ADL Says Billing’s Response to Charge of Anti-semitism is Empty Disclaimer

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has termed David Billing Ill’s published response to the ADL’s charge of anti-Semitism an “empty, unresponsive disclaimer” which is “totally inadequate and unconvincing.” The ADL charged last week that Billings, chairman of the New York City Council Against Poverty, made anti-Semitic remarks last Tuesday on the WNYC radio program “Action Interview,” a program on the city-owned station, and asked Mayor John V. Lindsay to remove him from office.

Billings told the radio audience that opponents of the controversial 840-unit low-income project in Forest Hills “happens to be an influential group religiously.” He added that “many of them control the school system of that religious origin; many of them control the press and the mass media of that religious origin.”

Billings was privately reprimanded by Lindsay who told the CAP official that many of his radio remarks were “plainly offensive to members of the Jewish community of the city and Indeed to many of our citizens, including me.” Lindsay’s private reprimand came just before the Mayor swore in Billings to his third one-year term as CAP Chairman. After Billings was reprimanded, the CAP official said he was not referring “to the Jewish community” and that he did not consider the housing project dispute a “Jewish-Black groups thing.”

Milton A. Seymour, chairman of the ADL’s New York Board, asked for a meeting with Walter Rothschild, chairman of the N.Y. Urban Coalition. Billings is the Coalition’s representative to the Council Against Poverty. Noting that Billings had disclaimed any anti-Semitic intent, Seymour said that the CAP chairman has “not seen fit to actually retract any of his outrageous charges that the Jewish community exercises a tentacle-like control on the life of our city.” “Worse still,” said Seymour, “is Billings’ transparent denial that he was attacking the Jewish community in the charges he made in the radio interview.”

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