CHICAGO (Sep. 12)
A Black Congressman conceded here that the American Black community is divided over Israel but that “there remains, and I believe there always will remain, tremendous support within the Black community for Israel.” Rep. Ralph H. Metcalfe (D.Ill.) spoke on “American Blacks. American Jews and the State of Israel” before the Chicago Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. The occasion was part of a Luncheon Forum Series presented by the AJ Committee’s foreign affairs commission.
Metcalfe declared that it was a fallacy to believe, as some Blacks did, that support for Israel is based on pressure or intimidation by the Jewish community or that support for Black African nations is not compatible with support for Israel.
“It is easy for a supporter of Black Africa to support Israel’s policy in that area,” he said, noting Israel’s economic assistance to many Black African states. He also noted that Israel has supplied military training to many emerging nations of Black Africa and that the labor movement in Israel has cooperated strongly with labor programs throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America through the Afro-Asian Institute and similar programs.
Metcalfe attributed the deterioration of relations between Black African nations and Israel since the Yom Kippur War to “the problems of oil and of political pressure on the African continent.” He said It was important for supporters of Israel to understand that because of economic dependence the Arab countries were in a position to exert great pressure on Black African countries. “The political and economic realities of the area left the African nations extremely vulnerable to what has been called ‘oil diplomacy.’” he said. Metcalfe stressed, “Black people do have a stake and will always have a stake in ensuring that Israel lives on in freedom, dignity and peace.”