NEW YORK (Apr. 27)
The formation of a newly organized group, the Committee of Black Americans Supporting Israel (BASI) was announced at the first meeting of the group here last Thursday night. At a reception at the house of Dr. Robert Gilmore, treasurer of the A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, It was disclosed that more than 100 prominent Black leaders have already agreed to join the committee, which was initiated by 86-year-old A. Philip Randolph, who is the president of the Randolph Educational Fund (REF).
“We are here to express our support for the State of Israel,” Bayard Rustin, executive director of REF, said, “Whenever minorities seek justice, they have to defend democracy. We seek to defend democracy in the Mideast and therefore we support Israel,” he stated, Rustin explained that “our support of Israel does not mean that we do not support self-determination for the Palestinians,” but, he added, “We are not for the self-determination of the Palestinians if they are dedicated to the destruction of another people…”
Rustin was also critical of the “Arabs attempting to bring discrimination to the United States by their boycott” and promised that the American Black community was not going “to sit idly” in the face of “imported Arab discrimination.” He noted the Blacks in America have struggled for a long time against discrimination and that “we will continue our struggle and support of fundamental principles.”
A CRIME NOT TO SUPPORT ISRAEL
Randolph, who noted that American Jewry always supported the rights of Blacks here, said: “I would like to see the Blacks of America register their support for the State of Israel. It will be a crime for anyone, and especially for Blacks, not to support the just cause of Israel.”
According to Rustin, BASI activities will include organized tours of Blacks to Israel. The first will be a group of 20 disc jockeys who will leave for Israel in a few weeks. Rustin explained that the disc jockey is a tremendously influential person in the Black community “where our folks listen to him 24 hours a day.”
Representing Israel at the reception which included reporters from both the Black and Jewish media, were Ambassador David Rivlin, Consul General of Israel in New York, Moshe Bitan, former Israeli Ambassador to Ghana and presently Director General of Paz, the Israeli Oil Corporation, and Consul Yakov Levi, of the Consulate in New York. Addressing the meeting on the issue of the Arab oil boycott. Bitan observed that “it is superficial to believe that if Israel gives in, the price of oil will go down.” He said that the Arab oil producers will reduce production to get higher prices. Bitan arrived here last Wednesday for a two-week lecture tour throughout the United States.