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Don’t Judge Blacks by Jackson, Leader in Reform Movement Urges

November 7, 1989
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A ranking official of American Reform Judaism warned a Jewish audience of 3,500 here Sunday that it is “sick” and “it is racism” for Jews to judge all black politicians by Jesse Jackson.

The speaker, Albert Vorspan, a senior vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, spoke to delegates from all over the United States and Canada attending UAHC’s 60th biennial convention at the Marriott Hotel here.

“It is unrealistic and wrong to expect every black candidate for public office to perform a ritual of public repudiation of Jesse Jackson as the quid pro quo for Jewish consideration,” said Vorspan, who is director of UAHC’s Commission on Social Action.

“We do not have to support Jesse Jackson out of some misconceived Jewish guilt. I could not vote for him,” Vorspan said. “But it is sick to let him become the lens through which Jews see and judge all blacks.

“There is a name for that — it is racism It is time to exorcise that dybbuk, lest Jesse Jackson become the excuse for racial stereotyping and hatred,” Vorspan declared.

He said that “because of our Jackson syndrome, we permit the most cynical political scoundrels to play on our fears like violins.”

He urged that David Dinkins, the Democratic mayoral candidate in New York, and Doug Wilder, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, both of them black, be judged on their records and views, not because they once had some connection with Jesse Jackson.

Vorspan maintained that blacks and Jews “still work together on common projects and common concerns,” despite the fact that “the traditional black-Jewish coalition has become frayed and there are those in each community ready to write it off.”

He noted that the black and Jewish congressional caucuses “vote almost interchangeably on aid to Israel, Soviet Jewry, apartheid, and separation of church and state.

The UAHC, he said, continues its ongoing programs in black-Jewish relations through the Kivie Kaplan Institute, a joint project with the NAACP, and the Marjorie Kovler Institute, which recently made a $100,000 grant to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African anti-apartheid activist.

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