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on January 7, 2014
I have not completed this book; however, I have found it very interesting and clearly with merit. I still find something missing that possibly will be explained in its fullest before I have concluded it. I believe sometimes some emotions and situations cannot be put in a book and nor does can it express the majority and minority if it is to be sold. That being said, I think it is a good book to read in order to get a glimpse at some of the main issues.
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on February 3, 2017
Was as I expected
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on August 9, 2015
Book arrived in good shape as advertised. Thank you!
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on March 20, 2005
This book takes a good look at some social problems in America. It was written in 1988, but I have the updated edition from 1995.

Blacks and Jews are minorities that cooperated during the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s. And there is still some cooperation on that issue, as various states continue to discriminate against minority voters.

We see some of the cooperation and also some of the problems as this book as the experiences of six different people are examined in detail.

Paul Parks, a Black who joined the civil rights movement in the 1960s, in chosen as an example of one who valued a Black-Jewish alliance. In April 1945, he was one of the soldiers who liberated the concentration camp at Dachau. But in 1967, he noted that there were complaints by some Blacks about Jewish landlords in the ghettos. Parks wanted to distinguish between the slumlords and those Whites who were actively helping the Blacks, given that without White support, Black causes would be hurt. But we see how many of the more politically involved Blacks thought of the Jews not as another minority but as part of the White majority.

Next, we see Jack Greenberg and Esther Brown, who filed a landmark suit against segregated schools (Brown versus the Board of Education). These were Jews who saw the issue "not as a Negro cause but as a human cause." Still, there were problems when some Blacks decided to boycott a class that Greenberg taught at Harvard on "Race and the Law" to protest the fact that the instructor was not Black.

After that, there is the story of Rhody McCoy, a Black who became the head of the Ocean Hills-Brownsville school district in New York City. Right away, there was a problem with a teacher strike. McCoy kept the schools open by hiring sustitute teachers, but this soured relations with the strikers. The issue became bigger, bitter, and painful, and certainly reduced cooperation among Blacks and Jews in the city.

The story Kaufman tells next is of Roz Ebstein and her family. Hers was just one of many Jewish families in Chicago that supported the civil rights movement in the 1960s. But we discover the effects of blockbusting, as her neighborhood, rather than becoming integrated, simply became almost exclusively Black. Eventually, she and her family felt forced to move to a new neighborhood, a few miles away, in order to be in a better school district and to avoid harrassment from Blacks.

There is an excellent section about Martin Peretz, who became the editor of The New Republic in 1974. Right away, we see one effect of Black-Jewish cooperation, namely that some Jews who learned more about Black culture and history decided they might as well learn about Jewish culture and history as well. Peretz, a liberal, couldn't stand Begin, a conservative Israeli Prime Minister. But Peretz made a point of supporting Israel's right to exist in the New Republic. Peretz, a stong supporter of civil rights, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the civil rights movement. But a turning point came in 1967, with the National Convention on New Politics. This group became dominated by radicals who tended to ignore problems of poverty, oppression, the war in Vietnam, racism, and discrimination and instead attacked Zionism. Peretz was more cautious about which groups he supported after that.

The final chapter is about Donna Brazile, a well-known political campaign chairwoman. We see her introduction to issues that were separating Blacks and Jews: Jewish landlords, failure of some Jews to support affirmative action, and failure of some Blacks to support Israel. Plus, some specific problems, such as the firing of Andrew Young as UN ambassador and Black Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson meeting with terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. Through all this, Brazile kept her focus on trying to get as diverse and inclusive group of supporters as possible in her campaigns.

I was struck by the mention of Alice Walker, who wrote "The Color Purple." Walker is well-known as a sensitive and thoughtful person. The book tells that when asked about Farrakhan, she condemned him as a bigot and an antisemite. But the book also tells of Walker's attitude about Israel, and this shocked me. I'm not asking that she favor some minority, whether it be Blacks, Jews, Pagans, or anyone else. But I am asking someone with her credentials to support human rights against aggressive and lying tyrants, thugs, and bullies. I feel that Walker should have found some way to oppose antizionism very strongly, and I certainly condemn her for not doing so.

I think the issue of cooperation among minorities is important. There is a tendency for minorities, often in an effort to win favor with the majority, to show hostility to other minorities. That is not the true path.

