New book chronicles the history of American Jewish contributions to South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and the influence of the movement on American Jewish identity.

Page Content 1

Professor Marjorie N. Feld’s new book, Nations Divided: American Jews and the Struggle Over Apartheid, details American Jewish involvement in the battle against racial injustice in South Africa, placing it in within the context of the long historical encounter between American Jews and apartheid.

According to Feld, just as many American Jews proudly fought for principles of justice and liberation in the Civil Rights Movement, so too did they give support to the movement for racial equality in South Africa. Today, however, the memory of South African apartheid bedevils the debate over Israel and Palestine: some see in South African history a cautionary tale for the Jewish state, even as others decry the comparison as anti-Semitic.

In the years following World War II and the Holocaust, Jewish leaders around the world stressed the need for unity and shared purpose, and while many American Jews saw the fight against apartheid as a natural extension of their Civil Rights activism, others worried that such critiques would threaten Jewish solidarity and diminish Zionist loyalties.

Even as the immorality of apartheid grew to be universally accepted, American Jews continued to struggle—over Israel’s relationship to South Africa, and over persistent analogies between South African apartheid and Israel’s Occupation.

As author Marjorie N. Feld shows, confrontations with apartheid tested American Jews’ commitments to principles of global justice and reflected conflicting definitions of Jewishness itself. These struggles continue even in our own day.

Nations Divided is available in hardcover, EBook and paperback.

About the Author

Marjorie N. Feld, Ph. D., is Associate Professor of History and Faculty Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College in Massachusetts, US. She teaches courses on US labor, gender, and social history. Feld is the author of Lillian Wald: A Biography (2008), which won the Saul Viener Book Prize of the American Jewish Historical Society.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society—while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

By Barbara Spies Blair,, 781-239-4621 | 08/25/2014 07:00