NEW YORK (Jun. 9)
Shlomo Katz, editor of Midstream, the “monthly Jewish review” published here by the Theodor Herzl Foundation, charged today that the “David Frost Show” had “submitted” to the “dictation” of black writer James Baldwin in dropping him from yesterday’s taping of the syndicated television talk show. He had been invited, Katz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to participate with Baldwin and anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead in a discussion of “A Rap On Race,” a new book consisting of a transcript of a conversation-debate between Baldwin and Dr. Mead. Two minutes before the taping, Katz said, he was informed by a production aide that “Mr. Baldwin says ‘I will not discuss this subject with him.'” The 62-year-old Katz, editor of Midstream since 1955, charged that the Frost show staff had been “dictated to” by Baldwin. The development, said Katz, represented “gagging of a panelist by James Baldwin and submission by the ‘David Frost Show.'” Katz, who said he would file a formal complaint with the producers of the program, added: “It was not a proud moment. I was humiliated.”
Katz attributed Baldwin’s seeming reluctance to appear with him to a recent public debate between the two on Jewish commitment to the cause of black militancy. In an article in the New York Review of Books addressed to “my sister, Angela Davis,” the black militant and Marxist charged with complicity in a multiple murder in California. Baldwin told her: “You are as alone as the Jewish housewife in a boxcar headed for Dachau,” In the April issue of Midstream, Katz challenged Baldwin’s comparison of the Jewish fate in the Nazi Holocaust with the situation of Miss Davis and other American black militants. Katz’s “open letter” was in turn reprinted in the New York Review, and Baldwin’s rebuttal to it will appear in the next issue of Midstream. Katz noted that in “A Rap On Race,” Baldwin said that “the creation of the State of Israel was one of the most cynical achievements–really murderous, merciless, ugliest and cynical achievements on the part of the Western nations,” who he said took it on themselves to give Jews that part of Palestine now called Israel.
“You have got to remember,” the American expatriate writer continued, “however bitter this may sound, no matter how bitter I may sound, that I have been, in America, the Arab at the hands of the Jews.” Dr. Mead replied: “Oh, fiddlesticks’ Just fiddlesticks! You are now making a totally racist comment just because there have been a number of Jewish shopkeepers in Harlem.” A spokesman for Peter Baker, producer of the Frost series, said Katz had been invited several days ago to debate Baldwin in the “later stages” of the discussion. As a courtesy to Baldwin, the spokesman continued, he was called to be informed of Katz’s booking, but could not be reached until half an hour before yesterday evening’s taping. Baldwin, said the production spokesman, said he had not been given enough time to prepare for a televised dialogue with Katz, and the editor was thus advised he would not be on the show. Another executive at the Frost show said Baldwin’s comment was not hostile, and that in fact he indicated a willingness to debate Katz on another day. The executive called the entire matter “an unfortunate mistake.” The Frost episode taped yesterday will be telecast July 1. In the half-hour exchange between Baldwin and Dr. Mead, producer Baker’s aide said, there was no mention of black-Jewish relations.