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Jews Urged Not to Permit Rhetoric of ‘black Demagogues’ Derail Justice

November 24, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jews were advised last night not to withdraw from the pursuit of justice for blacks because of “the rude and murderous rhetoric of black demagogues.” Addressing some 400 delegates to the 58th annual meeting here of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel declared that Jews who themselves have had the experience of being “despised” must understand the pain and suffering of the Negro people who “cannot obtain emancipation without the help of whites.”

Denouncing black power and its rhetoric as a “desecration of the Negro cause.” Dr. Heschel said that Jews must not permit themselves to be rebuffed and must understand that “blacks are speaking out of their agony and despair.” Dr. Heschel, professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, made his remarks as he received the League’s America’s Democratic Legacy Award.

Recalling that he came from Poland and therefore “knows what it means to live in a country where you are despised,” Dr. Heschel said that “blacks have the same feelings here.” Noting that many Jews, like other whites, are guilty of prejudice when they blame blacks, the victims, for social ills perpetrated by others, Dr. Heschel called upon Jews “to keep our tongues and souls clean” by not participating in defamation. He said that Jews must “pursue justice justly under all circumstances” by continuing to be active in the struggle for human rights. A message from President Nixon congratulating the ADL “on another year of distinguished achievement.” was read by Dore Schary, ADL’s honorary national chairman.

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