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Anti-Semitism  
AMIRI BARAKA: IN HIS OWN WORDS
Updated: July, 2003

Amiri Baraka, the former Leroi Jones, has a long history of hostility to Jews and Jewish concerns. One of the most influential leaders of the Black nationalist movement in the United States, Baraka has an extensive record of anti-Semitic and anti-white statements going back a number of years.

Baraka was appointed New Jersey’s state poet laureate in July 2002, but was stripped of his title nearly a year later when Gov. James E. McGreevey signed into law legislation that officially eliminated the position. That move was prompted by public outrage over Baraka’s poem, “Someone Blew Up America.” Written in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the diatribe repeated an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that blamed Jews and Israel for the attacks. Baraka’s poem was widely condemned, and state lawmakers, unable to fire the poet, instead drafted legislation to officially eliminate his position.

The following is a compilation of anti-Semitic statements and writings of Bakara:

  • Commenting about a ruling at Stony Brook College denying tenure to Professor Fred Dube, allegedly for anti-Zionist statements, Baraka stated: "Apparently these racists are in the same boat as the Boers. So exposed is their own fascism (no rights for Arabs in Israel, continued Israeli expansion [in] Arab lands, criminal invasion of Lebanon, holding Lebanese civilians prisoners in Israel in violation of international law, the emergence of Hitlerian Meir Kahane as a potent force in Israeli politics, etc.) that they apparently feel, like the Boers, that they will not negotiate, but rather will go down to their destruction in flames!"
    -- The Statesman, November 7, 1985

  • "Israeli imperialism and South African apartheid are blood brothers." [his emphasis]
    -- Unity newspaper, June-July 1985

  • "Farrakhan must distinguish between Judaism and Zionism. It is the Zionists who control Israel and have the most influence now in the Jewish bourgeoisie in the U.S. (and South Africa), not the religion."
    -- Forward: Journal of Socialist Thought, January 1985

  • In a poem possibly entitled "XXXXXXX (18)", Baraka wrote, "Fascism wd [sic] come later in Europe (naturally) and be well advertised/as an excuse for Israeli imperialism!"
    -- Forward: Journal of Socialist Thought, January 1985

  • "Zionism is a reactionary nationalism, more dangerous because in Israel it has state power and functions as junior partner to U.S. imperialism!"
    -- Unity newspaper, November 22, 1983

  • Referring to the Stony Brook College tenure controversy, Baraka wrote: "It should also demonstrate how closely connected are the series of attacks on academic freedom mounted by the Zionists, the unrelenting pressure of the university's administrators, as the reactionary nationalism that political Zionism is."
    -- Unity newspaper, November 22, 1983

  • In an article entitled "Confessions of a former Anti-Semite," Bakara wrote: "I…constructed some metaphysical premises that Jews had stolen Black secrets and then said that Hitler disliked Jews because he could smell the contact with Black on them." He cites his previous writings: "What/Father Moses gave them, and lifted them off their hands. A Magic/Charm. A black toe sewn in their throats." He wrote, "I got the extermination blues, jew-boys," meaning Jews should be killed for the exploitation of blacks. "So come for the rent, jewboys/or come ask me for a book, or/sit in the courts handing down your judgements still I got something for you, gonna give it to my brothers, so they'll know what your whole story is, then one day, jewboys, we all, even my wig wearing mother/gonna put it on you all at once."

    Talking about himself in the present (i.e. supposedly after overcoming his own anti-Semitism), Baraka continued, "Another important aspect of the anti-Semite tag is my opposition to Zionism. In my view…Zionism is a form of racism. It is a political ideology that hides behind the Jewish religion and the Jewish people, while performing its negative tasks for imperialism. A favorite game of Zionists is to drop the label 'anti-Semitic' on anyone who opposes Zionism or upholds the Palestinians' right of self-determination…For here is a people with the murders of millions of their brothers and sisters still fresh in their memories who now function as imperialist watchdogs in the Middle East!"

    "The movement among middle-class Jews to become straightup Americans, shedding their 'Jewishness' represents a progressive trend among Jews…. But in the process of 'shedding their Jewishness' middle-class Jews have adopted the same backward ideas of American racism."

    "The vaunted Jewish support of black civil rights organizations…was in order to use them."
    -- "Confessions of a former Anti-Semite," The Village Voice, December 17, 1980

  • A collection of Baraka's essays contained numerous derogatory references to Jews. Some examples included a person being "jew-slick," to "jeworiented revolutionaries," to "cohen edited negro history," and to "new zionist conspiracies."
    -- Raise, Race, Rays, Raze, a vintage collection of the essays of Amiri Baraka since 1965, Vintage Books, February 1972.

  • "Now let us face these realities: a nigger wants to put down the Zionist and the Zionists control the radio, the television, the movies, the education, the intellectual life of the United States, the morality of the United States-Judeo-Christian ethics. The minute you condemn them publicly, you die. They will declare a war on you forever."

    "What is so weird is that certain peoples always get niggers to fight harder for them than they fight for niggers. For instance, the radicals, the Jewish radicals have bloods willing to die to see Jews get political power (and that's not an anti-Semitic statement, I think it's a very congratulatory statement)."
    -- Introduction to a documentary of the first modern Pan-African Congress, Atlanta, September 1970.

  • In an anti-Semitic poem entitled "Black People," Baraka told of the merchandise available in Jewish enterprises "Sears, Klein's, Hahnes'" and how it could be obtained by Blacks using the magic words "this is a stick up!" or "Smash the window at night…No money down… Just take what you want you need…" In another poem, "The Black Man is Making New Gods," Baraka stated, "Atheist Jews double crossers stole our secrets…They give us to worship a dead Jew [Jesus Christ] and not ourselves…" "Selling fried potatoes and people, the little arty bastards talking arithmetic they sucked from the arab's head…"
    -- Evergreen Review, December 1967

  • Publication of his notoriously anti-Semitic poem "Black Art" in 1966, which was widely disseminated by Black nationalist publications, including New York's Liberator magazine and Detroit's Inner City Voice. With respect to Jews, he wrote "We want …dagger poems in the slimy bells of the owner-Jews," "Look at the Liberal Spokesman for the jews clutch his throat and puke himself into eternity," "Another bad poem cracking steel knuckles in a jewlady's mouth…"
    -- Poem "Black Art," 1966, New York Liberator and others

Related Materials
READ THE POEM:
Someone Blew Up America
by Amiri Baraka
ADL Writes to New Jersey Governor McGreevey
ADL 2002 Survey on
Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Summary of Major Findings!

FULL TEXT!
ADL Survey: Anti-Semitism in America (2002) (.pdf 431Kb)
(requires Acrobat Reader)
Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in America (1998)
Audits of Anti-Semitic Incidents
More on Anti-Semitism
ADL Anti-Semitism Home Page
Anti-Semitism in the Arab World
Jews often alone against anti-Semitism
by Art N. Teitelbaum
This article was published in the Miami Herald on Wed, Jun. 19, 2002
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