NEW YORK (Oct. 29)
The Synagogue Council of America charged today that “irresponsible and reckless individuals” had exploited the tensions of the New York City school dispute and warned there was a danger that disputes in America’s major cities might “deteriorate into black-white and Negro-Jewish confrontations.”
In a policy statement endorsed by the national synagogue and rabbinic agencies of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Judaism, the SCA said exploitation of the school dispute issues to fan anti-Semitic and racial animosities was “poisoning the atmosphere of public discussion and striking at the roots of our existence as a community.” The statement asserted that the school controversy, in which public schools have been closed 24 out of 35 days since the fall term began, resulted from the clash of “legitimate interests. To dismiss the legitimate goals of the Teachers Union as motivated by anti-Negro racism is as false and immoral as to distort the legitimate interests of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville local board as anti-white racism or anti-Semitism,” the SCA said.
Rabbi Henry Siegman, SCA executive vice-president, said that the school dispute had assumed “implications” of national concern, adding that there were “genuine conflicts of interest that must be recognized for what they are before we can deal with them intelligently. Nothing would be more tragic than to have disputes that are bound to arise in New York and other major cities deteriorate into black-white and Negro-Jewish confrontations.” Deploring injection of anti-Semitic elements into the school conflict, the SCA urged responsible leaders in all segments of the community to condemn such tactics and to dissociate themselves from them.