Ajcongress Official Urges Creation of Jewish-black Coalition to Tackle Urban Problems
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Ajcongress Official Urges Creation of Jewish-black Coalition to Tackle Urban Problems

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Richard Ravitch, chairman of the American Jewish Congress commission on urban affairs, told the 500 delegates attending the national biennial convention here this weekend that hostility between Jews and blacks was caused by “a society that fails to allocate sufficient resources to meet its human needs.” Mr. Ravitch, who is also president of the New York Citizens Housing and Planning Council, said that when jobs, housing and educational opportunities are in short supply, the result is “a fierce rivalry, competition and intergroup tension.” He called for a “broad-based coalition” of Jews, blacks and organized labor to demand more government funds for the solution of urban problems. Sanford Solende, executive vice-president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, declared that Jewish organizations should share its vast body of experience with groups in the black community seeking to build their own structures. He also called for meeting the “special needs of Jewish ghetto residents in our community programs, working with law enforcement agencies to insure their physical security, helping to establish harmonious relationships with the newer people in these ghettos, and assisting the Jewish residents and businessmen in relocating if that is their desire.” In addition, Mr. Solander urged focusing the educational programs of Jewish organizations for their own membership on the problems of urban life and “establishing clearly the link between Jewish values and our obligations to act on the urban crisis.”

During yesterday’s session a group of student delegates walked in a silent demonstration to the Lebanese Embassy in a mock funeral procession to protest the murder last Friday of eight school children and four adults and the wounding of 21 others by Arab guerrillas who attacked an Israeli school bus near the Lebanese border. During the demonstration here, a school bus draped in black, circled the Embassy. Earlier in the day, the convention adopted a resolution to “condemn and repudiate the indefensible recourse to lawlessness” like the attack on three Arabs in New York last Friday by an as yet unidentified extremist group in apparent retaliation for the ambush bombing of the Israeli school bus. The resolution expressed grief over the tragedy but noted that this “must not distort our responses. We cannot allow the horrifying act of the Middle East to push us into committing or condoning irrational attempts to take violent reprisals against Arab representatives in our country.”

Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld of Cleveland, who was reelected president of the Congress, compared the attacks on the three Arabs with a beating he recalled suffering at the hands of “red-neck bigots” in Mississippi while he was there as a counselor during a voter registration drive in 1964. “Mindless violence,” he declared “is no answer no matter how deep our anguish at those who make innocent children on their way to school the victims of political horror.” On Saturday, the 500 delegates marched to the Soviet Embassy to demand religious and cultural freedom for Soviet Jews and the removal of barriers to free emigration. Rabbi Lelyveld was permitted by police to approach the Embassy gates while other demonstrators were kept 500 feet away. A Soviet official who emerged from the Embassy refused to accept from Rabbi Lelyveld a petition from the delegates. The rabbi then offered the Russian a rose.

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