIFE, p. 55]
In the Caribbean region, where the shipping business was mainly a Jewish enterprise … The ships were not only owned by Jews, but were manned by Jewish crews and sailed under the command of Jewish captains.” [SEYMOUR LIEBMAN, New World Jewry, 1493-1825 , in MARTIN, p. 113]
“The West India Company, which monopolized imports of slaves from Africa, sold slaves at public auctions against cash payments. It happens that cash was mostly in the hands of Jews. The buyers who appeared at the auctions were almost always Jews, and because of this lack of competitors, they could buy slaves at low prices. On the other hand, there was also no competition in the selling of the slaves to the plantation owners and other buyers … Profits up to 300 per cent of the purchase value were often realized with high interest rates … If it happened that the date of such an auction fell on a Jewish holiday the auction had to be postponed.” [Arnold Wiznitzer, Jews in Colonial Brazil, in SEC. LIFE, p. 29]
“Just as a disproportionately large number of Jews were slave owners, a disproportionately large number of Jewish merchants sold slaves as they would any other goods. Several of these merchants were prominent in their communities: an acting rabbi, the president of a congregation.” [ROBERTA FEUERLICHT, in SEC LIFE, p. 179]
The Nation of Islam’s own racist reputation, Jewish lobbying power (and the fear of it), and the obvious fact that few — if any — pedigreed historians have bothered to read the Secret Relationship can only explain the following resolution by the American Historical Association about the controversial book:
“The AHA deplores any misuse of history that distorts the historical record to demonize a particular racial, ethnic, or cultural group. The Association therefore condemns as false any statement alleging that Jews played a disproportionate role in the exploitation of slave labor in the Atlantic slave trade.” [RESPONSE, p. 9, SPRING, 1995]
But Jews did, it would seem irrefutably, have (at the very least) a “disproportionate role” in the slave trade even in the southern United States, where they were not — as the NOI book shows — as involved as in other places in the Americas. According to one survey noted by Jewish scholars Lee Soltow and Ira Rosenwaike, 75% of Jewish households surveyed in the American South owned slaves, more than double the average 36% for all southern households. [ROSENWAIKE, in SEC. LIFE, p. 180] And Jews, as we will continue to witness, have always been “disproportionately” represented in virtually any field where there is serious money to be made. (In Port Royal, Jamaica, in 1680, about 16% of Jewish households had no slaves; in the non-Jewish community, this figure was over 47%. Likewise 73.7 % of Jewish households had between one and four slaves; in the non-Jewish community the figure was 41.8 %.) [SCHORSCH, J., 2000]
Ultimately, the much-maligned NOI volume does not assert that Jews ran the whole slave trade from a back street in Amsterdam, but rather that they held indeed a disproportionately significant role, a factor that should be considered in modern Jewish-Black relations, the way it is an important factor in Black-White relations. The book’s fundamental charge is so stated: “The most prominent of Jewish pilgrim fathers used kidnapped Black Africans disproportionately more than any other ethnic or religious group in New World history and participated in every aspect of the international slave trade.” [SEC. LIFE, p. vii] Behind Jewish resistance to take responsibility (whatever its dimensions) for the more distasteful parts of Jewish history is the fact that such concessions imperil the mythos of modern Jewish identity itself: i.e., that Jews are morally superior to all others, for which they are humanity’s consummate (and innocent) Victims.
Albert Lindemann notes the typical case of prominent Jewish historian Oscar Handlin’s volume Three Hundred Years of Jewish Life in America: “[Handlin] ignored the issue [of slavery in his volume] … even while mentioning by name the ‘great Jewish merchants’ who made their fortunes in the slave trade.” [LINDEMANN, p. xx]
It is clear that the issue of Jewish influence in the African-slave trade in many parts of the world was significant. And this is the value of the NOI book (along with, perhaps, the idea that Jews are not, as so often depicted in the popular media, necessarily the “best friend” of the Black man). How much significant the slave trade was Jewish-inspired can only be a matter of endless disputation. Considerably less than one percent of North America’s population were Jews and it’s hard to imagine that, by numbers alone, 18th and early 19th century Jewry could have possibly controlled the huge slave market in this area. (As late as 1817, there were only 3,000 Jews in all of America. [ROSENWAIKE, p. 13] ) Nonetheless, in considering the evidence — Jewish and otherwise, it is clear that Jews were very much disproportionately involved in, and important to, the trade in human chattel. In some colonial posts they were no doubt preeminent in the business. The largest Jewish exploitation of slaves seems to have been in Barbados, Brazil “In the first half of the seventeenth century,” notes Abram Leon, “all the great sugar plantations in Brazil were in the hands of Jews.” [LEON, p. 176], Curacao, Jamaica, and Surinam (Dutch Guinea). Jewish historian Arnold Wiznitzer adds that “Jews dominated the slave trade” in Dutch Brazil. [SCHORSCH, J., 2000]
