In June, on CNN, Minister Louis Farrakhan, no longer smiling, lashed out at Jews, adding that he had no reason to apologize to them for what they are. Long before Farrakhan was named by Time magazine, also in June, as one of the 25 most influential Americans, I asked a friend, Bayard Rustin -- a strategist for Martin Luther King -- why there was such bitter antisemitism among some blacks.

"It's not theological," Bayard said. "You're not being accused of killing Christ."

He was concerned, but had no further answer. Recently I read an analysis by Clarence Page -- a continually illuminating syndicated black columnist -- in the Forward, a lively New York Jewish weekly. Page cited James Baldwin, who wrote, "Blacks are antisemitic because they're anti-white." Moreover, says Page, "Bal\dwin explained that blacks have watched Jews assimilate into mainstream white America quite rapidly compared to black folks, and many of us feel left behind, resentful."

Obviously, nothing in the American experience compares in any way to the holocaust of the Middle Passage and the terrors of slavery. But for Jews, there were certain badges of exclusion.

As a child in Boston, a cradle of abolitionism, it was foolish of me to go out alone after dark and become prey to violent bands of roving Christian youngsters whose most satisfying sport was to break the faces of Jews. One boy on my street got an ice pick in his head and was never the same afterward. I received only a busted nose ("You Jewish, kid?") and a lot of blood on my clothes. One of my more vivid boybood memories is of an old, bony Jew grabbed by his beard and thrown into the gutter by an invading hooligan -- like the newsreels from Berlin.

Assimilation of Jews was not as rapid as James Baldwin thought. For a long time, there were areas of work largely closed to Jews -- engineering, architecture, insurance companies, mainstream banks and corporate law firms. And there were jobs where Jews had to change their names because their own names were too Jewish -- some public schools and radio stations, for instance.

In any case, if, as James Baldwin said, blacks are antisemitic because they're anti-white, why the continuing obsession with only Jews? The Irish have come a long way from the rental signs in Boston: "No Dogs or Irish Need Apply." Why are WASPs given a pass?

I think I may have finally come to an understanding of black antisemitism. As Bayard Rustin said, it is not based in theology. But, revealingly, copies of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" -- a classic 19th-century tract about a worldwide Jewish conspiracy -- were sold years ago at a Harlem mosque of the Nation of Islam. And the shadowy "Protocols" have also been referred to with enthusiasm in some black college newspapers.

Moreover, there are strong resemblances between the historical antisemitism of Father Charles E. Coughlin and that of Minister Farrakhan. Coughlin had a weekly paper, Social Justice, which gave preferred space to the "Protocols" and also printed Coughlin's own homilies of hate, which he included in his very popular national radio programs.

Along with my parents, I listened to those broadcasts every Sunday. We did not feel assimilated. The mellifluous priest from the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Mich., said he had discovered that the international Communists -- and the international bankers depriving widows of their mites -- had one vicious thing in common. They were all Jews.

In a remarkable multi-dimensional April profile of Minister Farrakhan in the New Yorker, Henry Louis Gates tells of Farrakhan's speech\es "in which he has talked about a centuries-old conspiracy of international bankers -- with names like Rothschild and Warburg -- who have captured control over the central banks in many countries and who incite wars to increase the indebtedness of others and maximize their own wealth. . . . Farrakhan really does believe that a cabal of Jews secretly controls the world."

Gates adds that Farrakhan also believes that "there is a small group of Jews who meet in a Park Avenue apartment or in Hollywood to plan the course of {this} nation."

Minster Farrakhan has cemented the Nation of Islam's hatred of Jews into deeply traditional white antisemitism. He has, at last, found a common ground with many whites.