In hopes of Black-Jewish redemption: counter-hegemonic activism and theological communion
The relationship between Afro-Americans and Jewish Americans in the civil rights and racial justice movements was once cooperative and inspiring. However, with the limit of progress in civil rights came new agendas and needs within both black and Jewish communities and the civil rights alliance dissolved. A significant factor behind the collapse of black/Jewish political relations was an abating of faith in liberalism and universalistic ideals among both Jewish and black activists. The utopian visions of civil rights liberalism no longer looked like a sensible means to ensuring the new black necessity of political autonomy and cultural independence, and the Jewish necessity to maintain a foothold in an increasingly competitive society. Early in the black-Jewish political relationship Jews perceived blacks as a subjugated group in need of assistance, and many Jews empathetically responded to this opportunity. However, at the start of the 1970s the relationship was becoming different. Blacks were now becoming a rival for jobs, and federal and educational benefits. Therefore, giving universalistic assistance to blacks looked to be self-destructive for Jews. Instead of a deconstruction and reconstruction of the liberal ideology, many blacks embraced extremist positions and many Jews became neo-Conservatives. The political alliance has never been the same, and today, blacks and Jews are often each other's most antagonistic opponents.