Menu JTA Search

Ties Between Hispanic Americans, U.S. Jews Seen Growing Steadily

Hispanic-Jewish ties are growing steadily among the 15 million Hispanic Americans and the 6 million American Jews despite some points of disagreement. Increased efforts will be made by both groups to reconcile differences and form future coalitions.

That was the consensus of opinion at sessions of the American Jewish Committee’s annual Executive Council meeting here in the Galleria Plaza through Sunday. However, it was made clear that there were still differences on some issues.

Manuel Bustelo, chairman of the Forum of National Hispanic Organizations and executive director of the National Puerto Rican Forum said, “there is a big difference between talk and communication. We have talked. Now we must communicate. We must sit together not only to seek out our differences but to find our similarities, our common interests and goals, and the way in which we can work together so all can trade and profit.”

A similar view was voiced by Alfredo Gutierrez, Arizona State Senator. Both he and Bustelo said that Jews had frequently gotten behind a number of programs vital to Hispanic Americans. They cited:

A generous U.S. immigration policy, including family unification, and amnesty for workers without papers; the use of native languages in schools primarily as a vehicle for teaching English; encouragement of pluralism in public schools; and extension of the Voting Rights Act.

Various speakers at the meeting pointed out that many American Jews live in the areas in which the Hispanic population is increasing, and that the two groups would come into closer contact as their residential patterns converge.

AREAS OF HISPANIC-JEWISH RELATIONS

Hispanic representatives emphasized that their community feels it is subject to a great deal of discrimination in employment and in the general society, and that a sizeable segment of it strongly favors affirmative action, including quotas. They also stressed that:

Hispanics and Jews will not always see eye to eye. Affirmative action quotas are one area where they disagree. There are also differences regarding some aspects of U.S. immigration policy.

Hispanic-Jewish ties are steadily increasing, and that more exploration was needed to reveal common concerns and points of disagreement.

If both sides approach the relationship with realism and respect for each other’s needs and feelings, it should be possible to forge an effective coalition movement beneficial to both groups.

It was explained during the sessions that about 60 percent of Hispanics in the United States are of Mexican origin; 15 percent come from Puerto Rico; 7 percent are of Cuban ancestry, most of them refugees from Castro; and 18 percent stem from other Latin nations.

NEXT STORY