Menu JTA Search

Harris Doubts There Will Be a Permanent Rift Between Blacks, Jews

Patricia Harris, secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, deplored the possibility of a rift between the Jewish and Black communities but said she does not expect that a “permanent breach” will take place. The highest-ranking Black member in the Carter Administration and the President’s only Black Cabinet member spoke out yesterday on the issue of Black-Jewish relations on ABC-TV’s “Issues and Answers.”

At the same time, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of Operation PUSH, appeared on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” where he attacked Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and declared that “the overreaction by the Israeli government did have a lot to do with Andy Young being dismissed” as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The Black leader added that “major Jewish leaders in New York immediately called for his (Young’s) ouster.”

Harris was asked how seriously she viewed the rift between Blacks and the American Jewish community over Andrew Young and his discussion with the Palestine Liberation Organization observer at the UN, Zehdt Labib Terzi.

ASSESSES BLACK-JEWISH RELATIONS

According to a transcript of Harris remarks, she said; “There are no two groups in this country who shared experiences closer than that between the experience of the Jewish community and the Black community. I was thinking this morning, Black spirituals depend frequently upon the relationship between Jewish slavery in Egypt. We have marched together. The concerns that now exist between the two communities are not so much concerns about Andy’s leaving, although we all care desperately, as they are an enunciation of an independence of the Black community on issues of all kinds.

Continuing, Harris said: “The statement that the Black community has interests which they will deal with, even though others may disagree with them, I am confident that we will continue, those of us who are Jewish, to work very closely together on issues on which we agree. There may be significant issues, such as affirmative action, on which we will not be able to have total agreement but the movement of the Black community this week is more an enunciation of their insistence of the right to speak on all issues be respected, and their disagreement on some issues not be a basis for denying their ability to speak on other issues in agreement with either the Jewish community or another community These are difficult times but I don’t expect any permanent breach between the Black community and the Jewish community.”

MEDIA STIRS UP DIFFERENCES

Meanwhile, the media in Washington continued its sensational reporting of the Black-Jewish situation. The print and electronic media in the city where the population is three-quarters Black, played up allegations today of Jewish refusal to contribute to Black organizations.

Without naming sources, the Washington Post front-paged a report today headlined ” Callers Tell Black Groups Jewish Donations Will End” and said “some” contributors to NAAC, the Urban League and the political campaigns of D.C. Congressional delegate Walter E. Fauntroy “are sending word that Blacks should no longer look to them for financial support.”

According to a reliable source, the basis for the report originated in Fauntroy’s office and from it at least one Washington radio station went out to say “leaders” in the community have made the statements.

The media quoted Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, that while some individual Jews, angered by statements of some Blacks, might conceivable decide to withhold donations, no Jewish organization has done so. “What’s the big news that some individual will not make donations ?” Bookbinder said. “There are Jews who won’t donate to Jewish causes when they get angry.”

NEXT STORY