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June 17, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-06-17

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2 Friday, June 11, 1983


Purely Commentary

President of Urban League
Interprets Affirmative Action
Vis-a-vis Jewish Approach

Affirmative Action on the Agenda, Challenging the
Disruptive, Calling for Amity, Especially in Black-
Jewish Quarters, as Defined by Head of Urban League

By Philip

John Jacob declaration is important for one basic reason:
tuited, namely that Jewish students are unusually
that it calls for understanding, that it suggests cooperation,
well qualified as a class, compared to any other
that it rejects divisiveness.
group of students.
What Jacob did with affirmative action is like a
You need not travel far to confirm what you
The views of a prominent black leader on the question guideline for all black-Jewish dialogues. What is needed is
also intuit, namely that black students tend to be
of affirmative action should be given serious consideration. avoidance of disrupting animosities. The attitudes toward
behind the average in educational attainment.
John Jacob, president of the Urban League, at a con- Israel often introduce uncalled for enmities -- such as black
This is not an inquiry into why this should be
ference sponsored by the Savannah State College on the associations with the PLO on a basis that is often marked
so. It is merely a recogntion that it is so, and that
subject of African-American/Jewish-American Relations, by distortion of truth and invitation to hatreds. These must
the fight between the Morris Abrams and the
emphasized the reality of black-Jewish relations. He be eliminated from good relations between two elements in
Jesse Jacksons is only at the rhetorical level a
the American population who have a record of admirable
fight about minority "rights."
When a black candidate runs for office he
It is also a fight in the case of Morris Abram,
usually can count on support from the Jewish
It is on this score that Jacob, while effectively indicat-
by someone who has fought throughout his
community, almost alone among white groups.
ing that racism and anti-Semitism have , a common root,
lifetime for civil rights for blacks, and for their
When legislators seek support for social legisla-
negates his plea for abandonment of suspicions in the two
advancement, but is not about to endorse public
tion it is most often their Jewish peers that pro-
spheres under deliberation. By declaring that blacks are
policies whose effect is to deprive well-qualified
vide that support. When blacks look to society to
now beginning to view the Palestinians as the underdogs,
Jewish students of their leverage on higher edu-
condemn racism, it is Jews who are in the foref-
on the same plane as they had treated the aspiration by
ront of those fighting against the evil of racism.
Jews for statehood in the earliest stages of Zionist idealism,
How will it end? Political liberals in Congress
The single lesson we must draw from the his-
he resorted to an unfortunate distortion. He failed to indi-
would be delighted if the courts were to step in
tory of black-Jewish relations in America is that
cate that there is an Arab minority in Israel that is not an
and forbid affirmative action.
these two groups have shared each other's pain,
underdog. He equated two extremes in underdog terminol-
There is a steady polarization on the subject,
helped each other's causes, and been closer than
ogy, overlooking historic justice in Zionism and the fact
as the storm around Reagan's appointees makes
any other of America's groups. What should be
that after the advent of Zionism there arose 22 Arab states
clear. There is simply no way the Jesse Jacksons
noted more than the friction is the continued al-
to encircle Israel and to threaten the very existence of the
of this world can maintain their credibility by
liance and mutual support we see between blacks
Jewish state. This contrary to a most interesting admoni-
suggesting that Morris Abram is opposed to civil
and. Jews, the continued coalition on issues that
tion in the Washington Post where it was stated editorially
primarily benefit people who suffer socio-
Why did Reagan appoint the three men who,
economic disadvantage, and the continued con-
The Palestinians should start asking who
though liberals, are opposed to affirmative ac-
cern among members of both groups with the
their real friends are. They could have had a state
fion? Because Reagan's view of quotas is the same
health of their affiance.
from the United Nations in 1947, with Israeli con-
as that of the ADL, the former president of the
The Chicago mayoral
sent, but their then-leadership and their Arab
American Jewish Congress and the president of
election, the cooperative
the AFT.
rejected it for them. It is past time for
spirit in Jewish leadership
some representative group of Palestinians to take
One of these days the Supreme Court is going
ranks where friendship
their people's fate out of the hands of Israelis and
to have to get around its equivocation, as in the
with blacks and devotion to
fellow Arabs, who toy with it, and to challenge
Allan Bakke case. It will have to rule on the ques-
civil rights causes are em-
Israel to negotiate peace.
tion whether the injunction to color-blindness in
phasized, attest to these
It is good to have the John Jacobs — and hopefully
public policy is to survive.
Accommodations to both theaffirmative action injunc-
John Jacob then turned there will always be many on the side of justice and com-
tions and the quota problem become inseparable and the
to the affirmative action mon sense; but it is evil to give comfort to those who would
