VOL. 63 - NO. 43 SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1973 - A-1 AMERICA'S LARGEST WEEKLY This issue Published in four sections
Blacks And The Mideast
By ROBERT S. BROWNE
Should the Black Community have a position On The Middle Eastern War?
The tragic impotence of America's 23 million Black people is seldom demonstrated more dramatically than it was last week following the State Department's announcement that it had begun to ship arms and planes to Israel.
This momentous decision will result in the immediate diversion and destruction of hundreds of millions of dollars of American resources with attendant inflationary starving of the few remaining social programs which provide some benefits to Blacks - programs, incidentally, for which we have been steadily told there was "no money."
Far graver than these economic effects, however, (for it can be argued that the war spending will stimulate the economy whereas the Government's refusal to spend on social programs was depressing it) are the potentially explosive social effects which a U.S. intervention in the Middle East conflict can precipitate.
The shipping of arms is frequently the first step leading toward the sending of troops and there have already been hints that armed U.S. intervention against the Arabs is an option under active consideration should certain circumstances arise.
Yet where are the Black voices that should be speaking out on so grave a matter? Where is the debate whithin the Black community? We often boast that we are the second largest Black nation (after Nigeria) but does it really mean anything if we are too impotent to express ourselves?
It may be unrealistic to expect Black leadership to take a position on the merits of one side or the other in this Middle Eastern conflict.
Not only are the issues themselves quite complex, but it is a significant reality that liberal Jewish money continues to be a major, if diminishing, source of support for many national Black causes.
Furthermore, the Arab world, which has the financial capability to offer significant help to those Black American groups which are attempting to build and independent economic base for the Black struggle here in America.
Black leadership, therefore, may be behaving rationally by refraining from taking sides on the merits of the conflict.
This does not, however, excuse it from failing to see the long-run implications for Black America of the U.S. involvement in that war and for taking steps to make its concern known both to the leaders of the American government and to the Black community generally.
As disciples of Martin Luther King, Jr. we should be deploring the arming of both the Arabs and Israelis by the great industrial powers which are content to prolong the war and the sufering for their own cynical purposes.
Sad to say, perhaps even a demand for U.S. non-intervention is too radical a position to expect our leadership to take.
As a minimum, however, our leaders should at least be letting it known that in view of the tense racial situations prevailing in many of our cities. Black servicement should under no circumstances be forced into the position of having to take up arms against the Arabs in support of Israel.
Are we even too impotent to ask for this?
(Robert S. Browne is a member of the Amsterdam News Editorial Board).
N. Y. AMSTERDAM NEWS Sat., Nov. 24, 1973 -- A-5
Black Independence Is Not Anti-Semitism
By ROBERT S. BROWNE
On November 11th, this newspaper 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, editor 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 expected 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 significant segment of the Jewish community, we must ask what gives him the right to dictate the news and editorial content of a major Black newspaper?
Indeed, the very fact that such an incident took place illustrates an issue which my October 27th article was raising:
Is Black leadership so intimidated by its ties to the Jewish community that it cannot articulate positions which might collide with Jewish aspirations?
The fact that the Amsterdam News printed my article (which was not necessarily reflective of the paper's own position) indicates that the Amsterdam has not abandoned its responsibility.
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 our 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 any charge of anti-Semitism if it could be shown that there was any basis for the charge.
In fact, I have on occasion compromised my own legitimacy with some elements of the Black community by my vigorous intolerance 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 antiSemitic when within the Black community we are viewed as being "soft" on the Jewish question.
Fortunately, there are a number of Jews who are rational enough to perceive the Palestinian conflict as a political issue which has a dynamic of its own which is only peripherally related to Jewishness as such. As a very young man, my concerns 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 expense. 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. Currently, it has managed to divert attention away from Watergate and it threatens to leave our homes chilly and our cars inoperative.
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.
I can think of few actions more likely to ignite such explosions or to encourage anti-Semitic expressions in the Black community than the ordering 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 community is sufficiently sympathetic to the Israeli cause to want to die for it and I know that Black youth will vigorously protest any effort to inject it into a war against other nonwhite peoples, and especially in support of whites.
Although neither of these attitudes has anything to do with antiSemitism, the reaction may well turn into anti-Semitism, and it was as a warning against such an eventuality that my article was written.
I might add that my fears are apparently 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 comment also to be viewed as antiSemitic?
No, I am not anti-Semitic and despite the hysterical goading of illadvised Jewish agitators, I am not likely to become anti-Semitic because 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 intimidate the Black community, but toward the Black leadership which supinely acquiesces in such intimidation.
