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Review: 'The Street Sweeper'

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 “The Street Sweeper “ by Elliot PerlmanThe novel “The Street Sweeper “ by Elliot Perlman is an enjoyable, middle-brow book with a highly improbable but  predictable plot redolent of TV crime dramas. However this politically partisan novel  raises the issue of the legitimacy of fiction versus faction (historical fact-based fiction).

“The Street Sweeper” fails because in its historical  sweep of 80 years to the present it has an unacceptable  Zionist bias and ignores relevant Elephant in the Room realities. Thus while it commendably deals with atrocities against African-Americans in the struggle for civil rights, it ignores the horrendous realities of life for African-Americans today in neocon American- and Zionist-beholden America. While it graphically describes aspects of the Jewish Holocaust, it ignores the horrors of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide (2 million deaths, 7 million refugees, 90% of Palestine ethnically cleansed, 6 million Palestinind forbidden to even live in Palestine) and of  the Zionist-backed Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide (12 million violence- and deprivation-related deaths since 1990, about 20 million Muslim refugees).

 “The Street Sweeper": is a long book (554 pages in the Vintage, Sydney 2011 paperback edition) but the unbelievably coincidence-riddled story can be  summarized in about 1,360 words as outlined below.

Lamont Williams is an African American working in a New York cancer hospital on probation after release from prison for his unwitting involvement in an armed robbery. Lamont lives with his grandmother and is searching for his roughly 8 year old daughter by his now estranged (African American?) lover Chantal who had finally stopped visiting him in prison. Lamont helps and befriends a dying Holocaust survivor Henryk Mandelbrot, cared for by African American oncologist Dr Ayesha Washington. Mandelbrot gives him a searing account of being a Jewish Sonderkommando involved in disposing of bodies of gassed Jews in ovens and pits in Auschwitz. In particular, Mandelbrot describes the Sonderkommando rebellion shortly before the Russian liberation of Auschwitz in which 2 participants were a woman Rosa Rabinowicz and her former lover in the Polish town of Ciechanow, Noah Lewental. A kapo permits the lovers some time together before Rosa is hanged. Rosa declares from the scaffold”Tell everyone what happened here! Tell everyone! Tell everyone!”.

Before the war, Rosa Rabinowicz had left the Polish town of Ciechanow after her long-time sweetheart  Noah Lewental is persuaded to (falsely) admit fathering the child carried by promiscuous Ada, the shoemaker’s daughter who does palm readings and is very popular with the boys when her father is away on business. Noah had been to her place but only to pick up a pair of shoes for his father. Rosa goes to pre-war Warsaw, marries psychologist Chaim Broder and has a daughter Elise. However Noah Lewental comes by and he makes love to Rosa. Unfortunately  Chaim returns home early and sees them copulating. Chaim takes Elise and goes to America. Ada’s baby is still born.

Another key strand of the story involves Jewish American Australian Adam Zignelik whose lawyer father Jake Zignelik stays in America when his estranged Jewish Australian wife takes Adam to live in Australia. Jake is associated with the African American civil rights movement and has a particular friendship with African American WW2 veteran and civil rights lawyer William McCray. William’s son Charlie McCray is a history professor at Columbia University who encourages his friend Adam to do a PhD and thence become an assistant professor at Columbia. Inspired by stories from his father about the African American struggle for civil rights, Adam writes  a well-received book on the subject but then finds that he is struggling for inspiration. Facing failure to gain tenure, Adam discards his (Jewish?) lover Diana on the basis that he cannot imagine fathering a child and not being able to support the family. Overworked head of department Charles is unable to help his friend Adam with tenure, but together with his wife Michelle (the cousin of Lamont Williams) and daughter Sonia provide friendship to the drowning academic.

