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Arabs Take over Church; Jewish Defense League Orders Minister to Evict Them

April 7, 1970
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A confrontation between Arab and Jewish militants at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village was subdued by the police yesterday before their anger could erupt into violence. The Arabs, who described themselves as “Palestinian refugees” staged a six-hour demonstration in the church disrupting services to protest what it called its pro-Israel stance. Their self-styled leader, John Lawrence, head of the anti-Israel group FAIR (Federated Americans Against Imperialism and Racism), said they sought to expose alleged attacks on pro-Arab groups in the city by “Jewish vandals, Jewish racists and their criminal supporters,” as well as Israeli “murder of Arab children and women.” On hearing of the demonstration, members of the Jewish Defense League converged on the site. According to the Rev. Howard Moody, senior minister of the church, they ordered him to clear the Arabs out in two hours or they would take unilateral action. Rev. Moody told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he refused to accede to their demands, and instead spoke with the Arabs, who, he reported, had been duped by Mr. Lawrence. “They wanted their complaints (about Israel) to be heard and we heard them,” he said. After that “there wasn’t any problem.” Mr. Lawrence had apparently selected the Judson church as a symbol of Protestant pro-Israeli policy. “He claims I’m pro-Israel, which I am,” Rev. Moody commented. Earlier in the day, the JDL held memorial services in front of the United Arab Republic Mission to the United Nations, on behalf of civilian victims of “Arab terrorism during the past half century.”

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