Menu JTA Search

Naacp Leader Urges Improved Relations Between Blacks and Jews

Relations between Blacks and Jews will improve “because there is no alternative,” according to NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks, who this week opened the 75th annual convention of the civil rights organization here.

But despite persistent questioning, Hooks refused to criticize the Rev. Jesse Jackson for his remarks about Jews or his relationship with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrahan, according to the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle.

In a news conference last Sunday, Hooks said that Jackson “apologized and has disavowed” remarks referring to Jews as “Hymies” and that the Democratic Presidential aspirant has also repudiated remarks by Farrakhan who described Judaism as a “gutter religion.” Other Black spokesmen, Hooks said. should not have to answer for Farrakhan’s comments.

MEDIA BLAMED FOR FARRAKHAN’S PROMINENCE

Instead, the NAACP official, said the responsibility for publicizing Farrakhan rests with journalists who he claimed have given the Muslim leader “more press than all the other established Black leaders.”

Hooks, for his part, last week issued a statement deploring Farrakhan’s disparaging remarks about Judaism and Israel. “The NAACP’s struggle historic ally has been against those groups and people who have fought to divide the nation along racial and ethnic lines,” Hooks said last week.

Hooks had also called on Farrakhan to “cease all efforts” to undermine respect for other groups, saying the end result of such statements can “only be damaging to the interests of Black people.”

At the news conference, Hooks said he had last talked with Farrakhan, the leader of the Chicagobased Nation of Islam group, shortly before the critical comments were released. He said he had told Farrakhan about the statement and Farrakhan denied making the comments attributed to him. Hooks refused however to reveal other aspects of the discussion.

The NAACP official also refused to criticize Jackson’s relationship with Farrakhan, saying that whatever recommendations he had to make to Jackson would be in private. Both Jackson and Mondale were to address the NAACP convention this week. Sen. Gary Hart, also a Democratic Presidential aspirant, was slated to attend the convention.

While only a small portion of Hooks’ comments dealt with Black-Jewish relations and the topic of Jackson, Hooks deftly defused an implicity critical question aimed at Israeli arms sales to South Africa. Saying he “didn’t have enough information on which to form a judgement,” Hooks deplored the amount of arms sale in general world-wide. Instead, Hooks saved most of his criticism for the Reagan Administration and what he said are its attacks on programs for Blacks and the poor.

NEXT STORY