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Organizations Simmering over Passages Considered Anti-semitic in Museum Catalogue

January 21, 1969
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Jewish organizations were today still simmering over passages they regard as anti-Semitic in an introduction to a catalogue for an exhibition on Harlem life. Some 30 members of the Jewish Defense League yesterday picketed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the controversial “Harlem on My Mind” exhibit opened, and urged that it be boycotted. Rep. James H. Scheuer, Bronx Democrat and a Jew, who has announced his candidacy for Mayor, denounced the passages in the catalogue as “crude and obvious, virulent anti-Semitic and anti-ethnic remarks.”

Among the remarks written two years ago as a high school term paper by Candice Van Ellison, now an 18-year-old Bridgeport University sophomore, were these: “The already badly exploited black” was allowed “to be further exploited by Jews…behind every hurdle that the Afro-American has yet to jump stands a Jew who has already cleared it.”

Mayor John V. Lindsay and a number of Jewish organizations had asked that the introduction be deleted from the catalogues. The Museum prevailed upon the author to write a disclaimer, which appears only in the soft-cover edition, that “any racist overtones inferred from the passages quoted out of context are regrettable.” The American Jewish Congress assailed the “so-called disclaimer” as unsatisfactory and called upon the museum to take the entire catalogue out of circulation. It said the disclaimer had “added insult to injury,” adding that “the negligence of the museum in giving credence and support to racist remarks in the catalogue cannot be mitigated by any disclaimer, particularly one as half-hearted as this.”

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