I recommend this book.
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on August 2, 2001
The Jews and African Americans share a history of suffering and bigotry unequaled in recent times. History suggests that they should be the closest of partners in dealing with these issues. However to read the news you would think that they were historical enemies. This has not always been true. The Alliance between Jews and African Americans was a powerful force for change over most of this century. Jonathan tells the story of that Alliance and how it fell apart.
As a journalist Jonathan tells this unique story from the perspective of important individuals on both sides. He traces them and their changing perspectives through these significant historical changes. It is this personal perspective that makes Jonathan's stories so compelling.
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on June 14, 2007
Kaufman's basic assumption is that the alliance between African-Americans and Jews was never as smooth as history makes it out to be. By exhaustively researching that alliance and presenting it through the points of view of six prominent leaders of the Civil Rights movement, Kaufman provides a unique overview of the racial issues of the previous century, but it is not without flaws. First, like many liberals, Kaufman is too broad-minded to take his own side in an argument. Thus, he goes into great detail in explaining away Black antisemitism, but never seems to realize that there is no Jewish equivalent. Black outrage over the lack of Jewish support for affirmative action is constantly brought up throughout the book, but the use of quotas to restrict Jewish admissions to Ivy League schools is mentioned only twice, creating the impression that Jews were opposed to affirmative action out of a desire to avoid competition, rather than out of fear of being shut out (again) of the professions. He routinely glosses over the records of many of the militant Black leaders who took over after Dr. King's assassination, making them seem simply outspoken or radical, rather than thuggish or criminal, as in the case of the Black Panthers, for example. Anti-semitic acts are routinely explained away as having been taken out of context (his history of the Oceanhill-Brownsville controversy provides a context for the reading of a virulently anti-semitic poem on WBAI that all-but excuses it). His coverage of the Crown Heights riots (in the updated version of the book) avoids mentioning critical facts about the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum and subsequent acquittal of Lemrick Nelson which cast the Black community in a poor light (the jury actually partied with Nelson after the acquittal). The final chapter of the book is a discussion of the importance of the alliance, but it is written on the presumption that political conservatives dislike both Blacks and Jews and are relishing the fight, which is stated explicitly, and which diminishes the value of the book as a historical record. In the end, it's simply an attempt to get Jews to keep giving money to Democrats and Blacks to continue to vote for them so that they can defeat those evil conservatives. Given the rise of anti-semitism since 9/11, the history in this book is even more critical to understanding the schisms in American culture, but Kaufman's bias reduces its value, taking what could have been the definitive history of a critical alliance in the Civil Right movement and reducing it to a partisan appeal.
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on June 21, 2010
It's all negativity. Kaufman dredges up the most violent stories concerning the Black-Jewish relationship in the USA. First it's the Ocean-Hill Brownsville incident, then the urban decay, then (obviously) the Crown Heights riots. He even includes an account of how some "liberal" Jews fought to integrate their neighborhood, then had to move because the new Black residents were bullying their kids and burglarizing their home. But were the burglars "Black", or were they really just angry boys from broken homes?

The Black-Jew conflict in this book is really about a class conflict. If the apartment buildings have Jewish landlords and Black tenants, there's bound to be conflict. If the miserly factory owner is a Jew and the underpaid workers are all Black, again you have conflict. But is it a Jewish problem, a race problem, or an economic one? Nowhere in this book are there any conflicts between Black and Jewish doctors, nor between Black and Jewish policemen. All the conflicts are between classes. When the Crown Heights Riots happened, the class conflict was clearly evident. Look at the industries that employ huge numbers of Black people; nurses, security guards, law enforcement, cab drivers, cooks, teachers, military, construction, etc. None of the rioters were off duty cops, nurses, firemen, soldiers, sailors, bank tellers, secretaries, or bus drivers. The rioters were all angry fatherless teenagers, angry drug addicts, and angry women who'd been impregnated and dumped by their boyfriends. The fact that they were Black is a "red herring".

The educated Black professionals were the ones who went on TV and demanded action from the Mayor!

The problem BROKEN ALLIANCE is the negativity. Kaufman looks for the worst in everything, hoping to make something sensational.
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on January 22, 2002
Both Jews and blacks have suffered greatly in various parts of the world. In the United States, there has been somewhat of alliance between the two groups. Brokedn Alliances deals with this alliance, like the NAACP having many Jewish lawyers and how Jews and Blacks came toghether for the civil rights movement. It also deals with how these groups have been losing contact due many factors like black anti-semitism and the importance of Israel to American Jews.
Broken alliances is definetely something people should read if they want a better understanding of the history of race relations.
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on May 30, 2004
I highly recommend this book - particularly the section on "the last Jewish liberals" who tried to make integration, civil rights work for their family in a changing South Side Chicago neighborhood.
It didn't work, they eventually fled the lowrer class, Black takeover and moved to the suburbs, only they stayed longer than the other Whites.
The book works well because the author writes very personal stories that present the truth about what happened.
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on October 11, 2010
Kaufman makes a valiant attempt here to probe (and get right) the impossible depths of the complexities of Black-Jewish relations in America's impossibly complex and profoundly racist culture. That he succeeded in getting the "surface details of the history" correct is much to his credit. At least he did so whenever they favored Jews, and then he promptly finessed them (and thus got them wrong) whenever they did not. The result is that only on the surface (and at the level of detail that this book was capable of probing them) does the book appear to accomplish the task of "being fair and balanced."

