JAMES BALDWIN AND THE JEWISH STATE
Chicago, IL I Mondoweiss
Eyewitness Palestine delegate Steven S. has written a remarkable piece on James Baldwin’s assessment of Israel and Black-Jewish tensions in the context of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 campaign as the Democratic presidential candidate.
Baldwin was featured in The Cross of Redemption, an anthology of uncollected talks, essays, and reviews. During the transcribed Q&A he states:
“Whenever Israel is mentioned one is required, it appears sometimes to me, to maintain a kind of pious silence. Well, why? It is a state like other states. It has come into existence in a peculiar way. But it does not, does not, become a state because people who wrote the Balfour Declaration, or Winston Churchill, or for that matter anyone in Europe, or in the Western world, really cared what happened to the Jews. I wish I could say differently, but I would be lying if I did—it came into existence as a means of protecting Western interests at the gate of the Middle East.
Baldwin reinforces this point when somebody from the audience questions the validity of implying that Israel “was set up to protect oil interests in that area.” Baldwin responds: “I said to protect the vital interests of the Western world, and I don’t mean to be sardonic or cynical, but I would be lying to you and lying by my own experience if I said to you that the Europeans—the English, the Dutch, the Germans, the French—impressed me as having any vivid concern for Jews.” He returns to the theme of Jewish people being either disposable or instrumentalized in traditions of Western capitalism.”
In short, according to Steven S.’s piece, Baldwin identifies Zionism as a concern of Western imperialism.
You can access his article in full below.