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Jewish Congress Leader Reports Progress in Negro-jewish Cooperation

Mounting public concern over black power and the white backlash has obscured quiet but genuine progress toward Negro-Jewish cooperation and understanding, the American Jewish Congress reported today.

Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the AJ Congress, addressing the policy-making National Governing Council of the organization, said: “More Jews and Negroes are working together on common projects to meet common needs than at any time in our nation’s history.” He described Negro-Jewish cooperation as a “two-way street.” He noted that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bayard Rustin, Negro rights leaders, had spoken out “eloquently and vigorously” in protesting cultural and religious discrimination against the Jews of the Soviet Union.

Rabbi Lelyveld said he recognized that anti-Semitism exists among Negroes. But he added: “Far stronger than Negro resentment against Jews is Negro identification with the Jewish people: not only with the Jew as victim of anti-Semitism but with the Jew as triumphant battler against the corrosion of victimization.”

“Negro anti-Semitism cannot be blinked or disregarded or swept under the rug, lest the Jewish community abandon all self-respect, and the respect of others,” he continued. “At the same time, we must be aware of the danger that some persons may seize on Negro anti-Semitism as an excuse to refrain from participating in the great struggle for racial equality, a struggle which is not a Negro struggle alone but an American struggle. The American Jewish Congress rejects such a course. Our commitment to the cause of civil rights and our involvement in the battle for racial justice remain undiminished.”

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