Historian David Brion Davis notes that in the Jewish-founded town of Joden Savanne in Surinam, they “extracted labor from African slaves in one of the most deadly and oppressive environments in the New World.” [MAGIDA, p. 184]
Jewish scholar Harold Bloom also noted that, in the early 1700s, “Colonists [in Surinam] were troubled by attacks of ‘Bush Negroes,’ former slaves who had escaped inland and refused to return to their owners. They declared themselves independent and set fire to many plantations … [BLOOM, H., p. 121] … Slave trade was one of the most important Jewish activities here as elsewhere in the colonies.” [BLOOM, H., p. 123]
And as scholar Jacob Marcus, also Jewish, observes:
“Some writers of the eighteenth century, in attempting to account for repeated flights by Negro slaves, accused Jewish owners of mistreating their charges, and indictment the [Jewish] authors of the Historical Essay [on the Colony of Surinam (1788] ascribed to anti-Jewish prejudices and vigorously denied. It is a fact, however, that the wars against the French and the Bush Negroes called into being among the Jewish planter class a specific type of individual: the aggressive, brutal fighter, politically ambitious and resentful of every limitation and infringement of their personal liberty.” [SCHORSCH, J., 2000]
Whatever its faults, the Secret Relationship is legitimate in laying out the historical role between Blacks and Jews in the New World on the table for scrutiny. While this relationship has not really been “secret” in the literal sense (the information is freely available to anyone who cares to tediously find it) it certainly has never before been fore grounded nor popularly addressed; rather, it has been buried from public discourse in the obscure pages of esoteric academe. It has taken the growth of African-American scholarship (whether others like its accentuations or not) to frame discourse about the slave trade to their own — not Jewish — perspective. As one can see in this book, existing Jewish scholarship on Black history — originally framed to Jewish interests and concerns — is voluminous.
The Nation of Islam’s intention in their volume was to quote from expressly Jewish sources as much as possible and overlooked those many non-Jewish sources that would instantly fall prey to discredit by the omnipresent charge of anti-Semitism. Citations from Jews would presumably render the NOI’s arguments all more authoritative, resistant to the inevitable charge that the book was unfairly biased against Jews.
What the NOI apparently didn’t recognize, of course, is that Jewish convention asserts that many Jews themselves are tainted by the dreaded virus of anti-Semitism. Thus, at the bottom line, it only slightly matters whether the NOI had quoted Adolf Hitler’s view about the Jews (which they did not) or critical Jewish authors of Israel and Jewish life like Roberta Feuerlicht and Lenni Brenner (which they did). Jews or not, such people are not — to the standards of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Harold Brackman, “respected authorities.” “The truth of the matter,” writes Brackman, “is that The Secret Relationship validates Feurlicht and Brenner as ‘authoritative’ for precisely the same reasons that the Nazis exploited the writings of selected Jews in that earlier era.” [BRACKMAN, p. 57]
This, then, is the tone of debate — not uncommon in the Jewish community — over the book: the inevitable dragging of even Brenner’s and Feuerlicht’s criticism of Jewry into an association with Hitler and the very thought of an investigation into the facts of Jewish influence in the slave trade as opening doors to another Holocaust.
As The Secret Relationship was disseminated among segments of the African-American community, the Jewish community ignored it as much as possible, sometimes attacking it generally, categorically, as merely an anti-Semitic tome. “The book is a remarkable work of hate,” says Jewish author Richard Bernstein in his own volume about the “multiculturalist” political wars of today’s society …. I myself saw copies of it for sale at an Afrocentric conference I attended in Atlanta.” [BERNSTEIN, p. 117] But silence by the Jewish community was perceived by many in the Black community as an admission of guilt, and Brackman eventually came forward to “point-by-point” discard the allegations posed in the controversial volume.
Harold Brackman’s credentials include the facts that he has taught — like so many Jewish scholars — African-American history at three major American universities. One of his book rebuttals to the Secret Relationship outshines even the NOI’s reputed capacity for hyperbole, entitled: Ministry of Lies, The Truth Behind the Nation of Islam’s The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. The Nation’s 1300 citations cannot be reasonably addressed in a digestible volume, so Brackman goes for what he considers to be the “anti-Semitic” volume’s weakest links.
