Prominent Black Americans Appeal to U.S. Government to Sell Planes to Israel

Black Americans, prominent in the fields of civil rights, trade unions, politics, mass media, government agencies and business, signed today an appeal for United States support to Israel. The appeal, sponsored by the A. Philip Randolph Institute and signed by 62 individuals, appeared in several newspapers including the New York Times and The Washington Post. The signers urged “the United States government to use its great influence to help bring the Israelis and the Arabs to the conference table where they can work out among themselves a just and negotiated settlement,” The appeal also urged the government “to take steps to help guarantee Israel’s right to exist as a nation. For the present this means providing Israel with the full number of jet aircraft it has requested.” The appeal noted that the crisis in the Middle East is a “cause of great concern to all Americans – non-Jew as well as Jew, black as well as white.” The concern of black Americans, the appeal continued, is motivated both by the threat to world peace which is posed by the Arab-Israeli conflict and by the awareness that Israel, “like any other nation, has its shortcoming, (but) it is by far the most democratic country in the Middle East.” It expressed concern with the plight of the impoverished Arabs and observed that the “income from oil has been used to sustain wealthy sheikdoms – and often terrorist organizations as well – but rarely to alleviate the suffering of the poor.”

The appeal observed that Israel, “with its impressive program of foreign technical aid, has contributed far more than any of its Arab enemies to the development of black African nations” and called attention to the “continuing brutal persecution of black Africans by the Sudanese government which…is militarily allied with and assisted by the Egyptian government. The appeal affirmed Israel’s right to exist “for the same reasons that we have struggled for freedom and equality in America.” It warned that the view expressed by some Americans “including a small minority of blacks” that the Middle East crisis is fundamentally “a racial conflict between nonwhite Arabs and white Israelis” is uninformed and “dangerously misleading.” The signers noted that this view also “ignores the fact that approximately half the Jewish Israeli population consists of immigrants from Asia and Africa, Among the signers of the appeal were: New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; New York State Senator Basil A. Paterson; Detroit Congressman Charles C. Diggs; Gary, Indiana Mayor Richard Hatcher; Cleveland, Ohio Mayor Carl Stokes; New York City Housing Authority Chairman Simon Golar; National Council of Negro Women President Dorothy Height; John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony, Jet, and Tan and Black World; and A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Bayard Rustin. Martin Luther King Sr., Roy Wilkins, and Whitney M. Young Jr.

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