Kaufman, Sundiata to talk on black-Jewish relations

Forum Monday cosponsored by Black student Organization and Hillel

Jonathan Kaufman (left) and Ibrahim Sundiata

The Brandeis Black Student Organization and Hillel will cosponsor “Common Ground: Exploring Black and Jewish Relations,” a conversation between Professor Ibrahim Sundiata and Jonathan Kaufman, education editor at Bloomberg News.

This discussion, which will occur in the context of the impending national election, will be held in Alumni lounge from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Kaufman and Sundiata previously appeared together at a Brandeis program titled “Blacks, Jews, and Obama” during the 2008 presidential campaign. Monday’s discussion may refer to the current campaign, but is focused more on the overall state of African-American and Jewish relationships today.

“Blacks and Jews have a very long and complicated history,” Kaufman said in a recent interview. “We often have a lot to talk about – some of it good, some of it unpleasant – and there are often a lot of issues. It feels to me like this kind of a discussion is always relevant.”

Kaufman won the National Jewish Book Award for “Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America,” published in 1988.

The book showed “the trajectory of the relationship between Blacks and Jews in America,” said Hillel Executive Director Larry Sternberg, who suggested Kaufman as a speaker. “He is a wise observer of contemporary American and I always enjoy bringing him on to campus.”

History shows that Jews and blacks alike vote overwhelmingly Democratic in national elections “notwithstanding differences and breakdowns in relationships,” Sternberg said. “The historical experience Jews have of being discriminated against makes them naturally sympathetic and very much wanting to be sensitive to the needs of the African-American population in the United States.”

“President Obama has very high approval among Jewish voters and normally Jewish voters have supported the Democratic candidate,” Sundiata said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the President addresses African-American issues that are pressing alongside economic issues and other groups’ issues, like those of Jewish Americans and the LGBTQ.”

Preceding the discussion, Kaufman, a member of the Boston Globe team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of racism and job discrimination in Boston, will have an informal dinner at 6 p.m. at the Hiatt Career Center with a small group of students who are actively interested interested in journalism.

“There’s a revolution going on in journalism,” Sternberg said. “He’s in the middle of it, he’s an experienced journalist who still has the craft, works for Bloomberg and manages other people who write. I thought it would be interesting for him to share what he sees.”

“Journalism is simply the platform on which people get their news,” says Kaufman. “I think news is more important than ever because of the problem of how it’s delivered, from Twitter to the New York Times. The other challenge is the skepticism that people have for the media and the belief that reporters are not objective.”

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