Cleveland Federation, ‘jewish News’ Denounce Defense League Efforts to Begin Chapter

Announcement of plans for creation of a Cleveland area chapter of the militant Jewish Defense League was promptly denounced by the Community Relations Committee of the Cleveland Jewish Community Federation as a “misguided” and unneeded “intrusion into the community by outside forces.”

The Cleveland Jewish News called the plan “insolent, abrasive and outlandish” and said the proposed chapter “can only succeed in aggravating — perhaps even causing — the very turbulence it is supposed to quench.” The Federation statement added that “there is no need for the efforts of the Jewish Defense League to organize in Greater Cleveland.”

The editorial appeared in the same issue carrying a lengthy report on the organization meeting which was addressed by Rabbi Meir Kahane of Brooklyn, founder and head of the JDL. The meeting was arranged by Donald J. Kuby, an insurance agent, who announced he had been named Cleveland “district coordinator” for the JDL.

Rabbi Kahane insisted repeatedly that the organization was neither vigilante. racist nor organized to battle either blacks or whites — “we are here to fight anti-Semites.” He also told the mixed audience of 150 supporters and foes of the JDL that it had been formed “to teach self-defense” and use of political power to Jews. He again accused the Jewish “establishment” of unanimous condemnation of the JDL but asserted that rank-and-file Jews were receptive to his program.

The editorial said the “respectable Jewish organizations” assailed by the JDL “have unanimously rejected and repudiated the League and its hyperthyroid raison d’etre not because they love the Jewish people less, but because they know human relations more. In Cleveland, the community relations experience has been an intimate, intensive and highly effective story going back at least a quarter of a century.” In dealing with the Negro community, the editorial said. “we need no coaching from muscle men; the Jewish person who sits down with a Negro youth to teach him of his skills, to impart knowledge, does not need to be fortified by expertise in karate.”

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