Adam Zignelik is inspired by veteran William McCray to go to Chicago to try to find out if African American soldiers had been involved in the liberation of Dachau. Adam’s only clue from a veteran friend of William is “Professor Boardman, Chicago Institute  of Technology”. In the bowels of a campus library he  discovers the life’s work of psychology  professor   at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Dr David Border,  who has published a book on 8 interviews with Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) in post-war Europe and entitled “I did not Interview the Dead”. Adam discovers the transcripts of about 50 interviews with DPs taped by Dr Border using technology invented at IIT (and translated from the Yiddish,  German, and Polish by Dr Border) and then discovers the actual magnetic recording  “wires” themselves. It transpires  that Dr Border lives with his daughter Elise in a huge house  in which also reside housekeeper African American Callie Ford , her son Russell (who has witnessed the lynching of his father by a white mob) and her eventual partner African American slaughterhouse worker James Pearson. Dr Border has various graduate students who study “The Adjective-Verb Quotient” of traumatized people (the initial formal basis for his post-war interviewing of DPs in Europe), including his favorite student, Jewish and  Yiddish-speaking Wayne Rosenthal, who helps him with the transcriptions and falls in love with Elise Border, this love being reciprocated. However one night Wayne discovers a  misplaced recording “wire”, plays it, and discovers a possible connection between Dr Border and a Rosa involved in smuggling gunpowder for the Auschwitz Sonderkommando rebellion. Wayne tackles Dr Border about it at a party but is told to never touch the “wire” again  and to have nothing more to do with Elise (this being established by an interview Adam has in 2007 with an 80 year old Wayne Rosenthal).

Adam Zignelik goes to a Melbourne, Australia, aged care home to interview Hannah Weiss who had told the story about Rosa to Dr Border. Another  inmate, Mr. Leibowitz,  who is an old friend of Adam’s parents, recognizes him and asks him to take him to visit an old friend downstairs in the “high care section”. The old friend is clearly Holocaust survivor Ada from Ciechanow  - the promiscuous girl who was the cause of the Rosa, Noah and Dr Border misfortune -  because she says “The camp guards won’t give me any more water. He always does better with them. You know, all the boys liked me. You ask anyone. All the boys liked me. My father’s away on business now so you don’t need permission to visit me. I can read your palm. Do you want that?”.

The unlikely coincidences escalate. Lamont Williams is given a silver menorah (8 armed candlestick) by the dying Henryk Mandelbrot that was a given to Mandelbrot by his son and daughter-in-law. The Mandelbrots discover the loss and Lamont readily admits the gift but is disbelieved and dismissed from the hospital probationary program. Lamont becomes a street sweeper. He accosts Dr Ayesha Washington and asks her to explain his friendship with Mandelbrot  to the hospital authorities but she says “But I’m sorry, I don’t remember  you”. However Lamont accosts  her again and  Dr Washington becomes interested when Lamont  cites Mandelbrot’s searing tale of Auschwitz. Adam discovers from one of the  ”wires’ that a DP remembers a black soldier involved in the liberation of her camp and in particular his name “Washington”. Adam tracks down the name and the regiment and phones Dr Ayesha Washington (how many Washingtons are among the 18.9 million people of the New York City Metropolitan Area?) who turns out to be the granddaughter of the man, Captain James Washington, agrees to a meeting and arranges an interview with her sick veteran grandfather. However Dr Washington gets to thinking about Lamont and the Holocaust survivor, rings Adam in his capacity as a Columbia University historian and asks for his help.  Ada, Dr Washington and Lamont meet and Adam tells them that “relatively few people on earth knew the details Lamont knew about the Sonderkomandos”. Adam is reconciled with Diana (who at their previous meeting indicated she had another lover), he has tracked down evidence of African American soldiers liberating the Dachau concentration camp and in addition to Lamont’s verbal account  has learned from Lamont that Mandelbrot has left a written account.  

