NEW YORK (May. 18)
The militant Jewish Defense League was denounced yesterday by a Reform rabbinical leader as “in essence, no different” from the Ku Klux Klan and as a group which “violates every ethic and tradition of Judaism and every concept of civil liberties and democratic process in American life. Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Reform congregational body, made the charge in a report to the UAHC board of trustees which is holding its semi-annual three-day meeting.
Rabbi Eisendrath’s attack on the Jewish Defense League was the first from any Jewish organization. A number of League members gathered last week in front of Temple Emanu-El, armed with baseball bats and chains for an expected confrontation with James Forman of the National Black Economic Development Conference, which is demanding “reparations” from churches and synagogues of half a billion dollars. Forman did not appear at the Reform synagogue and its Rabbi Nathan A. Perilman, deplored the presence of the Defense League members.
Rabbi Eisendrath called the JDL members “batsmen” who were “spoiling to commit assault and battery, believing that had similar tactics been used by German Jews, the Holocaust might never have happened.” He added: “Jews carrying baseball bats and chains, standing in phalanxes, like goon squads, in front of synagogues, led by rabbis, are no less offensive and, in essence, no different from whites carrying robes and hoods, led by self-styled ministers of the gospel, standing in front of burning crosses.” He asserted that “neither Jews nor Christians nor America need such ‘protectors.’ If these be our friends, then God preserve us from our enemies.” He said that thus far, the League was limited to New York City “but in a climate of emotionalism, such vigilantism may grow.”