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N. Y. AMSTERDAM NEWS Sat., Nov. 24, 1973--A-5

Black Independence Is Not Anti-Semitism

Opinion

By ROBERT S. BROWNE
On November 11th, this newspa-
per and its editor, Clarence Jones,
were charged with anti-Semitism
and subjected to an attack by
an interviewer on a local television
station.

The evidence offered to support
the charge was an article which I
wrote for the October 27th issue, as
well as the fact that the Amsterdam
News had published letters from
readers which were not supportive
of Israel and that it had given front
page coverage to Nigeria's rupture
of diplomatic relations with Israel.

Needless to say, edior Jones
silenced his critic effectively,
pointing out that a responsible Black
press is expected to carry the full
range of views prevalent among its
readers and could hardly be ex-
pected to withhold news merely
because it might be distasteful to
some individuals or groups.

By What Right?

In my opinion, our editor was, if
anything, too polite with his critic. If
we assume that his questioner was
reflecting the views of any signifi-
cant segment of the Jewish commu-
nity, we must ask what gives him
the right to dictate the news and edi-
torial content of a major Black
newspaper?

Indeed, the very fact that such an
incident took place illustrates an

[column 2]
issue which my October 27th article
was raising:

Is Black leadership so intimi-
dated by its ties to the Jewish com-
munity that it cannot articulate
positions which might collide with
Jewish aspirations?

The fact that the Amsterdam
News printed my article (which was
not necessarily of the
paper's own position) indicates that
the Amsterdam has not abandoned
its responsibility.

[column 3]
But the fact that it was promptly
attacked for doing so, with the full
extent of the retaliation not yet
known, explains why so little
courage is displayed in this matter
by most of the Black leaders.

No Defense Needed

As for my editorial, I feel that it
calls for no defense. As a humanist,
I would be extremely sensitive to
my charge of Anti-Semitism if it
could be shown that there was any
basis for that charge.

In fact, I have on occasion
compromised my own legitimacy
with some elements of the Black
community by my vigorous intoler-
ance of the anti-Semitic sentiments
which one sometimes hears being
expressed.

Consequently, it is somewhat
ironic that I along with Clarence
Jones and The Amsterdam News,
should be under attack from the
Jewish community for being anti-
Semitic when within the Black com-
munity we are viewed as being
"soft" on the Jewish question.

Political Issue

Fortunately, there are a number
of Jews who are rational enough to

[column 4]
percieve the Palestinian conflict as
a political issue which has a dynam-
ic of its own which is only peripher-
ally related to Jewishness as such.

As a very young man, my con-
cerns about the human side of this
conflict led me to visit both Israel
and the neighboring Arab countries
twenty years ago, and at my own ex-
pense. My interest in the area has
not waned during the subsequent
two tragic decades and no one can
challenge my eagerness to see the
most equitable possible settlement
reached there.

However, we must recognize that
the conflict over Palestine has led to
tragic repercussions in areas far
removed from the Middle East. Cur-
rently, it has managed to divert at-
tention away from Watergate and it
threatens to leave our homes chilly
and our cars imoperative.

The plea in my article was that it
not be permitted to become a
catalyst for Black vs. Jewish
hostilities in our inner cities where
interracial tension is already so
near the surface that we have begun
to accept minor eruptions as the
norm.

[column 5]
I can think of few actions more
likely to ignite such explosions or to
encourage anti-Semitic expressions
in the Black community than the or-
dering of Black troops into combat
against the Arabs in support of
Israel, and the thrust of my editorial
was thag Black leaders had an
obligation to insure that Black
troops were not so used.

I do not feel that the Black com-
munity is significantly sympathetic
to the Israeli cause to want to die for
it and I know that Black youth will
vigorously protest any effort to in-
ject it into a war against other non-
white peoples, and especially in sup-
port of whites.

A Warning

Although neither of these atti-
tudes has anything to do with anti-
Semitism the reaction may well
turn into anti-Semitism, and it was
as a warning against such an even-
tuality that my article was written.

I might add that my fears are ap-
parently shared in high Jewish
circles because the executive vice
president of the American Jewish
Committee has himself warned the
Jewish community "to be alert to an
anti-Semitic backlash" in the wake
of the Middle East war. Is his com-
ment also to be viewed as anti-
Semitic?

No, I am not anti-Semitic and
despite the hysterical goading of ill-

[column 6]
advised Jewish agitators, I am not
likely to become Anti-Semitic be-
cause I find it a totally abhorrent
concept. However, I strongly resent
being intimidated by anyone.

But my greatest resentment is
not directed toward the Jewish
power brokers who attempt to in-
timidate the Black community, but
toward the Black leadership which
supinely acquiesces in such intimi-
dation.

Did 12 of our 16 Black Con-
gressmen really feel that their con-
stituencies wanted them to co-
sponser legislation authorizing
arms shipments to Israel? And why
were pressures exerted on the 4
(Chisholm, Conyers, Dellums, Mit-
chell) who didn't agree to be co-
sponsers?

The time is long overdue for
Black leadership to assert the in-
dependence of thought and action
which the increasing political
strength of the Black community is
now making possible. Although we
are gravely lacking in economic
resources, we have the possibility of
translating our political power into
economic power if we conduct our
affairs wisely.

It cannot be done by our con-
tinuing to be political lackeys.

(Robert S. Browne Is a Member of
The Amsterdam News
Editorial Board)

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