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Two Jewish Groups Protest Invitation by Church Group to Black Militant

Two national Jewish agencies have registered strong protests with the National Council of Churches for inviting Imanu Amiri Baraka, the Black militant playwright, formerly known as Leroi Jones, to address the opening session of the Council’s triennial general assembly. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, which had been invited to send observers, declined because of what it termed Baraka’s “violently anti-Semitic writings.”

The American Jewish Committee, which sent two observers though it agreed with the ADL’s charge, maintained, however, that it would not be deterred by Baraka’s presence from sending observers who had important business to attend to at the Council of general American and specifically Jewish interest.

Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of the AJCommittee’s Interreligious Affairs department said “the invitation to Baraka was extended by the Protestant leadership and they bear obviously the full responsibility for that action and for its consequences in inter-group relations.” Noting that the NCC represents about 33 main-line Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches, Rabbi Tanenbaum said, “For a church group of this prestige to provide a platform to this preacher of hatred and violent revolution is in effect to legitimatize him, and to suggest endorsement of the anti-human views which he propagates.”

Benjamin Epstein, national director of the ADL, said he had written to the Council’s general secretary citing instances of Baraka’s anti-Semitic writings but was told in reply that Baraka had already accepted the invitation to speak and that his talk was to focus on third world relations, not the domestic scene. Baraka’s talk, however, was mainly a condemnation of the United States as a “major primitive obstruction in the path of progress” and an exhortation to the church to become “revolutionary.” He told a press conference here that his writings could be construed as anti-Semitic only if taken out of context.

A dispute has developed between Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and Transport Minister Shimon Peres over plans to build a Tel Aviv subway to relieve the mamoth traffic jams in Israel’s largest city. Peres considers a subway an urgent necessity, but Sapir insists that the country’s financial situation does not permit spending the hundreds of millions of pounds an underground railway system would cost. Sapir has objected specifically to budgeting IL 10 million for the preliminary study asked by Peres.

The first road build specifically to connect villages on either side of the Green Line, the cease-fire lines established after the Six-Day War, has been completed. The eight kilometer road links Kfar Kassem on the Israeli side of the line with Masha village in the Samaria district of the West Bank. It was built in three-and-a-half months at a cost of IL 500.000.

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