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Jews and the Slave Trade: Just the Facts



To the Editors of The Crimson:

Throughout Leonard Jeffries' speech last Wednesday, he reiterated a call to the audience: "Be prepared." He told students to form study groups, for "the truth has to be heard." I and several others did precisely that before his visit. We spent hours pouring over his Albany speech, and over dusty books in Widener.

In particular, we sought to find out the truth about Jewish involvement in the slave trade. At Albany, Jeffries said that rich Jews financed the slave trade: "We have the names, we know who they were, what they were, what they controlled. We know when they set up the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch West India Company, the Portuguese company, the Brazilian company."

I'll take the charges one at a time. The Dutch East India Company did not deal in the slave trade. As for the "Portuguese company" and the "Brazilian company," I can only assume Jeffries meant the Brazil Company, founded by Portugal to attract Jews. It too did not deal in slavery. Of the four, only the Dutch West India Company did in fact deal in the slave trade. Of the company's 3,000,000 florins in original capital, Jews contributed only 36,000, or 1.2 percent. In 1656, seven of 167 major shareholders were Jews; in 1671, ten of 192.

When I confronted Jeffries with these facts last Wednesday, Jeffries seemed shocked. First he insisted that the Dutch West India Company did deal in slavery--that is, he didn't listen to my question. The moderater intervened to make Jeffries answer my question.

Jeffries explained that the Jews had invested secretly in the company--another Jewish conspiracy. In between killing Christian babies and plotting to take over the world, these remarkable Jews found the time to invest secretly in the slave trade!

Dr. Jeffries, I would like to see your documentation--I've read the books you named, and they don't support your claims. You said I wasn't serious about my scholarship because I've never received a half million dollar grant. If you are reading this, Dr. Jeffries, I challenge you to offer me a position doing research. Dr. Jeffries, I am serious about my scholarship; are you?

Later in the speech, Jeffries spoke about Aaron Lopez and Jacob Riviera, alleged leaders of Rhode Island slaving. Actually, they were jointly responsible for only 21 of the 937 slaving voyages launched from 1709-1807. Is this evidence of a controlling interest?

As a Jew, I am ashamed and saddened that my ancestors were involved in the slave trade at all; but Jeffries' claims of Jewish control are perposterous. I do not have the space here to refute Jeffries' other claims. If you want to know the truth, read the books, or call me and we can form a study group. "Don't be sad. Be prepared."

True, most of what Jeffries said Wednesday night was accurate. It was also common knowledge for anyone who has done any research.

But, behind this curtain of truth, Jeffries veils his vicious lies, and this is what makes him so dangerous. Don't accept Jeffries' claims as fact, or collectively reject them. It is on the field of scholarship that Jeffries chooses to spread his hate, and it is on the field of scholarship that we must shatter his vile lies. "Don't be mad...Be prepared." Don't cite rhymes. Cite facts. George S. Schneiderman '95

Editors' note: The author cited footnotes which could not be included due to space constraints.

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