Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Anti-semitic Attack in Organ of Extremist Negro Organization Evokes Jewish Protests

August 16, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

National Jewish leaders today severely criticized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an extremist Negro organization, for attacking Zionism, in a newsletter issued in Atlanta, and accusing Israel of committing atrocities against Arabs.

Among those deploring the SNCC attitude on this issue–pointing out that “Snick” now follows the line laid down by American racist organizations like the National Renaissance Party and the Ku Klux Klan, and calling the attack a divisive disservice to the civil rights movement in this country–were Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee; Dore Schary, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Will Maslow, executive director of the American Jewish Congress; Mrs. Rose Halprin, chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency; Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the American Zionist Council, and others.

The SNCC bi-monthly letter accused Zionists of massacring Arabs; carried a cartoon depicting Israel’s Defense Minister, Gen. Moshe Dayan, as wearing a uniform embellished with the dollar sign; accused Israel of segregating Arabs living in Israel; charged that Oriental Jews in Israel are treated as second-class citizens because of their color; said that the United States has constantly given military and financial aid to the “illegal” state of Israel; and declared the Rothschild family had been involved in Britain’s original “conspiracy” to create Israel.

Ralph Featherstone, SNCC program director, told newsmen at his headquarters in Atlanta that the SNCC attack against Zionism and Israel is not anti-Semitic but is directed against “Jewish oppression.” Among the “oppressors,” he said, were “those Jews in the little Jew shops in the ghettos.”


Mr. Abram, in a statement replying to SNCC said: “Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism whether it comes from the Ku Klux Klan or from extremist Negro groups, ‘Snick’ included. We must remember, however, that ‘Snick’ is no more representative of American Negroes or the civil rights movement than the Ku Klux Klan is of white America. It is tragic that ‘Snick’ has now adopted the oldest and most pernicious form of prejudice, namely anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has the historic quality of destroying whoever or whatever touches it, whether it be Nazi Germany or Czarist Russia.

“It is also particularly devastating that ‘Snick’ should have adopted a program of extremist Arabs and Soviet anti-Semites who are at this time advancing the same arguments as ‘Snick’ did in its newsletter,” Mr. Abram continued. “The obvious purpose of the Soviet Union and its Arab allies is to divide and weaken the United States in its search for a just and honorable peace in the Middle East. Americans will not be divided by the Arabs, Soviets or ‘Snick.'”

Mr. Maslow declared: “The shocking and vicious anti-Semitism expressed in the ‘Snick’ newsletter must be condemned as a kind of poison that can only cloud the atmosphere in which white and black, Christian and Jew must work together in the common effort to make the promise of equality come true for every citizen. By its racist attitude, as reflected in the statements published in its official newsletter, ‘Snick’ has disqualified itself from any claim to be taken seriously in the struggle for human decency. There is no room for racists in the fight against racism.

“As partners in the common struggle for racial justice–a struggle that concerns all Americans–the Jewish community has a right to expect that those who claim to seek equality will neither give force to nor tolerate anti-Semitism, publicly proclaimed or privately whispered. At the same time, as Jews, we reiterate the moral and historical imperatives that have determined our commitments to the brotherhood of all men and to the goal of full equality in a free society for all Americans.” the American Jewish Congress official stressed.


Mr. Schary stated: “The ADL regards this development to be a tragedy in the race relations situation in the United States. ‘Snick’ is no longer a responsible civil rights group. It ties itself to the Chinese-Soviet and now Arab propaganda machines in the United States.

“I do not think the majority of Negroes go along,” the ADL leader continued. ” ‘Snick’ represents a minuscule minority of the Negro people. Americans generally rejected this kind of extremism, whether it comes from a group like ‘Snick’ or one like the Ku Klux Klan. It is an irony that ‘Snick’ should tie itself to the Arab cause when an Arab country, Saudi Arabia, still maintains slavery.”

Mrs. Halprin said in a statement: “The vicious and totally false attack on American Jewry. Zionism and Israel in the SNCC newsletter is sadly more damaging to the cause of civil rights than it is to those besmirched in the attack. For ‘Snick’ to accuse to accuse Zionism and Israel of committing atrocities against the Arabs is so far from the historic truth that it undercuts the veracity and integrity of the accusing group.

“As one who has just returned from Israel. I can personally testify to the extensive effort being made by the Israel Government to help the Arabs achieve economic security and to restore through every possible channel normal relations between the Arabs and Jews. As innumerable correspondents and columnists who were on the scene during the six-day war have reported, the fighting–despite the charges made by ‘Snick’–was marked by a lack of atrocities that are unfortunately so often associated with warfare.

“On mature reflection, we trust the leadership of the civil rights movement, including ‘Snick’ itself, will repudiate the wild charges made in the ‘Snick’ publication. For a civil rights organization to follow the pro-Arab, Soviet racist line, is a crime against the very cause to which it is dedicated,” Mrs. Halprin pointed out.

Rabbi Miller said: “The attack by SNCC upon Israel and the Zionist movement demonstrates nothing but crude and unadulterated anti-Semitism, despite their denial. Their propaganda statements, which pattern those of the Communist and Arab extremists, reveal a dismal ignorance of the factors leading to the reestablishment of Israel as well as the facts in the Middle East situation today.

“We can only conclude that the leaders of SNCC, whose financial situation has become desperate, are making a bid for Communist and Arab support. What we are sadly witnessing is the debasement of an organization, some of whose original supporters were genuinely concerned with uplifting the underprivileged, and the beginning of the end to a group which, instead of reaching for the sunshine has now turned to digging in the mud. This so-called ‘nonviolent’ committee has done violence to truth and its own just cause by mouthing the venomous lies of the panderers of hate in this country and abroad,” the leader of the American Zionist Council concluded.

Recommended from JTA