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Maass Says Koch Alienates Nyc Blacks

June 8, 1978
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Richard Maass, president of the American Jewish Committee, charged last night that the actions of Mayor Edward Koch are leading to “a rise in anti-Semitism” among Blacks in New York City and said the “Blacks have a right to feel aggrieved.” Maass, addressing 360 persons at a meeting of the local AJCommittee chapter here, warned that “a crisis stage” has developed in relations between New York’s Jewish Mayor and its Black community.

The AJCommittee leader also said there was a need for Jews to seize the opportunity provided by the signs of a fracture in the alliance between Black Africa and the Arab states. He described as “a mistake” the tendency of American Jews to focus their bitterness over the U.S. sole of warplanes to Saudi Arabia and Egypt on the “personalities” of President Carter and some of his aides, such as National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Referring to New York City’s problems, Maass said that the AJCommittee had brought the Mayor and leaders of the Black community together. He said there was a face-to-face discussion of how budget cutbacks can be made more equitably. He was critical of Koch’s “abrupt manner” toward Blacks in implementing his “you-can’t-do-more-with-less” program.


With respect to Jewish disagreements with the Carter Administration over Middle East policies, Maass observed that a climate of public opinion is being shaped by a wide spectrum of interests, in and out of government, which is being strongly influenced by demands for energy, the concerns of bankers and the commercial dealings of “producers of hardware.” He said that the AJCommittee, through recent direct talks with White House aide Hamilton Jordan and Vice President Walter F. Mondale, was urging specific policy moves to bring the Arabs into line with President Carter’s definition of “real peace” in the Middle East, now that the Arabs are to have the planes they asked for.

Maass said that American Jews had “turned their backs” on Black Africa as it became a Third World bloc with the Soviet Union and Arabs. He said the AJCommittee is at least listening to Black African leaders who are showing signs of following a different drummer than the “automatic majority” line that has characterized United Nations votes during the past five years. He cited recent statements by Black African leaders indicating their fear of Communism and Russian and Cuban influence on their continent. This attitude parallels the Israeli view of threats to peace, he said.

Maass announced that the first meeting of an AJCommittee “Task Force on Black African States” will be held in New York on June 28. It’s program will deal with “the new world economic order and its relationship to Africa,” he said.

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