A meeting is called between the hospital authorities, Lamont, Dr. Washington, Adam Zignelik, and the Mandelbrot relatives. Lamont tells his story, everyone is convinced, and the menorah and the hospital job are  returned to Lamont. Adam does not realize until later in telling the story to the McCrays that Lamont  is Michelle McCray’s cousin. Throughout the book we are significantly and repeatedly told of a girl travelling on New York public transport who resembles  Lamont’s daughter in being a “light skinned, black girl with braided hair tied with red ribbons … aged somewhere between seven and ten”. At the  end such a girl appears and rushes over with a cry “Mom” to Dr Washington, who is standing at a street corner with  Adam and Lamont …

This book was a good read. The horrific scenes of racist violence and lynching in America and of the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz need to be told and blend into a contemporary tale of an academic’s search for professional relevance set in New York in 2007 (dated by the address given to the students and staff of Columbia University by the anti-war, anti-drugs, anti-racism, and anti-Apartheid President of Iran, Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on 24 September  2007  and alluded to in the novel). The compelling message from these atrocities is deservedly repeated in the novel: “Tell everyone what happened here”.  However that said, the novel fails this core demand and there are some major criticisms that must be made of the novel as set out below.

1. Implausibility of plot and lack of character development. We all know about 6 degrees of separation but the extraordinary  coincidences outlined above are simply too implausible for even the most pliant and susceptible reader. The topical breadth of the book has been glued together by utterly improbable connections, flukes and coincidences. The characters of the novel were subsumed to the story and the agenda whereas in my view in a really good novel the complexity of character is primary and it is this complexity  that drives  the story. This long book follows the Hollywood tradition of Black marries Black, White marries White and the Good Guys Win.

2. Hidden Zionist agenda. The words “Zionism” or “Zionist” do not appear in this 554 page novel,  the word “Israel” or “Israeli” appears 4 times (pages 332 and 333) and the word “Palestinians” occurs once (page 332). However the unspoken thrust is that race-based crimes committed against African Americans mirror those against the Jews (true), that some anti-racist Jews were on the side of African-Americans in the fight for civil rights (true), that Jews and African Americans are all on the same anti-racist side today (egregiously false because Zionism in horrible reality is genocidal racism as revealed by the ongoing  Palestinian Holocaust and Palestinian Genocide)  and hence the importance in the story of establishing that African American troops had been present at the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp (this otherwise being no more relevant than African American participation as Second Class citizens in the liberation of Europe as a whole ).  This “aren’t we nice” story about violent racism of the past re-writes history in ignoring the violent racism of the present, the continuing gross abuse of Palestinian human rights by racist Zionist-run Apartheid  Israel and the gross abuse of African American civil rights in present-day Neocon  American and Zionist Imperialist  (NAZI)-dominated United States that has been engaged in a 2-decade Zionist-backed War on Muslims (12 million dead so far from violence or from war-imposed deprivation; Google  “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide”) . Indeed no less than the Jewish Holocaust survivor, investor and  outstanding philanthropist, Jewish Hungarian American George Soros, has called for the “de-Nazification of America” (see “George Soros urges Bush America "de-Nazification" after removal of war criminal Bush regime”, Bellaciao, 21 February 2007). Nevertheless the Zionist agenda does surface obliquely in several places as outlined below.

Thus on pages 141-142: Charles McCray  tells his  father William about MEALAC (the Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture Department): “There’ve been complaints from students – complaints of harassment … of anti-Semitism. Jewish students have reported being harassed.” “By other students?” “No, by faculty”.

Perhaps the faculty has suggested that Zionism is genocidal racism? Thus one should note the words of  outstanding Jewish American scholar Professor Bertell Ollman of New York University: “Furthermore, if Zionism is indeed a particularly virulent form of nationalism and, increasingly, of racism and if Israel is acting toward its captive minority in ways that resemble more and more how the Nazis treated their Jews, then we must also say so. For obvious reasons, the Zionists are very sensitive about being compared to the Nazis (not so sensitive that it has restrained them in their actions but enough to bellow "unfair" and to charge "anti-Semitism" when it happens). Yet, the facts on the ground, when not obscured by one or another Zionist rationalization, show that the Zionists are the worst anti-Semites in the world today, oppressing a Semitic people as no nation has done since the Nazis. No, the Zionists are not yet quite as bad as the Nazis, not yet, but isn't the world witnessing a creeping ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians at this very moment? If Zionists (and their supporters) find this comparison unduly insulting and unjust, they have only to stop what they are doing (and supporting), but I fear that the logic of their position will only drive them to committing (and supporting) even greater atrocities in the future, including genocide—another Nazi specialty, than they have up to now. What, if anything, has such Zionism got to do with traditional Jewish values?” (see Bertell Ollman’s “Letter of Resignation from the Jewish People” ).

