NEW YORK (Jan. 5)
An editorial in the African-American Teachers Forum charging Jews with responsibility for "stifling" the education of black children was criticized today by the American Jewish Congress as a "vicious piece of racism that can serve only to debase any rational approach to the school problem." Shad Polier, chairman of the national governing council, noted that the magazine was the same publication that had "opened its columns last year to the malign ignorance of John F. Hatchett" and described the editorial as "an obvious and calculated attempt to stoke the fires of racial and religious tension that are already burning in our city." Mr. Hatchett became involved in controversy after writing in the magazine that Jewish teachers dominated the New York public school system and were mentally poisoning Negro pupils. This and other incidents led to his being fired by New York University as director of its Martin Luther King Jr. Afro-American Student Center.
"The inadequacies of the city school system," he said, "are acknowledged by men and women of all religions and races who are concerned with improving public education in New York. To charge that these inadequacies are the result of a specific policy and design by Jews is a disheartening example of extremist tactics and insults the great mass of Jews who are concerned about the very evils of racism, discrimination and the failure of our schools," Mr. Polier said. "I am confident that the Jewish community will not be deterred by this attack from the great effort that must be launched to strengthen and improve the education of all our children. We are equally confident that the black citizens of our city will reject this blatant appeal to bigotry," he said.
The Negro teachers’ magazine bitterly attacked the "Jewish dominated United Federation of Teachers" and the New York City Board of Examiners for allegedly preventing Negroes and Puerto Ricans from becoming teachers and principals and for keeping "our children ignorant." The African-American Teachers Forum, a bi-monthly publication, also charged in an editorial that "the Jew, our liberal friend of yesterday, whose cries of anguish still resound from the steppes of Russia to the tennis courts of Forest Hills, is now our exploiter." The magazine said "the time has come for a great responsible voice to speak up in the Jewish community. It is time to right these grave wrongs."
The African-American Teachers Forum said it is now fashionable not to criticize Jews "who have hidden behind the cloak of anti-Semitism as a broad shield against criticism." The editorial said, "Don’t tell us any more about the six million destroyed by Hitler. Tell us instead about the 12 million blacks slaughtered in 300 years of black genocide. The Jews have recovered and now prosper. We blacks…hampered by vicious laws, beaten by sadistic police, exploited by employers, landlords and merchants, still exist in the stiffling slums of our poverty-ridden ghettoes." The editorial specifically accused the Board of Examiners of systematically disqualifying Negro and Puerto Rican applicants for licenses as teachers and charged UFT president Albert Shanker with "racist diatribes" that "do a disservice to the entire Jewish community." A spokesman for the teachers’ union refused to answer the charge. Paul Denn, a member of the Board of Examiners, denied that discrimination existed. He pointed out that all applicants for licenses were assigned numbers and their identities were unknown until their examination papers were rated. The African-American Teachers Forum declared, "It is time to pour water on the growing fires of religious and racial hatreds in New York City by finally facing up to the truth; most Jewish teachers and administrators here have failed a grave public trust; They have kept us functionally illiterate."