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Jews Urged to Stress Jewish Interests in Relations with Blacks but Continue to Fight Against Poverty

November 16, 1979
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A Jewish official who was active in the civil rights movement said here today that from a Jewish viewpoint Black-Jewish relations in the upcoming years must be based on a more hard headed-understanding of fundamental Jewish interests, including strong opposition to the quotas movement, rather than a generalized liberalism of the kind that characterized the Jewish posture towards Blacks in the past.”

At the same time, Dr. Murray Friedman, Middle Atlantic States director of the American Jewish Committee, told a meeting of the American Jewish Press Association that an equally strong effort must be maintained to keep Jews in the battle against poverty and discrimination in American life and against what he termed pockets of racism that exist within the Jewish community.

“The growth of inflation and continued recession strike hardest at the poor who are disproportionately Black,” Friedman told the editors and publishers who represent some 70 Jewish community English-language newspapers and monthly magazines in the United States and Canada. “Apart from anything else, a society that tolerates high levels of unemployment provides poor education and opportunities for youth, is an unstable one and ultimately dangerous for Jews.”


He noted that the tensions between the Black and Jewish communities were not a passing phenomenon. He said the tensions go back at least to the late 1960s, with the rise of the Black Power movement, the growth of a Black middle class and the radicalization of significant elements of young and better educated Blacks who often identify with “the most excessive postures of the third world.”

The collision between Blacks and Jews, together with a significant rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feelings among the better educated and highest status Blacks, had developed unevenly around the country, Friedman said. It was especially heated in New York, Chicago and Atlanta, he reported, while the situation was calmer in cities such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

“It is significant that in those cities where lines of communication and cooperative programs between Blacks and Jews have not been permitted to lapse, the two groups were better able to handle the situation,” Friedman said. In Baltimore, on going work by the local chapter of the AJCommittee with Morgan State College titled “The Baltimore Blues,” and similar processes in Pittsburgh and Washington have helped ease some of the tensions, he said.


Friedman, who supervises AJCommittee activities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia and is the author of a recent study, “Black Anti Semitism on the Rise, “pointed out that Arab groups are “seeking to pour oil dollars into these troubled waters” of Black-Jewish relations. Arab groups, he reported, “have started a new campaign to forge a broad political alliance of Blacks, from the community level to major civil rights organizations and politicians, as part of an effort to change U.S. policy on the Middle East. “He said that, for example, M.T. Mehdi, the president of the American-Arab Relations Committee, has held meetings with Black leaders in New York, Philadelphia and other parts of the country to press for such coalitions.

Libya, he said, has also offered aid to inner cities in America. But, Friedman added, groups like the National Urban League and the NAACP “have spurned such overtures.” At the same time, Blacks have continued to receive Jewish support for much of their domestic and political agenda, and in turn the overwhelming number of Black Congressmen have voted in favor of the $5 billion Israeli-Egyptian peace package. In the final-analysis, Friedman said. Blacks and Jews are interdependent.

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