Black, Jewish Leaders Discuss Ways to Re-create Coalition
Menu JTA Search

Black, Jewish Leaders Discuss Ways to Re-create Coalition

Download PDF for this date

Jesse L. Jackson, a Black clergyman who heads Operation PUSH, emphasized yesterday to Jewish leaders at a two day meeting here on Black-Jewish relations that he always had been and continued to be for the right of Israel to exist and against Arab terrorism.

The meeting was convened by the head of PUSH an acronym for People United to Save Humanity, and Rabbi Irwin M. Blank, president of the Synagogue Council of America, which represents Orthodox. Conservative and Reform Judaism. The 50 participants announced their intention to seek to re-create the Black and Jewish civil rights coalition of the 1960s which has faded in recent years.

Rev. Jackson’s statement, made during the closing session yesterday and at a private session with the Jewish leaders, followed a statement by him to the effect that the two day meeting here was one of a series of dialogues he was holding with American Arabs and other minorities.


The reference to American Arabs led the Jewish leaders to ask Rev. Jackson for a clarification and the formal agenda yesterday was cancelled for a discussion of Rev. Jackson’s remark He said the intent of the dialogues he was holding was not political but rather an effort to relate to minority groups in America, particularly those in search of better economic opportunities. He said there were many Arab Americans in Detroit and Chicago who needed such help.

The Jewish leaders said they, too, were talking to everyone but asked why Rev. Jackson had brought in the question of Arab Americans at a time when the Palestine Liberation Organization was threatening the security of Israel. Rev. Jackson then reaffirmed his commitment to Israel and added he opposed what the PLO was trying to do if that would be detrimental to the efforts of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to achieve harmony in the Middle East.

The gathering of the religious leaders was a follow-up to Jackson’s call at a National Urban League convention several months ago for a meeting of Black and Jewish leaders to consider the issues which led to the erosion of the united front of the 1960s.


In a Joint statement at the close of the meeting, the religious leaders issued a Joint statement declaring that the United States was “in desperate search of leadership to fill the aching moral vacuum of our society” and that “we rise to this challenge keenly aware that despite the seeming tension and conflict of our short-term interests, our long-range vision of what needs to be done must again unite us.” Bishop H. Hartford Brookins head of the African Methodist Episcopal Churches in Los Angeles, said “there are more things that unite us than divide us.”

Participants said that, in addition to the issue of Israel and the Arab world, the issues examined included the use of quotas in school enrollment and public employment to increase minority group hiring. The quota concept, under the term “affirmative action.” has been strongly opposed in the Jewish community.

Rabbi Blank said Blacks and Jews must stop viewing each other “as symbols rather than as living individuals,” adding, “as long as Black people see Jews as the symbol of white oppression, the super-slumlord, the super-small-storekeeper exploiter, then it will be that much more difficult for the Black community to come to a realistic appraisal of the source of its problems and that much more difficult to deal with those sources.”

He also said that as long as Jews “persist in seeing in Black people the symbol of threats to economic security, community stability, third world hostility to Israel, then constructive approaches to its concerns will be stifled before they can take shape.”

the statement called for “a program of full employment as a matter of right,” repudiation of President Ford’s anti-inflation program because it “sacrifices the poor, weak, the minorities and the elderly,” a national health care and child care program and effective affirmative action programs for women. Blacks and other minorities.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund