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Race basis of inequality
Jews are "convenient scapegoat" for hardship.
ROBERTA STALEY STAFF REPORTER
Anti-Jewish demonstrations on a South African university campus are not a harbinger of growing anti-Semitism, said a visiting scholar to Vancouver.
Such incidents should be regarded as a barometer of a group's lack of political and economic clout, said Dr. Milton Shain, one of three speakers at a lecture on "Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Anti-Racism" held June 28. It was part of a one-day symposium on Ethnonation-alism and Identity Politics: An International Colloquium held in Vancouver.
Mr. Shain, director of the University of Cape Town's Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research, said after the talk that demonstrations on his campus by some Muslims have taken place for five years every Jerusalem Day. Protestors chant, "Hitler didn't kill enough Jews," among other anti-Semitic rhetoric.
The professor, who has written the prize-winning The Roots of Antisemitism in South Africa, said Jews have become a scapegoat for the Muslims' lack of economic power. Both are involved in the textile industry in South Africa, but in a "worker-owner" relationship, said Mr. Shain. And despite the country's transition to black rule, race is still the basis of inequality. "The conflict is sharpened [by the fact] Jews are white and Muslims are colored," said Mr. Shain.
Much of the the anti-Semitism seen today in the United States has similar roots, he commented. One such group is the Nation of Islam, led by the charismatic and controversial Louis Farrakhan. He espouses that white men are devils and Jews a special kind of devil. Mr. Farrakhan, who led
last year's MiUion Man March in the U.S., has referred to Jews as the "bloodsuckers of the black community."
"Like their poor white counterparts in the 1930s in South Africa and Quebec, and their populist nativist forebears in late 19th century America, many Afiican-Americans see Jews as a symbol of the city and a cause of
Dr. Milton Shain, author of the prize-winning The Roots of Antisemitism in South Africa.
all hardships associated with the urban life," Mr. Shain said.
Jews have been regarded with suspicion in North America since newcomers from Eastern Europe first came here in the late 19th century. During the American Civil War, personal and nationalistic finstrations and economic hardship were "projected onto tlie Jew, an ideal and convenient scapegoat," he added
This experience was mirrored in rural Canada, especially among the French Canadians, who saw their quiet, pastoral. Christian world being replaced by a commercial, secular and urban world that they equated with Jews associated with finance.
As South African ambassador to the U.S. Franklin Sonn said during the lecture: "Race is quickly forgotten when an allegiance between economic and cultural interests" is forged between groups. □