Pages  331-334 reveal the heart of this inexplicit “aren’t we nice” Zionist agenda. William McCray protests the invitation of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Columbia University by President Bollinger, reviling the Iranian president as “Hitler” to which his son Charles replies; “Well he’s not Hitler … What do you want me to say, Dad. It’s a university. If diversity of opinion and free speech isn’t welcome here...” Father William replies “If you had a colleague on faculty who blatantly falsified history and propagated manifest falsehoods, would you encourage it or not object on the grounds of diversity of opinion  or free speech?”. Charles concedes “Dad of course you’re right … at least this one’s not my fight” but father William rejoins “No! Not your fight, huh? Well, I don’t remember Jim Crow being Jake Zignelik’s fight either. And I don’t remember the “Freedom Summer” being Andrew Goodman’s or Michael Schwerner’s fight either”  (this referring to 2 Jewish  American civil rights activists murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.). This argument leads to the following exchange that is at the heart of the “aren’t we nice” Zionist agenda of the novel: “Oh God, Schwerner and Goodman again! Dad, I have a lot of Jewish friends, just as you always have had, but I have to tell you, I don’t always  agree with everything Israel does.” “Who does? Find me a Jew or even an Israeli who does. We’re talking about Ahmadinejad being given a platform at your university to spread hate and fear. This man denies the Holocaust happened but promises to deliver a brand new Holocaust of his own making as soon as he gets nuclear weapons. This man is not looking to promote a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute. This man is not looking out for the Palestinians. He’s using them for his  own political ends. The man is talking hate, pure and simple. It’s good old-fashioned hate. What does Bollinger think he’s doing?” “Dad, not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism.” “No, you’re definitely right there, not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. But none of it should be.  And while you permit that part of it that is, you’re just a coward or an anti-Semite … or both.”

This Zionist propaganda and call for censorship of anti-Zionist opinion is seen in a different light when you consult “Full transcript of President Ahmadinejad speech at Columbia University” and read President Ahmadinejad’s  comments about nuclear weapons: “Our nuclear program, first and foremost, operates within the framework of law, and second, under the inspections of the IAEA, and thirdly, they are completely peaceful. The technology we have is for enrichment below the level of 5 percent level, and any level below 5 percent is solely for providing fuel to power plants. Repeated reports by the IAEA explicitly say that there is no indication that Iran has deviated from the peaceful path of its nuclear program. We're all well aware that Iran's nuclear issue is a political issue; it's not a legal issue”. In answer to the question “Do you or your government seek the destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish state?” Ahmadinejad states “We love all nations. We are friends with the Jewish people. There are many Jews in Iran living peacefully with security. You must understand that in our constitution, in our laws, in the parliamentary elections, for every 150,000 people we get one representative in the parliament. For the Jewish community, one-fifth of this number they still get one independent representative in the parliament. So our proposal to the Palestinian plight is a humanitarian and democratic proposal. What we say is that to solve the 60-year problem we must allow the Palestinian people to decide about its future for itself. This is compatible with the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations and the fundamental principles enshrined in it. We must allow Jewish Palestinians, Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians to determine their own fate themselves through a free referendum. Whatever they choose as a nation everybody should accept and respect. Nobody should interfere in the affairs of the Palestinian nation. Nobody should sow the seeds of discord. Nobody should spend tens of billions of dollars equipping and arming one group there. We say allow the Palestinian nation to decide its own future, to have the right to self-determination for itself. This is what we are saying as the Iranian nation” (applause).

