- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

Let's get something straight. There is no question that, in the past in America, blacks have been scammed, mistreated, bamboozled, two-timed, double-talked, triple-crossed, brutalized, exploited and abused. But why blame us? We were not even in the neighborhood at the time. Did anybody ever meet a Jew who handed him his card, and said to give him a call at his plantation? Did you ever see a Jew with a cotton ball? Jews don't like cotton balls. They like matzo balls.

The truth is that while all of the mistreatment of blacks was going on in America, Jews were also slaves. But they were known by different names, like "serfs," "peasants" or "indentured servants," and lived in huts with hot and cold running anti-Semites in freezing places like Poland or Russia. And yet, anti-Semitism is a consistent theme in African-American culture.

An Anti-Defamation League poll showed that while only 12 percent of Americans are anti-Semitic (which is nothing to brag about, particularly if you are a Semite), 37-38 percent of African-Americans are anti-Semitic. Like all polls that seek to register a socially unacceptable response, the numbers are probably artificially low.

The irony of all of this is that in America, African-Americans historically have had no greater benefactors or supporters than Jews. Jews have been in the forefront of every civil rights movement to the point of getting killed down South, where it wasn't particularly healthy even to be a Jew, let alone a Jew helping a black man. In the past in Georgia or Alabama, such a Jew would be overly optimistic if he went into a diner and ordered a three-minute egg believing he would still be alive to enjoy it.

In African-American neighborhoods, the hospitals have Jewish names and are staffed by Jewish doctors, who were trained in Jewish-supported medical schools.

If blacks had a group that held up banks and kidnapped people for ransom, and said they were doing it for civil rights, Jews would make a fund-raising party for them on Central Park West, listen to themselves be insulted for 45 minutes, and then break out the cookies and cake.

The reason for all of this is guilt. If faith can move mountains, Jewish guilt can shift continents. A Jew's guilt starts in early childhood when mothers begin every other sentence with, "God will punish you …"

A Jew feels he will be punished for anything that brings him any sort of enjoyment or pleasure. A Jew will feel guilty if he has a good time with a bad girl, if he makes a lot of money or even if he is simply healthy. A Jew spends his whole life waiting for the other shoe to fall. This is because historically most Jews were visitors or outsiders wherever they were. Around the corner there was always someone waiting to toss them out and tell them that this was not their country. They never quite felt they were entitled to the riches they acquired and were always ready to do penance for their good fortune.

But it is also human nature that when a person gives you something out of charity or pity, somewhere deep inside, you hate him for it. You hate the fact that you needed it in the first place, and you hate the fact that you had to take it, and you hate the person who gave it to you. This is an entirely human emotion except when dealing with a brother-in-law. A brother-in-law will empty your pockets while you are sleeping since he believes he has a natural entitlement to your money.

Therefore the African-American response to the choice of Joe Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, as Al Gore's running mate, should have come to the Gore people as no surprise.

Then-Dallas NAACP chairman Lee Alcorn said that the Jews "interest has to do with … money. If we get a Jew person … what is this [civil-rights] movement for?" In an editorial, Amsterdam News publisher Wilbert Tatum, claimed that money from Jewish contributors was used to "buy" Mr. Lieberman the slot on the ticket and claimed "America is being sold to the highest bidder." Calypso Louie Farrakhan ranted about the Jew's "dual loyalty." Mr. Tatum may be the only one of these people who has a legitimate right to hate Jews, since his wife, the former Susan Kohn, is Jewish.

It is clear that the African-American vote that was traditionally in the Democrats' back pocket can no longer, because of Mr. Lieberman on the ticket, be taken for granted and at least some portion of it may either defect or just sit out this election.

As far as the Jewish vote is concerned, sizable numbers of Jews may well be either too self-hating or frightened to vote for a national ticket with a Jew on it, and these traditionally Democratic votes may be lost as well. Even if this were not so, Jews, who comprise only 2 percent of the population, could never offset the black votes the Democrats would lose.

All of this leads to the troubling thought that if we could figure all this out, and Mr. Gore has not been able to figure it out during the eight years he had to think about who he would pick for his vice president, how good would his judgment as president be if he had to make great and important decisions on an urgent basis?

Jackie Mason is a comedian and Raoul Felder is an attorney.

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