While in most books on race "the devil is usually in the details," in this case, where historical accuracy is not the main issue, "the devil undoubtedly lies in the structure and the context, not just in the details. So, one would be remiss not to point out that getting the historical details correct was only one, and arguably not the most important, task of the book. The much more important task in this reviewer's mind was to properly interpret and get right the "meanings" that emanate from the context and the structure of America's still very racist, (and today, as well, very much Balkanized), society. The author's failure to properly "contextualize" the meanings and structure of American racism, in my view proved to be an escape hatch so large that it consistently favored positive and well-meaning Jewish interpretations, mis-representations, and consistently down-played the long and consistent Jewish racist attitudes towards blacks, as well as their undeniable position in the American racist hierarchy as an integral part of the ruling racist circles. It also led to the consistent over use of "red Herrings" such as allowing Louis Farrakan to be a "stand in" for the Black view, when in fact he has always been on the fringes of main stream blackness. Repeated use of this canard, undermine any pretense of balance and fairness and was allowed to cover a multitude of non-existent black sins such as the Black propensity for being openly anti-Israeli and openly anti-Jewish due to "real" rather than "perceived" anti-black Jewish actions and policies. This has allowed the author to mis-characterize and mis-label these as being anti-Semitic, which arguably they are not.

This was such a consistent and overused strategy and sub-theme (or meta-theme) of the book that a few examples must serve to make the point, otherwise this review will become too lengthy.

In fact, it is the author's own excellent history that makes this case best: Until the Nazi scare during WW-II and continuing post-war anti-Semitism afterwards, Jews were (and as they are again today) virtually indistinguishable from ordinary whites on the issue of racism: They fought "for" slavery in the South, fought against Truman's policy to integrate the arm forces, against implementing the 1954 Supreme Court decision, vigorously kept Blacks out of Jewish run labor Unions, continue to uniformly be against Affirmative Action (even when a preponderance of Jewish women benefit from it) and against Black reparations (at the same time that Jews were receiving them), and have long been oppressive and racist landlords in the inner cities, etc. They did this at the same time that (always a handful of) Jews also contributed to and held offices within the NAACP, controlled its legal defense fund, presented legal briefs in the 1954 Supreme Court Decision, and fought and died in Freedom Summer.

Thus to get right to the point, this book reveals nothing so much as it does that: Jews, were always single-minded about defending avowedly Jewish interests, even if it meant taking over and commandeering the black agenda to do so, and then even when a "couple of handful" of Jews found it expedient to risk exposure and "go against the grain of American society" to fight for fairness and justice. That blacks saw this for what it was, "Jews using any means at their disposal to help underwrite their own survival," cannot be held against blacks? We are no more interested in how Jews see themselves as Jews than Jews are interested in how blacks see themselves as blacks.

But it seems even in this author's "Jewish friendly rendition," that the Black-Jewish alliance from the Jewish point of view was always pursued as a result of a complex set of hidden Jewish agendas in which the Jew was supposed to come out "being seen: as the savior of freedom and fairnessd? In point of fact, they assisted blacks only when it was undoubtedly in the interests of larger "Jewish causes," (such as their socialist agenda, or control of the unions, or impending outbreak of anti-Semitism, Nazism, etc.) and almost never (as is implied by this book) solely in the noble and abstract interest of fairness and racial equality for its own sake. And more importantly, almost never solely in the interests of black causes per se.

I would have had no qualms with the author's rendition so long as his facts would have been characterized "as such, and up front." For there is no law that says a group cannot be selfish in pursuing its own survival needs, and nothing intrinsically wrong with a group pursuing its own agenda even as it seems to be assisting that of others. However, when it is couched in a "Jewish-centric" and overly syrupy interpretation as it has been throughout this book, then it is fair to acknowledge that the "so-called" Black-Jewish Alliance was always an expedient one, at least from the Jewish point of view.

I think there would have been no harm in the author simply stating the obvious: that when it comes to groups (as is the case with countries) there are no permanent sides, just permanent group interests. Three stars
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