NEW YORK (Sep. 11)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has called on the Carter Administration “to reexamine” the pledge given to Israel four years ago, barring the United States from negotiating with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) until the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist.
The appeal to the Administration was part of a statement issued here yesterday at the conclusion of the NAACP’s fall annual board meeting at the Sheraton Centre. “The NAACP,” the statement declared, “calls upon the U.S. government not to proscribe or limit the portion of any bona fide Middle East entity in the pursuit of a just and humane settlement of the conflict or causes of conflict in the region.
“Four years after former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger entered into a secret agreement with Israel barring direct negotiations by the U.S. with Palestinian officials until the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist, the NAACP finds it imperative to question the continuing wisdom of such an arrangement given present developments and realities.”
The NAACP, however, coupled its call to the Carter Administration with a call on the U.S. “never to relent in its commitment to the permanent existence of Israel with secure and recognized borders.” The statement added that NAACP supports the right for “self-determination and a homeland for the Palestinian people.”
Recalling the meeting of Black leaders in New York on Aug. 22 where they deplored the “double standard” used in judging Ambassador Andrew Young’s meeting with Zehadi Lapib Terzi, the PLO observer at the UN, and U.S. Ambassador to Austria Milton Wolf’s meeting with a PLO official in Vienna, the NAACP board said it fully endorsed the statements adopted by the Black leaders.
The board’s statement also endorsed an Aug. 22 statement which supported “the right of Black Americans to participate in the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy.” The NAACP also supported the right of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Black citizens and organizations “to engage in dialogue with individuals and groups whose actions have serious consequences for them.” This was a reference to the meeting SCLC leaders held with Terzi prior to their meeting with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Yehuda Blum.
IN SEARCH OF MIDEAST PEACE
Continuing, the board statement declared: ‘The NAACP notes with grave concern the unending reality of warfare and violence in the Middle East. This continuing destruction of life and property daily not only threatens to engulf the region once more in full scale warfare, but it also poses a severe danger to the economies of the U.S. and its principal allies and to world peace.
“The NAACP condemns violence of whatever source and calls upon those directly involved to begin immediate, direct contacts and negotiations in search of peace. In this pursuit of peace in the Middle East, the NAACP will, as in the past, work directly with the U.S. government and its representatives in promoting the interests of this nation and its people.”
Benjamin L. Hooks, the NAACP’s executive director, said, however, yesterday that while his organization had “no intention of initiating talks with the PLO, we would urge the State Department to talk with the PLO.”
Meanwhile, Hooks announced yesterday that steps were underway to initiate dialogue between the Black and Jewish communities under the aegis of the Kivie Kaplan Human Relations. Institute. The Institute was jointly established by the NAACP and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations with a grant from the Kaplan Family Charity Trust started by the late Kivie Kaplan, a Boston industrialist who served as national president of NAACP from 1966 until his death May 5, 1975.
The board’s statement, which endorsed the dialogue, urged that Young’s “resignation not be permitted to become a vehicle for the increase of tension. To this end, we urge President Carter to immediately give a full and clear explanation of the reasons for the acceptance of that resignation. The NAACP feels that existing differences are not insurmountable. With conscientious effort and mutual respect, both groups would be able to pursue the goals of equal rights in strengthened cooperation.”