This is what President Ahmadinejad said about the Jewish Holocaust at Columbia University: “My first question was, if, given that the Holocaust is a present reality of our time, a history that occurred, why is there not sufficient research that can approach the topic from different perspectives? Our friends refer to 1930 as the point of the departure for this development; however, I believe the Holocaust, from what we read, happened during World War II after 1930 in the 1940s. So, you know, we have to really be able to trace the event. My question was simple. There are researchers who want to push the topic from a different perspective. Why are they put into prison? Right now there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust, so researchers from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it -- my question is, why isn't it open to all forms of research? I have been told that there's been enough research on the topic. And I ask, well, when it comes to topics such as freedom, topics such as democracy, concepts and norms such as God, religion, physics even or chemistry, there's been a lot of research, but we still continue more research on those topics. We encourage it. But then why don't we encourage more research on a historical event that has become the root, the cause of many heavy catastrophes in the region in this time and age? Why shouldn't there be more research about the root causes? That was my first question. And my second question -- well, given this historical event, if it is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinian people had no role to play in it. So why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price of an event they had nothing to do with? The Palestinian people didn't commit any crime. They had no role to play in World War II. They were living with the Jewish communities and the Christian communities in peace at the time. They didn't have any problems. And today, too, Jews, Christians and Muslims live in brotherhood all over the world, in many parts of the world. They don't have any serious problems. But why is it that the Palestinians should pay a price, innocent Palestinians? For 5 million people to remain displaced or refugees of war for 60 years are -- is this not a crime? Is asking about these crimes a crime by itself? Why should an academic, myself, face insults when asking questions like this? Is this what you call freedom and upholding the freedom of thought?”

The call  in “The Street Sweeper” for censorship of anti-Zionist opinion reflects the horrible reality in the Zionist subverted Western democracies in which racist Zionists have successfully sidelined anti-Zionist opinion through the utterly false allegations that it is “hate” and “anti-Semitism” or that it is coming from “self-hating Jews” when enunciated by  anti-racist Jews. Only a dozen of my family survived the Jewish Holocaust in Hungary in 1944-1945. For anti-racist Jews and indeed all anti-racist humanitarians the core moral messages from the Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and from the more general WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slav, Jewish and Gypsy dead) are “zero tolerance for racism”, “never again to anyone”, “bear witness” and “zero tolerance for lying”.  However evidently for criticizing the war and occupation policies of Apartheid Israel and Zionist-beholden America,  I have  been repeatedly censored and finally completely banned from commenting by the Australian taxpayer-funded ABC Late Night Live (LNL) program and by the Australian Government-funded, universities-backed and academic-based web magazine The Conversation (Google  “Censorship by The Conversation” ; and “Censorship by ABC Late Night Live” ; “ABC Censorship”).

3. Faction versus fiction. The Zionist diatribe from William McCray in his argument with his son reminds one of the “debate” between a Zionist Jew and an anti-racist Jew in Howard Jacobsen’s least funny book “The Finkler Question” in which pro-Zionist Jacobsen disgracefully mocks the anti-racist Jews who object to the gross abuse of the Palestinians by the racist Zionists running Apartheid Israel. Therein lie serious problems of writing “faction” such as “The Street Sweeper” – author bias, use of “fictional” characters to say things fitting  the author’s agenda and perversion of history by omission (leaving things out) or commission (making things up). A recent example of faction is the novel “War & Peace and Sonia” by Australian writer Judith Armstrong that is littered with ostensible quotations from the diaries  of Leo Tolstoy’s wife Sofya (known as Sonya) – however, a final Author’s Note includes the following indecipherable assertion: “The quotations in the text of my novel are my own except in a very few cases when the original was unavailable”. The  central incorrectness of   “The Sweeper” is that it claims to be about “the Holocaust” whereas the Jewish Holocaust  (the killing of 5-6 million Jews, 1 in 6 dying from, deprivation; see Martin Gilbert, “Atlas of the Holocaust”) was an appalling part of an even more appalling reality of the European Holocaust (30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies killed) and of the “forgotten” WW2 Asian Theatre Holocaust involving the deaths of 35 million Chinese under the Japanese and the deliberate, Australian-complicit starving to death of 6-7 million Indians  by the British in 1942-1945.  Indeed the latter atrocity, the Bengali Holocaust,  was the first WW2 atrocity to have been described as a “holocaust” (in 1944 by Indian N.G. Jog in his book “Churchill’s Blind –Spot: India”; see Gideon Polya’s book  “Jane Austen and the Black Hole for British History” that is now available free on the Web). Indeed of the Jews those who perished in the Jewish Holocaust many from Western Europe, cities and notably  from Hungary in particular would have been secular, converts to Christianity or Christians of Jewish origin, realities not apparent from “The Street Sweeper”.

