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Black Leaders Angered by Young’s Resignation, Carter’s Acceptance

August 20, 1979
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Many Black leaders, angered by what they feel was the undue haste with which the Carter Administration accepted the resignation of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations, are pointing to what they term Jewish pressure for his resignation as an essential element in this development.

At the same time, some Black leaders are seeking to defuse the tensions between Black and Jewish leaders by calling for meetings between the two communities. Young, himself, has said repeatedly since he submitted his resignation last Wednesday that his decision should not be blamed on the furor caused in the Jewish community by his meeting with a Palestine Liberation Organization official last month. And Jewish leaders are stressing that they did not ask for his dismissal and that his resignation should not be an issue between Blacks and Jews.


In a series of rapid fire developments over the weekend, Dr. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an umbrella organization comprising leaders of major Black organizations in the U.S. announced that he wants to meet with PLO leaders to continue Young’s effort “to seek peace in the Middle East.”

Lowery, who said he wants to convince the PLO to adopt the same non-violent methods to achieve self-determination that the SCLC uses in trying to achieve Black equality, and to convince them to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, said he also wants to meet with Israeli UN Ambassador Yehuda Blum. A spokesman for Blum told the Jewish Telegraphic. Agency that Blum will meet with Lowery this Tuesday. Zehadi Labib Terzi, the PLO observer at the UN, whose meeting with Young on July 26 caused the furor, said he would meet with the SCLC leader tomorrow.

Vernon Jordan, head of the National Urban-League, and Coretta Scott king, widow of the slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, called on national Black leaders to meet in Washington this week to seek clarification from the White House about Carter’s hasty acceptance of Young’s resignation. They also said they would seek a meeting with national Jewish leaders to discuss Black-Jewish relations in the aftermath of Young’s resignation.


The seething resentment over Young’s resignation was expressed in its sharpest form by Thelma Thomas Davis, president of the Delta Sigma Theta, a predominantly Black sorority group, at the group’s annual convention last week in New Orleans. She told the 6000 delegates and visitors present:

“We have been patient and forbearing in their (Jews) masquerading as friends under the pretense of working for the common purpose of civil rights. This latest affront reveals clearly that their loyalties are not compatible with the struggle of Black Americans for equal opportunity under the law. Indeed, we question whether their loyalties are first to the State of Israel or to the United States. The loyalties of Black Americans have never been questioned.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of Operation People United to Save Humanity, told a meeting of the group in Chicago yesterday: “When there wasn’t such decency in society, many Jews were willing to share decency. The conflict began when we started our quest for power….Once we began the push for our share of universal slots in institutions, Jews called them quotas and apposed us.” Nevertheless, Jackson said that while there are some deep differences between Blacks and Jews, Jewish-Black unity is the key to survival for both communities. He said many meetings would have to be held to heal the present rift.

Many Black leaders are especially bitter over the fact that while Young was reprimanded last Tuesday, a day before he resigned, by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance for meeting with Terzi, the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Milton Wolf, who also met with PLO officials on three separate occasions, was not even rebuked. They expressed the feeling that there appears to be a double standard in the two cases.


By contrast, the Department noted, Wolf reported his meetings to the Department and that he was. “reminded” of U.S. policy not to talk to the PLO until it recognizes UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Israel’s right to live within secure and recognized borders. In addition, the Department said that two of the three meetings Wolf had were “chance encounters.”

Nevertheless, Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, called upon the State Department to conduct “a full-dress inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Wolf’s meeting with PLO representatives. In a telegram to Vance, he declared that “we are not satisfied that Ambassador Wolf’s conduct was totally innocent and without the approval of the State Department. Ambassadors do not engage in sensitive meetings without the knowledge of their superiors.”


Young, himself, who said that Blacks and Jews could work out their problems, blamed Israel’s decision to make a public issue out of his meeting with Terzi for the ensuing furor. In a television interview Friday he was critical of Blum for having publicized the information about the meeting after the American envoy had confided to him about the incident.

Young contended that there was nothing wrong with meeting with PLO or any other officials whose views differ with that of the U.S. or Israel. He said that the UN was formed in order to carry on conversations between states and representatives of differing views in order to settle these differences.

Young also said that he may have to conduct more talks with PLO representatives in his role as President of the Security Council during this month when the debate on the Kuwaiti-sponsored resolution on Palestinian rights resumes Aug. 23.

Observers pointed out, however, that while the Council president is empowered to meet with representatives of any UN member states to discuss issues before the Council, Young met with Terzi last month before he took his post as Council President at the beginning of August and that the PLO is not a member state of the UN.

Young’s statement that he may have to have more discussions with PLO members prompted the State Department to respond that the Administration does not anticipate that Young will have any more dealings with the PLO until he officially leaves his post as UN Ambassador, probably sometime next month. Young is expected to serve until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate.

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