American Jewish leaders lashed back today at a group of prominent blacks who yesterday sharply criticized the Jewish community for the quality of its relations with blacks in this country.
In the latest repercussion from the resignation of Andrew Young as ambassador to the United Nations on Aug. 15, a number of Jewish groups in separate statements called for an end to the current tension between the two groups and pledged to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry "in any guise or from any source."
"We can't work with those who resort to half truths, lies, and bigotry . . . " read a statement from the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, which represents 11 national Jewish agencies and 107 Jewish community relations councils in the country. "We cannot work with those who, in failing to differentiate between the Palestinian Arabs and the PLO, give support to terrorism by legitimizing the PLO."
"We are shocked that some leaders in the black community have seized the occasion of Ambassador Young's resignation from the United Nations to damage the historic alliance between the black and Jewish communities in this country," wrote Howard M. Squadron, president of the American Jewish Congress, in a separate statement. "By Ambassador Young's own account and as every reasonable American knows, Ambassador Young's resignation is not a black-Jewish issue."
"We will not abandon our long-standing commitments to racial equality and social justice," he continued. "We will continue to work toward these goals with black leaders who are committed to these objectives and to reject anti-Semitism and bigotry."
Among the joint statements issued yesterday by black leaders here was one read by Georgia state Sen. Julian Bond which, while citing past support from the Jewish community in the civil rights movement, questioned the motives of those who gave it. Bond's statement stunned the Jewish community.
"It is . . . clear that Jewish organizations and leadership [help blacks] when it is in their perceived interest to do so, as we do," Bond said.
"Assaults on the Jewish community and attempts to denigrate its role in the civil rights movement are particularly outrageous when engaged in for the sake of reviving the sagging institutional fortunes of civil rights organizations that have seen better days," Squadron wrote in response.
The statement of the advisory committee of the national Jewish community relations council made it clear that its constituency will oppose those blacks who follow policies it regards as dangerous to America as a whole. "We cannot work with those who would succumb to Arab blackmail on the energy crisis," it said.
But it also pledged continued support for goals which black leaders have worked toward for years.
"We will continue to cooperate with the black community in the campaign for full employment. We will continue to cooperate with those in the black community who fight for fair housing, integrated quality education, health care, and equitable solutions to inflation and the energy crisis."
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, echoed in his own statement concern over the negative effects of the current feud between blacks and Jews.
"The public litany of grievances against Jews and Israel may be good thereapy and good press. It is a deplorable and counterproductive method of communication and dialogue," he wrote. "It is time to stop the rhetoric and to resume talking. Our two communities share many deep common values in the quest for social justice. Let us end the demagoguery and get back to work."