Faction versus fiction is a real problem today in the Mainstream media of neocon- and Zionist-subverted Western democracies that have become Murdochracies (Big Money buys public perception of reality and votes) and Lobbyocracies (Big Money buys politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and votes). Thus on page 383, Charles McCray returns home and “He looked down at the newspaper and, still standing, started to read. The headline always calls first: “Turks Angry Over House Armenian Genocide Vote. Turkey reacted angrily Thursday to a House committee vote in Washington to condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey that began during World War I … The Bush Administration … vowed to defeat the resolution on Capitol Hill.” Missing from this snippet is the obscene reality that the Zionist Lobby and Apartheid Israel both reject the reality of the Armenian Holocaust as genocide and succeeded in getting the Bush Administration and later in 2010 the Obama Administration to block adoption of the Armenian Genocide position by Congress.

For anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish people alike, the fundamental moral imperatives from the WW2 Holocaust (from which only a dozen of my family survived) are “zero tolerance for racism”, ”zero tolerance for lying”, “bear witness” and “never again to anyone”. Anti-racist Jews (and indeed all anti-racists) are obliged to follow this moral imperative and bear witness about  the ongoing Palestinian Genocide by Apartheid Israel (since 1936 about 0.1 million violent Palestinian deaths and 1.9 million avoidable Palestinian deaths from war-, occupation- and expulsion-imposed deprivation;  90% of Palestine ethnically cleansed;  7 million refugees; only 6% of 12 million Palestinians permitted to vote for  the government ruling all of Palestine plus the largely ethnically cleansed Syrian Golan Heights; 6 million Palestinians forbidden to even live in Palestine; 800,000 children, 10% stunted from the Israeli-imposed blockade, highly abusively imprisoned without charge or trial in what the Catholic Church has described as the Gaza Concentration Camp for the asserted “crime” of being Indigenous Palestinians living in a tiny patch of the land continuously inhabited by their forebears for millennia back to the very dawn of agrarian civilization; Google “Palestinian Genocide”). Anti-racist Jews (and indeed all anti-racists) are obliged to follow these  Jewish Holocaust-derived moral imperatives and bear witness about  the 12 million dead from violence or war-imposed deprivation in the post-1990, Zionist-backed US War on Muslims (Google “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide”). In a novel dealing with a grand sweep of history over the 20th and 21st centuries and dealing with the Jewish Holocaust, there is no mention (violence- and deprivation-related war-related deaths and refugees in parentheses) of the Zionist-backed Palestinian Holocaust and Palestinian Genocide (2.0 million deaths since 1936, 7 million refugees) , Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide (4.6 million deaths since 1990, 5-6 million refugees), Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide (5.6 million deaths since 2001, 3-4 million refugees), Somali Holocaust and Somali Genocide (2.2 million deaths since 1992, 2 million refugees), and Libyan Genocide (0.1 million deaths since 2011, 1.3 million mostly Black Libyan refugees) (Google  “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide” ). Yet the silence is deafening in the racist Zionist-subverted West. So much for “Tell everyone what happened here”.

