Black Congressmen Defend Israel’s Right to Exist. Laud Its Support to African Nations; Answer to Gar

The Congressional Black Caucus today strongly defended Israel’s “right to existence” and warmly lauded the Jewish State’s support to “thirty Black African nations, from Burundi to Zambia.” In a powerfully worded statement signed by all of its 13 members in the House of Representatives, the Caucus declared that the “example set by the Jewish people in their long struggle to overcome oppression and to win freedom, from the time of Moses to the establishment of the State of Israel. has helped inspire Black people in this country to strive for self respect and dignity and to revive their own cultural heritage.”

The statement came eight days after the adoption in the waning moments of the historic Black Political Convention of March 12 in Gary, Ind. of a resolution which included phraseology calling for the dismantling of Israel. Chairman of the Caucus is Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio. It was understood that the statement was drafted by Rep. William Clay of Miss. All the Caucus members are Democrats. Besides Stokes and Clay, they are Mrs. Shirley Chisholm and Charles B. Rangel, N.Y.; George W. Collins and Ralph H. Metcalfe, ill; John Conyers Jr. and Charles C. Diggs Jr., Mich.; Ronald V. Dellums and Augustus F. Hawkins, Calif.; Walter Fantroy, District of Columbia; Parren J. Mitchell, Md.; and Robert N.C. Nix, Penn.

The JTA learned that the statement was prepared after questions had been raised on where the Black members of Congress stood in view of the Gary resolution. One source said that it was prepared so that there would be no misunderstanding of the Caucus’ position on Israel. Another said that the resolution had been pushed through the Gary convention in the ebbing hours without a majority voting for it. This source said that the Caucus members were not present at the time but had they been there would have been a floor fight in opposition to it.

However, JTA also was informed that Gary was not particularly relevant in this case. This is a position paper on Israel, one source said. He added that the statement is self-sufficient by itself. The important thing is that it was made and the Caucus is fully behind Israel. Those close to the statement itself said that they did not wish to be quoted since their words may have a tendency to alter its meaning.

ISRAEL AN INSPIRATION TO BLACK PEOPLE

The 300 word statement of the Black Caucus said in part: “As the Black elected representatives to the US Congress we reaffirm our position that we fully respect the right of the Jewish people to have their own State in their historic national homeland. We vigorously oppose the efforts of any group that would seek to weaken or undermine Israel’s right to existence….The American people, including Black Americans, have cherished the friendship of both the peoples of Israel and the Arab states. Our government, reflecting that friendship, has sought to promote an Arab-Israeli peace….

“Moreover, we think it appropriate to call special attention to the cordial relationships Israel has maintained with the developing Black nations in Africa and the Third World nations in Asia….As these new states were established, many were impressed and helped by Israel’s example. Israel sent her teachers, technicians and experts to many countries…(which) benefited from Israel’s financial and technical assistance. Hundreds of Africans come to Israel each year for specialized instruction within her universities and training centers for short-term intensive courses….

“In times of crisis and epidemics, wars and famines, Israel has sent tons of relief supplies and medical aid to her African neighbors. Indeed, the example set by the Jewish people in their long struggle to overcome oppression and to win freedom, from the time of Moses to the establishment of the State of Israel, has helped inspire Black people in this country to strive for self respect and dignity and to revive their own cultural heritage.”

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