The leaders of four major Jewish organizations huddled here this week on the issue of Jews and blacks in Hollywood, then declared that they are willing to meet with “responsible” black leadership to discuss a specific agenda that would not include alleged “Jewish racism” toward blacks.
The Jewish leaders, who met for an hour at the offices of the American Jewish Committee on Tuesday, were David Lehrer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Rabbi Laura Geller, of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, of the AJCommittee; and Steven Windmueller, of the local Jewish Community Relations Committee.
The four said they would prefer to talk with leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and they did not mention any others by name.
All emphatically stated that they will not enter into talks with black leaders if Legrand Clegg, who ignited the controversy last week, is included.
Clegg, the Compton, Calif., city attorney, charged at the NAACP national convention here that black entertainers are being held back by “century-old Jewish racism in Hollywood.”
He challenged Jewish leaders to a summit meeting to examine, in the company of blacks, his accusations “in the same spirit” that Jews have called summits to discuss anti-Semitic statements by black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan and Nelson Mandela.
DISMISSED AS ANTI-SEMITE
Lehrer dismissed Clegg as an anti-Semite “who heads a paper organization (the Coalition Against Black Exploitation) and has been making these kinds of charges for years.” The other three organizational leaders appeared to support Lehrer’s characterizations.
They agreed, however, that blacks probably have been deprived of rightful opportunities in Hollywood, although it was not the fault of “Jews in visible positions — Jews are not to blame,” Windmueller said.
So then why should Jews and blacks even meet?
“We want to make sure Los Angeles does not become yet another center of dangerous tensions between blacks and Jews,” said Windmueller.
“We want to make sure the lines of communications are kept open so that when these occasional flare-ups happen, we can sit down and reasonably discuss them.”
But the leaders were adamant in declaring that the matter of “black entertainers being held down” would be “more properly addressed to Sony, Lorimar, MGM and other Hollywood studio honors — 6505 Wilshire (home of the Jewish Federation Council) is not the appropriate address.”
Geller, of AJCongress, said that “it is up to the black community to make the next move. Perhaps we (AJCongress) will extend an invitation to meet, but the ball is in their court.”
She said that all agreed that Clegg’s charges of Jewish racism in Hollywood are anti-Semitic, and “should not be responded to or dignified.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.