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Ajcommittee Leader Says Jackson’s ‘rainbow Coalition’ Appears to Be Rallying Point for Black Separat

May 7, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Howard Friedman, who was re-elected as president of the American Jewish Committee at its 78th annual meeting, deplored the fact that the so-called “Rainbow Coalition,” which Democratic Presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson has sought to organize, instead of bringing diverse groups together “increasingly appears to be a rallying point for Black separatism.”

Friedman told the gathering that Jackson’s candidacy “has been laced by an attitude toward Jews, which if not anti-Semitic itself is certainly viewed by Jews as not anti-anti-Semitic–a position which if expressed by most other candidates would have long ago spelled the end of the candidacy, and oblivion for the candidate as a public figure.”

The AJCommittee, like others in American society, Friedman stated, hesitated to express its profound disagreements with Jackson. This reluctance, he said, reflected its desire “not to exacerbate Black-Jewish relations and comes from our conviction that the ties that bind our two communities–our shared goals of equality of opportunity and social justice — are stronger than those that divide us.”

Nevertheless, Friedman continued, Jackson’s failure “to repudiate the ongoing embrace and intimidation tactics and extremist positions of Louis Farrakhan and other Black separatists is a failure which cannot be countenanced by people of good will whatever their politics.”

The tendency of the Jackson campaign and its supporters to regard lack of support among whites as racism, and among Blacks as disloyalty to the Black community, strikes at the heart of what American pluralism is all about, Friedman asserted. “A campaign that asks Blacks to ‘vote Black,’ regardless of politics or position on issues,” he said, “is a formula for divisive and polarized politics in America which can only be destructive of the interests of all Americans, including Blacks.”


Discussing the Democratic primary campaign, Theodore Ellenoff, chairman of the AJC’s Board of Governors, stated that the American political community, including the American Jewish community, “must take seriously Jesse Jackson’s agenda, which has much broader support than his controversial style would suggest.

“By underscoring the needs of the permanently poor, the recently unemployed and the shrinking opportunities for minorities and others, Rev. Jackson has illuminated some of the bleaker landscapes of the American scene.”

Ellenoff added: “His solutions may not be correct and we have been appalled at the bigotry and insensitivity of some of his and his supporters’ remarks, but the needs he dramatizes must be addressed.”

On the foreign scene, however, Ellenoff said he believed that “Jackson dangerously places in the public arena a new discussion of themes which have been broadly supported by both parties for 30 years, and challenges the previous consensus.” He continued: “Rev. Jackson would reduce defense appropriations to a level below the need seen by both parties, redistribute foreign aid to Third World antagonists of U.S. policy, and establish a neutrality toward Israel that is at variance with the position of both parties. “Ellenoff pointed out that Jackson is the first candidate for national office in the Democratic Party who has taken a neutral view of Israel’s role in the Middle East and as a bastion of Western values. “Adopting such a position would diminish American capacity to defend Western values in the Middle East and elsewhere.”


At the AJCommittee’s annual dinner last Thursday night, Philip Hoffman, AJC honorary president, received the agency’s Distinguished Service Award for his “decades of outstanding service.” The AJC’s Media Award went to Theodore White for “his life-long commitment to enhancing public understanding of the nation’s democratic principles and institutions.” Dr. Gerson Cohen, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, received the AJC’s Akiba Award for “outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Jewish life through scholarship, leadership, literature and commural activity.”

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