Bitterness Between New York’s Negro, Jewish Communities Deepens with New Incidents
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Bitterness Between New York’s Negro, Jewish Communities Deepens with New Incidents

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Growing bitterness between the Jewish and Negro communities here deepened over the weekend with two new manifestations of Black anti-Semitic feelings and bitter reactions to them by Jewish organizations. The latest confrontation occurred as a special committee appointed by Mayor John V. Lindsay reported the emergence of “a dangerous component of anti-Semitism” in the recent New York City teachers’ strike which pitted Negro advocates of community control of public schools against the Jewish-led, largely Jewish United Federation of Teachers. The Mayor’s committee, headed by Bernard Botein, former presiding judge of the appellate division of the State Supreme Court, said it found evidence of “vicious anti-white attitudes on the part of some black people and vicious anti-black attitudes on the part of some white people.” A new conflict developed Friday over an introduction to the official catalogue of a new exhibition of art in Harlem which opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a city institution. Mayor Lindsay denounced the introduction as “racist.” saying it contained offensive references to Jews, Irish and Puerto Ricans. Demands that it be withdrawn were made by the American Jewish Congress, anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Workmen’s Circle and the Jewish Labor Committee. The American Jewish Committee praised Mayor Lindsay’s condemnation of the piece. But Thomas P.F. Hoving, museum director and former city parks commissioner, declined to withdraw it because he felt it was neither racist, bigoted nor slanderous. A disclaimer of any racial intent was however inserted into soft-cover copies of the catalogue on sale in the museum. Robert L. Bernstein, president of Random House, publisher of the hard-cover edition, rejected the Mayor’s request for withdrawal and said the book, “taken as a whole is a responsible document which will contribute to the understanding of a difficult problem.”

The controversial introduction was written two years ago by Candice Van Ellison, a Negro girl then 16 and a student at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx. It suggested, according to Mayor Lindsay, that “black Americans have joined a national majority not by their efforts for justice and dignity but through anti-Semitic feelings.” Miss Van Ellison, now a sophomore at Bridgeport University, wrote, “The already badly exploited black” was allowed “to be further exploited by Jews.” She alleged that “behind every hurdle that the Afro-American has yet to jump stands a Jew who has already cleared it.” Allon Schoener, of the State Council on the Arts, who was coordinator for the “Harlem on My Mind” exhibit and assembled the catalogue, said there was no attempt” “to provoke anti-Semitic feelings” and added that as “a member of the New York Jewish community” he felt that “the Jews must face the realities of the world in which we live.”

In another area of the city’s racial conflict, former Board of Education president Mrs. Rose Shapiro demanded that her successor, John Doar, dismiss a Negro public school teacher who read an anti-Semitic poem on a public subscription radio station broadcast Dec. 26. The teacher, Leslie R. Campbell, had been suspended on charges of harassing union teachers in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville experimental school district in Brooklyn during the teachers’ strike. He was reinstated afted a New York State panel found “insufficient evidence to warrant disciplinary action.” The poem, purportedly written by a 15-year-old Negro schoolboy, was read by Mr. Campbell on the Julius Lester program on WBAI-FM, Dedicated to Albert Shanker, teachers’ union president, it began with the verse, “You pale-faced Jew boy/ with that yarmulka on your head; you pale-faced Jew boy, I wish you were dead.” Mrs. Shapiro’s demand for the ouster of Mr. Campbell was echoed by the Council of Supervisory Associations, an organization of public school administrators, in telegrams to Dr. James E. Allen, the State Education Commissioner, and Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller. Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, made the same demand in a telegram to Mr. Doar. Mr. Lester, host of the weekly program, is field secretary of the militant Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He said he arranged for reading of the poem to demonstrate “what a lot of people don’t want to take seriously the strong and growing resentment of Jewish whites among ghetto blacks.”

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