Thursday, November 19, 2020

Remember When Farrakhan Said Palestinian Arabs Were Bloodsuckers?

If Blacks are a minority and Jews are a minority, why is there such tension between them?

One element that caused this friction is the way social interaction between Jews and Blacks was structured in the 1960's.

According to the book "Israel in the Black American Perspective" (1985):
In the Black community Jews were frequently associated with wealth and "parasitism." Under the least propitious circumstances, Blacks usually met Jews as storekeepers and landlords--the most visible representatives of an oppressive economic system. Such meetings were not likely to promote good will and mutual respect. [p4]
But if Jewish storekeepers and landlords are such a significant reason for how Blacks viewed Jews, why would that hatred seem to be so focused on Jews?

In a footnote to that paragraph, the book's authors -- Robert G. Weisbord and Richard Kazarian, Jr. -- point out that Jews were not the only storekeepers and landlords that Blacks had contact with:
In some cities, New Orleans and Newark to mention just two, Italian-black relations were acrimonious for similar reasons. Of late, "exploitative" Korean merchants in Harlem have aroused the ire of Afro-Americans, some of whom have responded with "buy Black" campaigns and organized boycotts of the Korean businesses.

And in Detroit, Arab grocers, mostly Iraqui [sic] Christians, have experienced picketing by Blacks who denounced profiteering outsiders. Burning and looting occurred in 1983 following the killing of a Black youth by an Arab storekeeper.

Antagonism to the Arabs in Detroit was rooted in the frustrations Blacks feel when confronted by the more rapid economic progress made by first and second generation immigrants. Black hostility to the Iraquis [sic] in the Motor City is strikingly similar to that directed at the Jews in Gotham and elsewhere. [p6. Text divided into paragraphs for easier reading. Emphasis added]
Over the decades, Race Riots were not directed only at Jews:
Similar to the 1943 Detroit Race Riots that devastated the Jewish population, and the 1967 Race Riots that left hundreds of Chaldean [Iraqi Arab Christian] businesses destroyed, Koreans too dealt with a destructive riot in 1992 Los Angeles.
The context for the 1992 riots is the reaction to the verdict that cleared the police officers who were videotaped beating Rodney King, a year after a Korean store owner shot and killed a 15-year-old Black girl because he thought she was stealing a bottle of orange juice --
The nearly weeklong, widespread rioting killed more than 50 people, injured more than 1,000 people and caused approximately $1 billion in damage, about half of which was sustained by Korean-owned businesses. Long-simmering cultural clashes between immigrant Korean business owners and predominately African-American customers spilled over with the acquittals. [emphasis added]
In Chicago, there was friction between Blacks and Arab immigrants too:
Common complaints about stores predominantly owned by Muslims from Palestine, Jordan, and Yemen, are that they only provide low-quality food and don’t take any ownership over their role in the community. “The reality is that Englewood is changing, and if you don’t improve your model, in time you will go out of business,” says Gunn.
Yet despite tensions between Blacks and other groups -- tensions that let to riots -- have you ever heard Farrakhan attack minorities other than Jews?

Actually, he did.

In 1995, The Chicago Tribune reported about
comments Farrakhan made Friday during a television interview in which he was quoted as saying Jews, Arabs, Koreans and Vietnamese were "bloodsuckers" who set up businesses in the black community but never gave back to those neighborhoods.
Not just any Arabs.

The Buffalo News had the full quote:
In an interview with Reuters Television aped Oct. 4 and made public Friday, Mr. Farrakhan touched on several sensitive subjects that previously outraged Jewish leaders and prompted accusations of anti-Semitism against him.

"When we use the term 'bloodsucker,' it doesn't just apply to some members of the Jewish community. That could apply to any human being who does nothing for another but lays on that human being to suck the value of its life without returning anything," Mr. Farrakhan said in the interview.

"Many of the Jews who owned the homes, the apartments in the black community, we considered them bloodsuckers because they took from our community and built their community but didn't offer anything back to our community.

"And when the Jews left, the Palestinian Arabs came, Koreans came, Vietnamese and other ethnic and racial groups came. And so this is a type and we call them bloodsuckers."[emphasis added]
Later, Farrakhan complained about the media for misreporting what he said: "It is unfortunate that the media is taking words that were spoken out of context to create division."

He never did make clear what the proper context for "bloodsuckers" was.

But the next day, Farrakhan did a turnaround, equating the suffering of Black Americans with other minority groups in the US:
In an address at Operation PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St., Farrakhan said African-American men are dehumanized in the United States in the same way Japanese, Germans, Italians and, more recently, Koreans, Vietnamese and people of Middle Eastern descent have been treated in the U.S. during wars involving Americans.
..."We didn't feel their pain because they were considered the enemy," Farrakhan said to the gathering of about 100 people. "Thanks to the media manipulation, we are seen now as the enemy."
To understand Farrakhan's turnaround, you need to keep in mind:
  • His original comment was on a Friday.
  • His "correction" was the next day, on Saturday.
  • Two days later, Monday -- was his Million Man March.
Farrakhan's statement standing up for other minorities was a cynical move to avoid bad press for his upcoming Million Man March in Washington.

So why did Farrakhan have it in for Palestinian Arabs?

According to The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Palestinian Arabs started arriving at the end of the 19th century, and many settled in Chicago in particular --
By the early 1970s, they owned nearly 20 percent of all small grocery and liquor stores in Chicago, most located in African American communities, although Chicago's 30,000 Palestinians represented less than 1 percent of the city's population. By the 1990s, Palestinians had maintained this niche, but they also diversified into used-car dealerships, gas stations, auto repair shops, ethnic stores, and fast-food restaurants, remaining, however, primarily a community of small business entrepreneurs serving mostly “minority” communities. According to the 1990 census, more than 45 percent of employed Palestinians in the Chicago area worked in retail trade. The second largest concentration—some 14 percent—were professionals. [emphasis added]
As with Jews, Arab Christians, Italians and Asian-Americans, there were Palestinian Arabs, too, who were store owners in Black communities.

This is not to minimize the problem of race relations or deny the validity of alleged discrimination. But the knee-jerk reaction of Farrakhan to accuse such a varied group of immigrants of being 'bloodsuckers' exploiting the Black community reveals more about Farrakhan than it does about the various ethnic groups he attacked.

Maybe that is why Farrakhan ended up focusing his hate on one group alone -- Jews.

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