Behind the Headlines Amsterdam News Assails Beame for ‘racist Actions’ in Refusing to Meet with Sada
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Behind the Headlines Amsterdam News Assails Beame for ‘racist Actions’ in Refusing to Meet with Sada

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The Amsterdam News, the nation’s largest circulation Black weekly, mounted an unbridled attack this week against Mayor Abraham Beame because he refused to meet with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The paper also bristled against UN Ambassador Daniel Moynihan’s attack on Uganda President Idi Amin when he referred to him as a “racist murderer.” But the attack on Beame was by far the more extensive and insidious. The lead editorial on page four, titled, “Mayor Beame is Wrong”, pulled out all the stops.

The editorial noted that Beame was elected by an overwhelming majority of the city’s voters, not just Jewish voters, and as such is responsible to all of them. By snubbing Sadat the editorial stated, Beame placed his “Jewish sympathies above, and beyond, his responsibilities and duties as New York’s First Citizen” and has “set back the cause of race relations in New York 50 years.”

So that no one could mistake where the Amsterdam News stands on the issue of Zionism equals racism resolution adopted by the UN Third Committee, the editorial affirmed: “So far as associating Zionism with racism, this newspaper will have no part of that, although, here again, many New Yorkers feel that the two are connected.”

The editorial, however, did not identify who are the “many New Yorkers” and gave no evidence to substantiate this assertion. The editorial was fashioned in such a way as to impress on its readers that it was not only describing what the paper felt was the thinking of Harlem’s Black community but a guide that this is what the community should be thinking in case it was too slow to do so on its own.


It made it crystal clear that the newspaper equated Beame’s “Jewish sympathies” with “racism.” The editorial stated: “And Mayor Beame’s racist actions in the Sadat issue only makes it more easy for the enemies of the Jewish people to equate Zionism with racism, and more difficult for staunch friends of the mayor, and the Jewish people, to distinguish between the two.

The editorial then falsified Beame’s reason for snubbing Sadat. It declared: “Mr. Beame contends that it would be ‘hypocrisy’ for him to meet with President Sadat. If, by that, the mayor is saying that as a Jewish mayor he shouldn’t be expected to sit down with an Arab statesman, then we say that the hypocrisy in this case began when the mayor took his oath of office and swore to represent all the people.”

That this is a deliberate distortion of Beame’s position can been seen by the fact that whoever wrote the editorial ignored an article on page one of the newspaper written by Simon Anekwe who stated that the mayor refused to meet with Sadat because the Egyptian leader supported the UN draft resolution that equated Zionism with racism. The Egyptian delegate was one of 70 that voted for the draft.

But if the Amsterdam News merely had this editorial and nothing else dealing with this subject it would be disastrous enough because it implanted–oven if subliminally–the idea that Zionism is a form of racism and undiluted and blind hatred of Arabs and Blacks. However, the editorial was only one part of the paper’s onslaught against Beame. On page one, four headlines declared: “Blacks Hit Beame on Snub to Sadat”: “Harlemites Unanimously against Beame”: “Rangel. Diggs, Hit Moynihan”: and Black Nationalists invite President Sadat to Harlem.”


A lead article on page one by Anekwe noted that Beame twice last month “refused an official welcome to an African head of state.” The reference is to Sadat and Amin. The latter, addressing the General Assembly earlier last month, called for the “extinction of Israel as a state” and charged that America was controlled by Zionists, Anekwe wrote that the Amsterdam News “asked several Black leaders” how they felt about Beame’s snub of Sadat. Their reactions were negative.

Franklin Williams, president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, said Beame was mistaken in his refusal to receive Sadat. Beame, Williams was quoted, “is supposed to be Mayor of all the people of New York City” and Sadat is the President of an “independent nation.”

Roy Innes, executive director of CORE, stated that Beame’s action was based on his “sectarian inclination. The fact that President Sadat was received by the White House leaves one wondering who determines which foreign leader should be welcomed.” Noting that Beame also snubbed Amin, Innes added, “It is deplorable that Mayor Beame should allow his private position to affect his public judgement.”

Bruce Llewellyn, president of The 100 Black Men, Inc., observed, “When a man invited by the President is visiting the city, there should be one way or the other (sic) that the Mayor would meet him in his capacity as mayor, greet him and say what he has to say.” Llewellyn added, however, “I can understand the Mayor’s position, but it seems to me that if our national government does receives him (sic), the Mayor ought to extend that courtesy to him.”

Rev. A. Kendell Smith, founder of the Task Force Against Racism, noted that “Beame would be wise not to offend any of the darker citizens of New York. Blacks respect citizens of the East, the land of our origin, New York may default both socially and economically.”

State Republican Party chairman Richard Rosenbaum, asked how he felt about Beame’s snub, responded: “I think that as Mayor of a city with the largest Jewish population, he was simply responding to the sensitivities of the Jewish population which is understandable, I don’t think that Black people feel as strongly about Africa as American Jews feel about Israel.”

Amsterdam News photographer Tex Harris interviewed Harlemites, and the nine quoted in the issue all agreed that Beame violated protocol in refusing to greet Sadat.


An unsigned article on page one related that a group calling itself the African American Nationalist Committee invited Sadat to accept the keys of the Black community of Harlem last Thursday. It also rebuked Beame and Governor Hugh Carey for failing to meet with the Egyptian leader and added: “Black people will not allow the Zionist racist to divide us from our Third World brothers, because we are aware of the Zionist

The group is not listed in the city telephone directory and the telephone company said it had no listing for the group. A spokesman for the office of Borough President Percy Sutton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the organization may be “phoney,” Bayard Rustin, director of the Black Africans to Support Israel Committee (BASIC), told the JTA that the group may have been formed on the spur of the moment as an “ad hoc” group.


Another unsigned article on page one reported that Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and Michigan’s Charles Diggs scored Moynihan for characterizing Amin as a “racist murderer.” In a telegram to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, the two legislators were quoted as saying “we are shocked by the intemperate” statement by Moynihan. “This statement casts totally unfounded aspersions on the OAU (Organization of African States, which is headed by Amin) and its member states and is therefore intolerable.”

The telegram by Rangel and Diggs added, according to the Amsterdam News. “We are neither defending the internal policies of the President of Uganda, or his statements at the UN as President of Uganda. Our concern is Moynihan’s total disrespect for the office of the President of the OAU.”

The article did not mention that Clarence Mitchell Jr., a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN and the director of the NAACP bureau in Washington, also denounced Amin’s attack on Israel, nor that President Ford stated that both Moynihan and Mitchell said “what needed to be said” in answering Amin.

In a belated effort to be even-handed, the paper also reprinted on page five the full text of Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon’s address to the Knesset Oct, 20 in which he denounced the UN draft resolution and analyzed the nature of Zionism. But by the time the reader gets to that the impression has already been established that somehow Zionism does equal racism.

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