While further condemnations were voiced here today against the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for its attacks against Zionism, Israel and Jews, leaders of this extremist, “black power” organization continued their attacks which have been widely termed “anti-Semitic.”
Three of the SNCC leaders held a press conference at their headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., repeating the anti-Jewish allegations which SNCC had previously made in its newsletter. They said Jews were “imitating their Nazi oppressors, committing some of the same atrocities against the Arabs.”
Ralph Featherstone, SNCC program director, said: “Israel is and always has been the tool and foothold for American and British exploiters in the Middle East and Africa.” Miss Ethel Minor, another SNCC leader, told the press that the organization would expand on its anti-Israeli propaganda. The same attitude was voiced by Stanley Wise, executive secretary of SNCC.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., declined in Atlanta yesterday to comment on the SNCC anti-Jewish attacks, saying he had not read the SNCC newsletter. He stated, however, that he was strongly opposed to anti-Semitism and “anything that does not signify my concern for humanity for the Jewish people.”
Other prominent Negro civil rights leaders, as well as labor leaders, joined Jewish organizational leaders who condemned SNCC. Whitney Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, compared the SNCC newsletter’s views on the Israeli-Arab issue to those of the American Nazi Party, and declared: “Negro citizens are well aware of the contributions for equal rights by Jewish citizens. Negroes have been the victims of racism for too long to indulge in group stereotypes and racial hatred themselves.”
A joint statement issued by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Bayard Rustin, executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, said they were “appalled and distressed by the anti-Semitic article” in the SNCC newsletter. They declared that the SNCC attitude “reflects a complete divorce from the opinions and aspirations of the mass of American Negroes. The famous Negro singer, Harry Belafonte, said he was not surprised at the SNCC attitude. Mr. Belafonte has frequently supported pro-Israel causes, performing at fund-raising events on Israel’s behalf.
Theodore Bikel, singer, actor and well-known participant in the civil rights movement, announced today he has resigned from SNCC because its charges against Israel, Zionism and Jews were “obscene.” Noting that he had joined SNCC in 1962, and that “I am an American and I am a Jew,” he said: “I am equally determined to honor the bonds of my ethnic and religious background.” He charged that SNCC’s leadership had “attempted to violate my commitments.” He recalled that two of the SNCC martyrs who were murdered by racists in Mississippi in 1964–Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman–were Jews.
The Jewish Labor Committee said in a statement, that SNCC has now “irretrievably joined the anti-Semitic American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan as an apostle of racism in the United States.”
In Washington, Rep. Edna Kelly, New York Democrat, told the House today that there was no evidence to support the SNCC charges that Israel massacred Arab civilians. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she said she was disturbed by the SNCC charges, and had determined that the State Department found no indication of truth in them.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.