NEW YORK (Sep. 7)
Leonard DeChamps, chairman of the Harlem Chapter of CORE, said today that he “totally dissociates” himself from leaflets circulated by a black group demanding the ouster of a white doctor from the Harlem Hospital staff because he was a “Zionist” and a “racist.” But DeChamps told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that CORE continues to press for the dismissal of Dr. Frank Lewkowitz because he allegedly “insulted” the black community and therefore “has no place” in the hospital. According to DeChamps, the 26-year-old first-year resident physician “spat” on a black woman dietician during an altercation in the hospital cafeteria on Aug. 13 and “assaulted” a black man who came to her aid.
The charges against Dr. Lewkowitz were dismissed by the hospital’s executive director, Elliott C. Roberts, following a hearing at which both sides were represented. Roberts told the JTA today that his decision “stands” and that he considers the matter a “mute issue.” Dr. Lewkowitz is on paid leave and could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Michael J. Horowitz, told the JTA that his leave was voluntary, “not because of any threats.” He said Dr. Lewkowitz was free to return to the hospital any time but wanted “to think it over.” Horowitz said “the case is at an end.”
Circulation in the hospital of leaflets describing Dr. Lewkowitz as a “racist” and “Zionist” brought a demand today from the American Jewish Congress that the city’s Human Rights Commission investigate the matter to “determine whether any persons on the staff of Harlem Hospital bear responsibility for the distribution of racist literature and whether pressure is being placed on the hospital administration to dismiss Dr. Lewkowitz on the ground that he is ‘Zionist,’ or more plainly because he is Jewish.” In a letter to Commission chairman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Theodore J. Kolish, chairman of the AJCongress’ Metropolitan Council observed that “What racism there may be is manifestly that of The Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of Harlem,” the group charged with distributing the leaflets.
TRANSFER OF DOCTOR SOUGHT
Roberts told the JTA that the leaflets appeared in the hospital only once, on a day about two weeks ago when seven person, including DeChamps were arrested after “sitting down” in the hospital record room. He said that since that incident nothing further has been mentioned to him of the Lewkowitz matter and that there did not appear to him to be any widespread interest in the case in the Harlem community. He said that as far as he knew the “Concerned Citizens” organization was a recently formed group numbering a handful of people. DeChamps told the JTA that he never heard of the organization until the Lewkowitz incident and that their leaflets were “totally unnecessary” and a “feeble attempt to misdirect the issue.”
He said the issue was not whether Dr. Lewkowitz was black or white or Jewish but that he had insulted the community and aroused tensions and should be transferred. He acknowledged that Dr. Lewkowitz denied the charges against him but insisted that even if his alleged act was not deliberate, “the damage has been done.” DeChamps criticized Roberts’ ruling in the case. But he said he was “very happy” that Mrs. Norton has been brought into the picture and was sure that she will “resolve the situation.” Asked if CORE would drop its efforts to have Dr. Lewkowitz fired if Mrs. Norton found him innocent, DeChamps declined to comment. Roberts told the JTA that there were 215 doctors on the hospital’s house staff of whom about ten percent were black and the rest white or of “foreign extraction.” He couldn’t say how many residents were Jewish but believed that a “substantial number” were Jews.