(JTA) – Commentary, the conservative Jewish magazine, weighed in on black-Jewish relations in its June issue, and some are crying foul.
The issue features articles on Black Lives Matter, intersectionality and anti-Semitism in the black community, but it is its stark cover – featuring the words “African Americans vs. American Jews” – that has some accusing the magazine of fomenting a previously non-existent race war between the two communities.
Many drew a comparison to Norman Podhoretz’s 1963 Commentary article “My Negro Problem–and Ours,” in which the author described a similar conflict between the black and Jewish community, citing anecdotes from his Brooklyn childhood. Podhoretz, now 88, served as Commentary’s editor-in-chief for over three decades, from 1960 to 1995. His son, John, is Commentary’s current editor in chief.
The June issue elicited criticism from many left-wing figures.
“Commentary’s work on race has evolved little since Norman Podhoretz’s infamous 1963 polemic, ‘My Negro Problem–and Ours,’” Jewish Currents Editor Jacob Plitman told JTA. “Stoking black-Jewish antagonism harms black Jews, hinders multi-racial organizing and only serves those invested in bigotry on both sides, whether Commentary magazine or Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Neither are earnestly dealing with the systems that oppress us all.”
When contacted by JTA, John Podhoretz said that the cover line was not intended as sensationalist, but that the graphic was simply reflective of the June issue’s content.
“Commentary’s June issue features four articles that reflect on enduring conflicts between African Americans and Jews, from fights over the New York City schools in 1968 to Black Lives Matter and the way its leaders talk about Jews and Israel in 2018,” Podhoretz said. “The cover line groups these articles together. The pieces themselves are available for readers to consider and reflect upon at commentarymagazine.com.”
CAP: People take part in a protest against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter during a march in New York. (photo credit: REUTERS)