Did 12 of our 16 Black Congressmen really feel that their constituencies wanted them to cosponsor legislation authorizing arms shipments to Israel? And why were pressures exerted on the 4 (Chisholm, Conyers, Dellums, Mitchell) who didn't agree to be cosponsors?
The time is long overdue for Black leadership to assert the independence 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 continuing to be political lackeys.
(Robert S. Browne Is a Member of The Amsterdam News Editorial Board)
66 - NO.2 SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 1975 -- A-T AMERICA'S LARGEST WEEKLY This issue Published in four sections
Kissinger's Threat: Do Blacks Fit In?
By ROBERT BROWNE
It was a little more than a year ago that I felt obliged to write an article in this newspaper expressing my concern over Washington's unbecoming eagerness to support Israel's requests for billions of dollars of supplementary military aid to assist it in the most recent installment of its quarter-century old war with its Arab neighbors.
I warned at that time that the proespect of sending US troops to fight for Israel raised a number of ugle spectures within the Black community, especially in view of the high percentage of Black troops who now constitute a part of the American military establishment. Fortunately, we were spared an armed intervention by Washington during that crisis, although the Arab-Israeli dispute remains unresolved and the potential for a renewal of major fighting continues to be high.
White Ameria's tendency to pick up a gun whenever it can't have its way continues unabated, hwever, and this week we were treated to a carefully orchestrated sabre-rattling coming from the very portals of the White House itself. We had hoped that the era of gunboat diplomacy had ended but we were mistaken.
Henry Kissinger, with the admitted authority of the President, had raised the prospect of military action by the U.S. if the OPEC countries fail to make their oil available to the non-oil-producing countries on terms which we find to be satisfactory.
This statement was clearly meant to be a veiled threat to the oil producing countries, and was so interpreted by them.
Who are the OPEC countries and why is Washington threatening to launch an attack on them?
The letters OPEC stand for
(Continued on Page A-3)
(Continued from Page A-1)
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and its members are relatively industrialized Third World nations.
One of the major US suppliers in OPEC [illegible] Nigeria, which currently sells in excess [illegible] barrels of oil per day to this country.
All of the OPEC countries suffer from [illegible] underdevelopment of their economies, largely as a result of a long history of open or disguised colonialism and exploitation by Europe and the United States.
Decline of west
Their recent success in wresting control of their petroleum resources from the international oil companies and in establishing a more just price for it constitutes a first step in a long overdue reallocation of wealth and power in the [illegible] - a reallocation away from the industrialized West which has for so long [illegible] a phenomenally high standard of [illegible] as a result of its ability to exploit the [illegible] and the resources of others, and [illegible] those who had been the West's [illegible].
There is indeed a "Decline of the West" [illegible] place, but it is most accurately [illegible] as a convulsive lurch in the [illegible] of greater equity among nations.
The movement is neither smooth nor [illegible]. During this first year of [illegible], the newly rich OPEC countries [illegible] displayed very little sensitivity to nor [illegible] for the many Third World nations who are being rendered even more destitute by the new oil pricing [illegible].
They have exhibited remarkably little understanding of our Black community here in America. The Arab nations demonstrated some political solidarity with the Africans at the United Nations in votes on South Africa but these were largely quid pro quo stances traded off for African support on the Palestine question.
But despite this somewhat disappointing first year performance, the overall thrust of the OPEC effort is a correct one in that it offers the first significant attack on the intolerable mat distribution of income which has characterized the modern world. (The U.S., for example, has recently been consuming 40 percent of the world's annual production although it has only 6 percent of the world's population).
Althought we do not find it surprising that the President and Dr. Kissinger would wish to prevent this re-distribution from taking place, we wonder what sort of justification they can find for opposing it. Even using our own country's practices as a yardstick, there is no mechanism to oblige someone to sell his products to another, and certainly not to sell them at a price set by the buyer.
Washington's threat to use force to take the oil thrust presages a complete break down of the remaining badace of a national morality in this country. Even the flimsy pretext used to justify our intervention in Vietnam (a pretext which Washington still remains unable to clarify) is lacking.
We will suffer
And where do we Blacks fit into this complicated scenario? Well, as Americans we can expect to suffer along with others as the U.S. standard of living ceases to rise.
The sobering thought here is that, if we Blacks are ever to get a larger piece of the pie for ourselves it will have to be by reducing the slice held by the white community, because the pie won't be growing larger every year as it has done in the past.
Another sobering thought is that the armed forces are still gettting Blacker every day. If the U.S. goes to war this year, it won't be a case of American Blacks shoting Arabs to save Jews, but of American Blacks shooting Nigerians in order to take their oil.
It's not a pretty scenario and it's time for we Black folks to get our thoughts together - before someone else gets them together for us!