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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan April 21, 1995, V3, #74 All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Israel Offers Help in Oklahoma City Bombing

Israel's government has offered to assist US rescue and law enforcement agencies in dealing with the aftermath of the bombing in Oklahoma City. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was one of many world leaders who sent messages of condolence to President Clinton, and offers of help.

But the prime minister's spokesman, Oded Ben Ami, says Rabin believes Israel has something special to offer because it has so often been hit by terrorist bombs. Ben Ami says Israel has a special rescue unit and terrorism experts in its army and law-enforcement organizations, which it is willing to send to Oklahoma City if the US authorities believe it would be helpful.

Jews and Blacks Reach Out in Print

By Rodrick Murray (Washington)

A book written by a black scholar and a white magazine editor to broaden dialogue on Jewish - black relations has just been published. The idea of Jews and blacks uniting to fight for economic equality has been discussed for many years. But the two authors -- one African American, the other Jewish -- wanted to reach a wider audience.

Cornel West, a professor at Harvard University, and Michael Lerner, a magazine editor and publisher, have collaborated on a book entitled "Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin."

Recently at Howard University in Washington, DC, the authors talked about some of the thought provoking subjects they cover in their book.

Cornel West explained why the discussion was arranged. "Brother Michael Lerner and I are here to engage in a dialogue that focuses on something bigger than each and every one of us. It has to do with suffering in America and around the world.

"We are here to attempt to be part of an on-going process that highlights two particular groups that historically have served as the pillar for progressive politics known for focusing on suffering.

"That people of African descent in America, people of Jewish origin or persuasion in America, have been the two vanguard groups to keep alive the best of a democratic tradition that claims that the most powerful -- cooperate elites, bank elites, and political elites that have a disproportion amount of wealth and resources and power in America -- are in some sense rendered accountable so that the vast majority of people can attempt to lead lives of decency and dignity by gaining access to a job with a decent wage, adequate health care, quality child care, educational system. That seizes the imagination of young people rather than dampens and deadens it."

The authors say their book examines principles and not personalities. The book, they say, looks at on-going oppression and how to alleviate it instead of who is the most oppressed. The writers say they seek a dialogue that is honest, candid, and critical. They say no one in the discussion is at center stage.

West and Lerner say they feel that Jews and blacks should come together because of the oppression they have had to endure for centuries. Lerner says he believes the Jewish community will not let African-Americans stand alone.

"From the standpoint of many liberals and progressives in the Jewish world, we are committed to not letting African-Americans stand alone in facing the assault on their economic situation that is happening in America today -- the tremendous attempt to disrupt the social support systems that have provided minimum level for caring, minimum level for support for the African-American poor, as well as for other poor in the society. We are determined not to allow African-Americans to be isolated and put in this situation where they stand alone facing a tremendous majoritorian population that wants it to scar them."

The authors agree that in order for Jews and African-Americans to come together and for the Jews to be able to help the African Americans, the black community must band together against those who speak against Jews. They describe anti-Semitic remarks from some blacks as destructive to Jewish community support. The writers say Jews willing and ready to help the African-American community are meeting resistance from Jews who feel the African-American community does not want their help.

West spoke about the effects of well publicized remarks by black Muslim leaders and other black activists. "How does one deal with the voices in the black community who often target Jews as a group and link that group to black suffering? So we struggle over how do we respond to engage in dialogue with, bring critique to bear, Minister Louis Farrakhan, brother Leonard Jefferies, brother Khalil Abdul Muhammad, Tony Morris? We can go on and on. How does one engage in dialogue, how does one be honest in terms of the ways in which they talk about Jews?"

Both authors agree on the need for the two communities to bond but they do not agree on how it should be done. Dr. West urges frank dialogue with the people who concentrate on the differences while Dr. Lerner says the African-American community should protest against anyone who makes anti-Semitic statements.

Their joint appearance at Howard University demonstrated their hope that Jews and Blacks would work together after each group became aware of and sensitive to the other's histories.

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