A glaring bit of abuse  by “faction”  was the central character of Henry Border who in the novel has written a book entitled “I did not Interview the Dead”. However this is based on the actuality of a book “I did not Interview the Dead” (University of Illinois Press, 1949) which, as one learns from Amazon,  was written by ”David Boder (1886- 1961) then Professor of Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, one of his specialties was the nature of trauma. In 1946 he travelled to Europe using state of the art recording facilities provided by the Institute. He became the first person to record interviews with the survivors of the Holocaust when the tragic events were still of recent memory and he is a highly regarded primary source in the subject. He collected 120 hours of testimony using a wire recorder developed by his colleague Dr Marvin Camras”. It should be noted that Elliott Perlman’s very lengthy but very readable previous novel "Seven Types of Ambiguity" took its title directly from William Empson’s  "Seven Types of Ambiguity", an influential 1930 book about literary criticism that launched the New Criticism school.   

4. African American realities in Neocon- and Zionist-dominated America. The “faction” of “The Street Sweeper” largely ignores present-day  African American realities in neocon- and Zionist-dominated America. According to Gary Younge in the UK Guardian (2012): “One in three African-American boys born in 2001 stands a lifetime risk of going to jail, according to the American Leadership Forum. In 2007, one in every 15 black children had a parent in prison. According to Ohio State University law professor and author Michelle Alexander, there are more African-American men in prison, on probation or on parole in the US now than there were enslaved in 1850. Alexander also calculates that because felons lose the right to vote, more African-American men were disenfranchised in 2004 than in 1870, the year male franchise was secured. There are now roughly the same numbers of black men in American prisons as the populations of Glasgow and Derby combined. Black women are seven times more likely than white women to be in prison. Almost one in 10 young black men are behind bars” (see Gary Younge, “For too many African Americans, prison is a legacy passed from father to son”, Guardian , 15 January 2012 ).

According  to Michelle Alexander, author of the bestselling book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”  (The New Press, 2010): “Most people don’t like it when I say this.  It makes them angry.  In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved beyond” race.  Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:*There are more African American adults under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery.  The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life.  (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing under caste -- not class, caste -- permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status.  They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.” (see  Michelle Alexander, “How the war on drugs gave rise to a permanent American under caste”, Southern Cross Review). Thus today only about 20% of African American men can vote in Chicago under Zionist Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (whose father was a member of the racist Zionist Irgun terrorist group that killed Allied servicemen before, during and after WW2 and which spearheaded the Palestinian Genocide involving 2 million Palestinian deaths, 7 million refugees, and 90% ethnic cleansing of Palestine) - however, by way of comparison, only 6% of 12 million Palestinians can vote for the government ruling all of Palestine plus an ethnically cleansed slab of Syria.

Summary

“The Street Sweeper “by Elliot Perlman is an easily read middle-brow novel but falls short as a work of faction, fiction that claims to be based on fact. Writing about the atrocities committed against African Americans and atrocities committed in the Jewish Holocaust is meritorious – as Auschwitz heroine Rosa cries from the scaffold:”Tell everyone what happened here! Tell everyone! Tell everyone!” However there is a lot that is not being told in Perlman’s work of faction and therein lies the profound weakness of a book that has a carefully subdued, aren’t-we-nice, pro-Zionist agenda. History ignored yields history repeated. The crucial dilemmas presently facing anti-racist Jewish Americans – and indeed all anti-racist Americans - are gross inequities that have devastated not just the African American community but also America as a whole. This century 1 million Americans have died preventably each year while successive neocon- and Zionist -beholden Administrations have committed $5 trillion to the US War on Muslims in which 12 million people have perished from violence or war-imposed  deprivation since 1990 (Google  “One Million Americans Die”).  Elliot Perlman’s novel of unbelievable coincidences has failed to see horrendous present day racism realities and has thus failed to “Tell everyone what happened here”.


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