NEW YORK (Sep. 11)
The newly formed Black Americans to Support Israel Committee (BASIC) expressed "admiration" for Israel’s "democratic values" and "her impressive social achievements" in a statement of principles issued here today. The statement, endorsed by the more than 100 Black Americans prominent in many fields who comprise the Committee’s initial membership, condemned the anti-Jewish "blacklist," affirmed that "Blacks and Jews have common interest in democracy and justice" and supported "democratic Israel’s right to exist."
Formation of the pro-Israel committee was announced at a press conference here today by civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, its director. The committee’s initiator, veteran labor leader A. Phillip Randolph is chairman.
Others on the committee include NAACP ex- acutive director Roy Wilkins; New York City Human Rights Commissioner Eleanor Holmes Norton; Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D. Tex.): Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles: Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D.NY): Rep. Andrew Young (D.Ga.): tennis champion Arthur Ashe; Hank Aaron, who holds the major league baseball home run record; jazz musician Lionel Hampton who is the treasurer of BASIC; author Ralph Ellison; and Urban League director Vernon E. Jordan Jr.
ISRAEL IS THE ONLY FREE MIDEAST COUNTRY
The statement of principles led off with a condemnation of the Arab blacklist, declaring: "We have fought too long and too hard to root out discrimination from our land to sit idly while foreign interests import bigotry into America. Having suffered so greatly from prejudice, we consider most repugnant efforts by the Arab states to use the economic power of their newly acquired oil wealth to boycott business firms that deal with Israel or that have Jewish owners, directors or executives, and to impose anti-Jewish preconditions for investment in this country."
The statement explained its support for Israel on grounds that "Only in Israel, among the nations of the Middle East, are political freedoms and civil liberties secure. All religions are free and secure in their observance. Education is free and universal. Social welfare is highly advanced. Her communal farms (kibbutzim) are models of social idealism, creative innovation and cooperative spirit."
The statement noted that "Arab oil policies have had disastrous effects upon Blacks in America and in Africa." It asserted that "the impact of the massive increases in the price of oil has fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of Black Americans" and no less on "millions of men, women and children in Black Africa" who "face starvation because the economies of their countries, already crippled by drought, were further weakened because of oil price increases."
PEACE THROUGH MUTUAL RECOGNITION
With regard to the Middle East conflict, the statement supported "peace through mutual recognition." It observed that "We have learned from our struggle here in America that the only way to resolve a conflict of nationalities is through mutual acceptance and reconciliation. The Arabs have refused to accept the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Israel has consistently demonstrated the desire to make concessions in the interests of peace with her Arab neighbors. But she has refused to accept conditions that would threaten her existence as an independent, sovereign nation."
BASIC said it supported "the rights of the Palestinians to genuine self-determination, but not at the expense of the rights of Jews to independence and statehood, and not at the command of economic blackmailers or of terrorists who would force their own ‘solution’ at the point of a gun." In that connection the statement denounced the Palestine Liberation Organization which, "like all terrorist groups, have turned their unbridled violence against anyone who gets in their way, including Palestinians who disagree with them."