Unfortunately, for the Jewish argument, upon close examination, the very foundation of Brackman’s scholarship is shaky from the start, as evidenced in the very methodology of his attack to deconstruct the Secret Relationship as “lies.” Brackman begins a chapter entitled “Methods ( … of Deceit and Distortions to Falsify History)” by stating that “the Secret Relationship is an anonymous production. ‘The Historical Research Department ‘ [the formal author of the NOI book] identifies no individual members, nor does it indicate their academic credentials. In other words, those responsible themselves remain secret — choosing to hide rather than stand behind their scholarship.” [BRACKMAN, p. 45]
Curiously, such impugning based on anonymity can likewise be made about the magazine Response, the journal of Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles Holocaust-oriented “education center” that sponsored Brackman’s own work. While a Response “staff” is noted at the end of the magazine — an Editor in Chief, and Editor/Supervisor, Senior Researcher, et al, the text of the magazine itself is never credited with an attributable author (except a brief editor’s column). Even the Wiesenthal Center’s educational resources kit for teachers, The Holocaust, 1933-1945, does not provide authorship for most of its pages of factual assertions.
“The reader is asked to proceed on blind faith supported only by the assurance that: ‘The facts, we believe, speak for themselves.’”
The purported facts, of course, are excerpts from mostly Jewish authors, most of them credible scholars. Brackman pushes foreword, now on a rhetorical soapbox:
“No thoughtful person should accept this statement at face value. Historical facts and historical truth are not identical. The indispensable link between them is the historian’s commitment to the honest evaluation and presentation of evidence. Two thousand years ago, the Roman orator Cicero enunciated what might be called ‘The Historian’s code of Ethics’:
“The first law for the historian is that he shall never utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality, or malice.” [BRACKMAN, p. 45]
Brackman’s championing of Cicero as a paragon of moral virtue and truth-finding is a bizarrely unsupportive selection for the foundation of his own arguments. Certainly Cicero was a virtuous figure, committed to telling the truth with no malice, et al. But as Brackman should have known, in the common Jewish rush to condemn nearly every important thinker in history as somehow anti-Jewish, Cicero is often cited in books about anti-Semitism as a seminal “anti-Semite” himself; he is to be found in such titles as History and Hate, Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, A Short History of Antisemitism, and others.
Jewish professor Peter Schafer in his Judeophobia. Attitudes Towards the Jews in the Ancient World, even writes that, in Rome, “the first voice to be heard, and one regarded as the first evidence of Roman ‘anti-Semitism’ is that of the great orator of the late Republic, Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.) in his famous speech Pro Flacco … It is the Jews as a pressure group, influential in public assemblies, who are attacked by Cicero.” [SCHAFER, 1997, p. 180]
Taking careful account of Cicero’s aforementioned reluctance to “utter and untruth,” the ancient sage says this about Jews:
“How numerous they are, their clannishness, their influence in the assemblies.” [FLANNERY, p. 15]
These are charges that are among the foundations of “anti-Semitic” arguments to our own day. And of course they remain, after all these centuries, “true,” as we shall soon see. Cicero also called Judaism barbara superstisios (a barbarous superstition) [MORAIS, p. 40] and his teacher, Apollonius Molon of Rhodes (presumably one of Cicero’s seminal inspirations for the truthful approach to history) “was the first to compose an entire work against the Jews, thus launching the endless chain of adversus Judaeos [criticism of Jews] that reaches us to the present day.” [FLANNERY, p. 12]
So begins Professor Brackman’s defense of Jewry against the anti-Semitic “lies” of the Secret Relationship.
Obviously, anyone interested in the relationship between Jews and the slave trade should read both books, the NOI’s and Brackman’s. Rather than go through a tedious point by point refutation of a range of Brackman’s own refutations of the Secret Relationship, suffice it to note that in his little 100 page book, Brackman often manages to stray considerably off the subject of Jews and the slave trade, rhapsodizing about Jewish altruism in the Civil Rights movement, chronicling the deteriorating Black-Jewish relations since 1991, arguing that calling the Black slavery experience a “Holocaust” (as the NOI book does) is inappropriate, and that African slavery deaths are often exaggerated. Most significantly, Brackman renders the Nation of Islam book to be merely “a hateful fantasy … originally concocted by white anti-Semites … who throughout history have demonstrated that they have no more true regard for Blacks than Jews.” [BRACKMAN, p. 91] This standard Jewish tact of shirking responsibility and passing it all along elsewhere upon someone else’s’ head is a historically Jewish as the Talmud. And drawing a connection, as Brackman does, between automobile baron Henry Ford’s belief in a world Jewish conspiracy and the NOI’s examination of Jewish involvement in slavery is to find, in Jewish minds, the very equivalent obsession with “conspiracy” theories as those they condemn in “anti-Semites.”
