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NCRAC Parley Opens with Appeal to Jews to Remain Active in Negro Rights Struggle

July 1, 1968
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A call to the American Jewish community not to react to Black extremists by becoming "disengaged" from the Negro struggle for full equality today opened the annual plenary session of the National Community Relations Advisory Council. Jordan C. Band of Cleveland, NCRAC chairman, said in a keynote address that the Jewish community "has a massive stake" in the urban crisis and must not be diverted "because some Negroes are violent, or ungrateful, or anti-Semitic."

"Nor are we in it to reward Negroes for their forbearance, respectability, courtesy or amiability, or to win their gratitude," Mr. Band told 250 delegates representing the nine national Jewish organizations and 81 local community relations councils that are NCRAC’s constituents. The Jewish community cannot withdraw from the struggle that is "a crisis of conscience" without forfeiting "what Jews have gained over many years and without repudiating the very principles of democratic pluralism on which we have rested our claim to equal acceptance," he said. Warning that a polarizing of attitudes "which defy reconciliation" will evoke continued "violent confrontations," Mr. Band urged Jewish organizations to work for a lessening in racial tensions.

A message from President Lyndon B. Johnson lauded NCRAC’s efforts in the enactment of recent civil rights legislation. "But poverty, racism and illiteracy still plague our society," Mr. Johnson said. "We are a nation challenged – but a nation on the move. Together, we can and must move – away from violence, frustration, hate, fear and intolerance and toward conciliation, orderly change and general fulfillment."

Addressing a session on Middle East problems, Israel Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin said that those who charge Israel with "rigidity" in Its relations with Arab states ‘overlook reality and tend to persuade by tactical moves and evasive formulations instead of looking at the roots of the problem." Mr. Rabin said It is not rigidity" to demand direct negotiations that can lead to peace treaties or the occupation of territories reinforcing Israel’s security until such agreements are reached. Citing the 1949 armistice agreements, he asked, "Is it rigidity to have the same negotiations procedures as were conducted then under the sponsorship of the United Nations?"

In a session on Soviet Jewry, Isaiah Minkoff, NCRAC’s executive vice-chairman, welcomed "the action of Soviet authorities in permitting Chief Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin (of Moscow) an opportunity to see first-hand the vitality of American Jewish life in a free society." Mr. Minkoff expressed hope that the visit "was not just a happening" but a forerunner of other actions "leading to a reversal of Soviet policy that will accord Russian Jews the same rights granted other Soviet ethnic and religious groups."

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