NEW YORK (Jul. 10)
The widening gap between Negroes and Jews was deplored here today by Dr. John Slawson, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee. He urged that the gap be closed lest it lead to a weakening of America’s liberal coalition.
Dr. Slawson was one of four participants in a discussion on “Anti-Semitism and the Negro” conducted on the “Open Mind” television program over WNBC-TV. “I urge that the friendship between Jew and Negro be restored,” he said. “If it is not restored, this is going to weaken the entire liberal movement, and it is going to be bad for the Negroes and bad for the Jews and bad for America.”
Joining with Dr. Slawson on the program, which was moderated by Dr. Eric Goldman, Professor of History at Princeton, were Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; Dr. Alex Rosen, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work of New York University, and Bayard Rustin, executive director of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.
This liberal coalition — representing, among others, church groups, labor, students, and minority groups — had, according to Mr. Rustin, a Negro leader, been responsible for the success of the 1963 “March on Washington,” which he organized, and for passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, and the Voting Rights Bill of 1965. “As the war on poverty must be increased,” he said, “It can be increased only if those same forces, including Catholics, Jews, labor people, students, and others continue.”
Discussing the question of increased Negro hostility toward Jews — a point on which there was general agreement that it existed–Dr. Clark, a Negro educator said: “I think what we are witnessing may be a different form, a different expression of anti-Semitism. In the 1940s I think the problems of Negroes and Jews seemed to be largely in the area of employment. Today the problems involve more complex and subtle aspects of relationships, rather than the specific concrete areas of difficulties of 20 years ago.”
YOUNG NEGROES SEEK PROFESSIONS HELD BY JEWS; RIVALRY SEEN
Dr. Rosen, said there are the young Negroes since World War II who have moved into the race for professions, who are now schoolteachers or social workers, government officials, inter-group relations experts, and so on. “They are moving into the professions which for historical reasons Jews seemed to have preempted,” Dr. Rosen pointed out. “There is a bit of rivalry, of competition for the good things in life or for prominence in these various professions.”
Dr. Slawson, explaining that prejudice and discrimination are “irrational,” said: “We all know that the Jew has been a very convenient target for the white Christian, and the Jew is a very convenient target for the Negro Christian in the ghetto. It is a particularized kind of target. Even if we eliminate all the landlords and all the merchants, you still would have Negro anti-Semitism. We always walk a treadmill when we try to attribute anti-Semitism to the prejudice of the victim. It is the fault of the bigot.”
To Dr. Slawson’s question, “Why is there such great resentment on the part,” of the Negro civil rights leadership that Jews are in the civil rights movement?” Mr. Rustin answered: “Nobody appreciates more than I do the great work Jews have done in this field. I know you built schools and libraries and helped us when no one else would, but there comes a time when every person has to face what A. Phillip Randolph said. Unless the minority that is being persecuted stands up, takes the leadership, and says, ‘We want now to take the leadership for ourselves no matter how badly we do it’ –until that happens, nobody will take him seriously.”
Dr. Slawson commented: “I happen to know a number of Jews all over the United States who are angry at the fact that their helpfulness not only is not appreciated but resented. There is no feeling of welcome, and the leadership of both groups have got to get together and work things out.