In 1993 a tenured Black professor, Tony Martin, of Wellesley College (the alma mater of Hilary Clinton) made national attention by committing the crime of using the Secret Relationship (as one of seven other course books) as a reading assignment in an African-American studies class. Martin found himself in a struggle for academic freedom against a massive — and unified — campaign by national Jewish agencies to censor and defame him, attempting to get him fired as an academically incompetent anti-Semite. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council and others joined to charge Martin with “clear-cut anti-Semitic prejudice in his classroom and on the Wellesley campus and demanded his firing.” [MARTIN, p. 8-9] Martin and the book were soon attacked in four articles in the Boston Globe, on National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC’s This Week With David Brinkley, the Today Show, and others. [MARTIN, p. 13-14]
In an attack on professor Martin, a Jewish fellow faculty member at Wellesley College, Jerold Auerbach, wrote that “Anti-Semitism … is quietly diverted into the channel of academic freedom … Professor Martin and his ilk are free to emulate [Nazi ideologue] Joseph Goebbels … It is sufficient, perhaps, to note that anyone who teaches The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews as serious history has entered the realm of academic charlatanism.” [AUERBAC H., p. 1]
One wonders how an ideologue like Auerbach musters the gall to smear Martin as a veritable Nazi when Auerbach’s own ideological allegiance and attention to “serious history” is so morally questionable. In 1984 professor Auerbach sported an article in the Zionist journal, Midstream, in defense of twenty-two members of the messianic fascist Gush Emunim organization who faced court trials for a variety of crimes in Israel. “Accused of murdering Arabs at the Islamic College in Hebron, and of attempts to assassinate Arab mayors, bomb Arab buses, and destroy the Dome of the Rock,” Auerbach sees such charges as “inflamed rhetoric [that] obscures principles of Jewish religious nationalism …. To describe these defendants as ‘West Bank terrorists’ prejudges their guilt and distorts their identity … A lunatic fringe can easily be dismissed, but Gush Emunim draws too heavily upon Judaism and Zionism for such cavalier treatment. The credo of Gush Emunim … may … be enchantingly simple. But it can also be urgently compelling for in Judea and Samaria [these are the right-wing land expansion terms Auerbach chooses in reference to what is more commonly known as the "occupied territories"] Jews are struggling to explore and express intimate relationships — between a people, its God, and its promised land — that have defined Judaism since the ‘Exodus.’” [AUERBACH, 10-84]
The group Auerbach fawns over — Gush Emunim, its messianic world view, and its hostility to all non-Jews, we have run across before and will visit again in this volume. Its credo is messianic land expansion and Nazi-like attitudes towards non-Jews based on the worst tradition of talmudic interpretation. “Gush Emunim leaders,” says Israel Shahak, “have quoted religious precepts which enjoin Jews to oppress Gentiles.” [SHAHAK, p. 96] Israeli Uri Huppert notes that Miriam Levinger, wife of prominent Gush Emunim leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger, “expressed the extremist attitude now prevalent in the Orthodox, religious-nationalist camp in her well-known remark that ‘democracy’ is not a Jewish value.” [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 18] Ideologues of Gush Emunim-style teachings who have risen to fame in recent years include Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Baruch Goldstein, mass murderer of 29 Arabs in a Hebron mosque as they prayed. More about Gush Emunim later.
Among the most prominent (of the few) African-Americans attacking Martin’s “anti-Semitism” was Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a Harvard professor, who was afforded space on the subject in the Op Ed section of the New York Times. (Gates, notes the African-American Los Angeles Sentinel, is seen by “many African-Americans … as a pawn of Jewish leadership who never misses an opportunity to attack Black scholars and Afro-centrism, while ignoring rampant Jewish racism.” [LEWIS, p. A7] Gates wrote that:
“The Bible of the new anti-Semitism is the Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, an official publication of the Nation of Islam that boasts 1,275 footnotes in the course of 334 pages. Sober and scholarly looking, it may well be one of the most influential books published in the Black community in the last twelve months … To be sure, the book massively represents the historical record, largely through a process of cunningly selected quotations from often reputable sources. [GATES, p. 219] … The authors of the Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews boast that they’re hanging the Jews by their own words!” [GATES, p. 225; original emphasis]
And what of Gates’ authoritative reference to categorically refute the 1,275 “misrepresenting” citations in the Secret Relationship? Harold Brackman. Gates’ rebuttal to the Secret Relationship, proudly proclaimed in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s magazine, Response, “drew of Brackman’s scholarship.” Hence, Gates’ foundation as an African-American scholar attacking the NOI book is not largely — if at all — his own research, but that from a polemical Jewish scholar working for the Wiesenthal Center [See later chapter for a discussion about its role as a pro-Israel, Judeo-centric propaganda center]. In a thank you letter to Brackman (published in the Wiesenthal’s journal), Gates wrote:
“I want to say how appreciative I am for the ground-clearing work you performed in your paper on ‘The Secret Relationship.’ It’s a subject I had been addressing for a while, addressing the book’s insidiousness in fairly general terms but I think anyone interested in truly thrashing through the issues has to be immediately grateful, as I am, for your splendidly detailed and meticulous work of reason and analysis.” [RESPONSE, p. 11, FALL 1992, v. 12, no. 6]