NEW YORK (Apr. 4)
The anti-Semitism espoused by the Black Muslims against the Jews is not prevalent among the large part of the American Negro community, This observation was made by Roy Wilkins, executive secretary to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in an article in the current issue of American Judaism, the official publication of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Mr. Wilkins felt that misunderstanding and lack of adequate dialogue, rather than organized anti-Semitism, exists today between Jew and Negro in this country. “Both Negroes and Jews could improve their understanding of each other by employing more than a casual or surface approach,” he said. “The responsible elements in the Negro community which have to develop maturity in order to cope with their problems have no truck with anti-Semitism.” Mr. Wilkins observed that Negroes “are too occupied with fending off senseless hatred to become purveyors of it.”
Referring to recent anti-Semitic outbursts by the Black Muslims and their leaders, Mr. Wilkins said: “If Black Muslims appear to be anti-Semites in some of their utterances, this attitude is not that of the broad Negro community. Lack of understanding, snap “group” judgments, plain and ugly anti-Semitism, and a defiant arrogance are unhappy markings of a part of the Negro community. In their great hurt and in their blinding frustrations, Negroes–humanly–are receptive to scapegoatism. They listen to and repeat the pat phases of the anti-Semites among them and among some non-Jews with whom they come into contact.
“Anti-Semitism is not widespread among Negroes nor is it nourished and passed on as a working creed. More often than not it is a spite thing, used to assuage a particular failure or to spur a particular effort. It is not virulent and exists among relatively few Negroes. If this were not so, and if actual hatred of whites were not similarly limited, the Black Muslims would have millions of followers instead of thousands,” he continued.
AGREES WITH CONCERN OF JEWS; LAUDS JEWISH AID TO NEGRO CAUSE
Mr. Wilkins agreed with the concern expressed by the Jewish community and others about the extreme statements espoused by the Black Muslim movement. He praised the efforts of the organized Jewish community and many individual Jewish leaders for aiding the cause of the Negro in his fight for civil rights. “Certainly, since Negro citizens began an organized effort to secure their constitutional rights as Americans and to campaign for the elimination of bigotry and prejudice, they have had the sympathetic and very active assistance of Jews.”
Mr. Wilkins mentioned several Jewish lay and rabbinic leaders who helped organize the NAACF, and many others who are today active in the organization and as its legal counselors. He particularly cited the assistance of the Jewish community in the “very sensitive and difficult field of housing,” where he said the Jews themselves had suffered some disabilities, adding that “Jews have helped the Negro in his fight to escape from the ghetto.”
Negro Jewish relations also were involved in a charge by Adam Clayton Powell, New York Democrat who recently demanded that white leadership be eliminated from the NAACP, that the New York Times was opposed to his views. The Congressman, in an interview on WNEW, a New York radio station, said the Times opinion was “a white man’s opinion” and added that it was “unfortunate” that the Times was “biased when it’s owned and operated by a minority group.” He elaborated on his statement later by saying “I doubt whether the editors of the Times even go to their synagogues.”