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Can Barack bolster black-Jewish ties?

Could Barack Obama help restore the historic alliance between Jews and African Americans if he’s elected president, as he’s promised to do in speeches to Jewish groups? U.S. House Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), a veteran of the civil rights movement, suggests that yes, he can.

Obama “simply raising the issue would cause many people to understand it has to be done,” said Norton on Tuesday morning at a breakfast on “Black-Jewish Engagement” co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and the NAACP in Denver.

Norton, D.C.’s delegate to Congress, also said that the reason that African Americans and Jews don’t have the same kind of relationship that they did more than 40 years ago is because civil rights was an issue that drew the two groups together in a “natural way.”

“The issue was there and [we] did not need [to] work to bring people together,” Norton said. In the present day, “I applaud the search for issues” that can be jointly worked on, she said, but an issue like Darfur has not resonated in the black community the same way it has motivated the grassroots of the Jewish community.

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