I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would call black folks stupid because we don’t understand why Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for saying what he said. Now we watch Congresswoman Omar going through it, and still, a lot of black folks are confused why she’s coming under attack.
One thing we do know is that when the word Israel or Jew comes out our mouth, we have just been labeled anti-sematic.
A lot of black folks don’t know what a Semite is, let alone how to offend one. And why should we when no one has taught us. Our parents probably weren’t taught either because it’s not passed down. All we were taught by the old black folks is to hire a Jewish lawyer if you’re in trouble.
I’m going to speak for myself and the black people that I went to school with. Nobody teaches us about Jewish stuff or Israel stuff. Even in those years I was in Quaker and Catholic schools, Israel, if that’s a subject, was not taught.
My first introduction to Jewish stuff was in my study of Black Nationalism days and someone gave me the book, ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’ Other than that, I’ve heard speeches and writing from Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan.
I would think Jewish folks would shriek if they knew my only education came from those sources, but that’s probably more than what most black folks have received.
Back in the early 1990s, I almost got my chance to get the education that would probably help me understand this U.S. love affair with Israel. There was an old Jewish guy who worked for me (imagine that) as an appliance salesman. I managed all the PGW district office appliance sales operation and Al Ottinger was the beloved salesman at our West Philadelphia district office. We were so tight that he offered to take me to Israel to see the sights, meet the people, eat the food, and he specifically said that I’d see people that looked just like me in Gaza. He had put his nephew through Temple University who became an exec at El Airlines so our airfare would be free. I was so hyped to go.
Unfortunately, Al Ottinger died before we could go. I had the unfortunate task of cleaning out the desk he sat for over 25 years. In stereotypical Jewish fashion, there wasn’t a single penny to be found. I still own and treasure the Menorah plate he gave me as a gift on one of his visits and still place it above a doorway because Al said it would bring me luck.
We don’t understand the controversy with Congresswomen Omar when she mentions pro-Israel lobbying groups spend million of dollars to build support for Israel in the U.S. We see the attacks on the Palestinians and wonder how anyone can say that’s okay. We don’t get why Pennsylvania passed a law banning any company doing business with the state or any public employee union from boycotting Israel or divesting their funds of investments in Israel. We don’t understand why the U.S. gives Israel $38 billion dollars.
The one thing I do understand is Congresswoman Omar stating, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on [the Foreign Affairs] committee.” That’s just common sense, I think.
I don’t think I speak for myself, but most black folks don’t understand this Jewish-Israel stuff. Is there anyone willing to come in the black community to help us understand what’s going on? If you think we’re getting it in schools or at home, you are sadly mistaken.
I don’t think the ‘Protocols of Zion’ or Minister Farrakhan are the only sources we should count on. Or maybe they are.
Who knows? Who cares?