latter cannot possibly be erased from Jewish concerns. His-
quandary and affirmed that undermine the very existence of a nation with poisonous
tory does not permit Jews to forget the tragic experiences of
"the memory of anti-Jewish propaganda. It proves injustice under the cloak of Pales-
tinianism when there is already a Palestinian state —
the numerus clausus. These were more than quotas.
quotas is strong in the col- Jordan;
and that which is labeled homelessness in describ-
They are reminders of the age of multiple bigotries when
lective memory of the
Jewish students, already having benefited from selectivity
Jewish people." Therefore, ing Arab refugeeism is really the crime of Arab states who
of being among the handful, were painfully admitted as
seek to perpetuate such ignobility as a weapon against
he asserted, some Jewish Israel.
students in.European universities. The prejudices pursued
groups were led to opposi-
John Jacob has many cherished Jewish associates in
them into the classrooms. In many instances they were
his justice-seeking movement. Together they should strive
forced to stand in the rear of classrooms, were not permitted
tion principle.
to occupy seats, were jeered at.
Here are some added quotes from the Urban League to set the record straight and not to confuse the goodwill
aspirations with poisonously-distorted Palestinian labels.
Now, Jewish students confront the current difficulties
chiefs important speech:
of acceptance on merit. Many Jewish academicians are in
But there is a world of difference between
Affirmative Action 'Quotas:
the ranks of the unemployed. Merit is ignored.
quotas designed to exclude a group and reason-
Unfortunate Infusions
It would be inhuman to deny special attitudes towards
able, temporary, numerical guidelines and
the blacks who are often on sufferance. Solutions must be
targets designed to include a group previously
of Divisive Sentiments
sought. They must be helped — and encouraged.
excluded. Without affirmative steps we simply
President Reagan stirred another hornet's nest with
This does not justify reinstitution of the numerus
sanction existing discriminatory patterns and in-
clausus — this, in the long run, is what could, as. it often
Human Rights Commission. Because of their radical views
already does, result in unfairness which cannot be
I, for,one, feel that general agreement on some
on the subject, these appointees have been subjected to
principles of effective affirmative action is possi-
criticisms that are hardly justified when a name like Mor-
It is a problem, and is not easily soluble. It needs a
ble. The seeds of such a consensus may be found
ris Abram is involved.
common ground, an understanding that will avoid bitter-
in the Supreme Court's decision in the Weber case
The high qualifications of Morris Abram raise the
ness and continuing conflict in basic views between ele-
where it set the following guidelines for voluntary
issue to an unusual level. Few personalities of eminence in
ments who haVe an obligation for unity as fellow citizens.
affirmative action programs:
this country have gained as much recognition and respect
Hopefully, the desired understanding will be reached with-
• They must mirror the purpose of the law by
for their humanism and fairness. Abram is a native Geor-
out agony.
breaking down discriminatory patterns. They
gian who has gained respect for fairness.
must not unnecessarily trammel the rights bf
In the process of the debate that has thus arisen, the
whites. And they must be temporary measures to
Hank Greenberg Meets
developing disputes involve both the matter of affirmative
eliminate racial imbalance.
His Admiring Friends
action as well as the threatened quota system. William
There is such an urgency for understanding — and no Buckley touched upon the matter in a challenging fashion
The chapter in this community's history labeled Hank
one would aspire to it more than Morris Abram — that the when he wrote in a recent Universal Press Syndicate arti-
Greenberg was reconstructed at Tiger Stadium on Sunday
opinion of the Urban Leaguer is vitally important. He con- cle:
in the ceremony that marked the retirement of the num-
tinued in his challenging speech at Savannah State Col-
A conversation in a cloistered college admis-
bers of Greenberg and Charles Gehringer — their names
sions office today would sound like this: "Dammit,
being indelible in baseball's Hall of Fame.
It seems to me those are principles that can
we've got to find enough blacks to fill our quota of
Hank became a living legend in his early years at bat.
and ought to be accepted by most of us. Where
13 percent." A couple of generations ago, the
For each of the 57 home runs accredited to him in one year
they cannot, we must learn to tolerate differences '
cloistered college admissions office would sound
he acquired a thousand new admirers. In the kitchen or the
of opinion. Resistance to affirmative action is not
like this: "Dammit, we've got to hold the Jewish
classroom, in the synagogue or the social center, every
by definition anti-black, nor is favoring affirma-
admission down to our quota of 13 percent."
successful radio report brought rejoicing. He became the
tive action something that can possibly be inter-
Non-black, non-Jews can take- (and many do)
symbol for the Tigers.
preted as negative for Jews.
a disinterested position on the controversy, and
Hank made many friends — too numerous for a listing.
The entire approach in this speech is vital to the issue
say, quite simply, that whatever you call it, it is
He remembered two of them when he spoke to the 35,000
because of the noted speaker's reminder that not all Jewish
wrong: You must not, out of an anxiety to help one
fans on Sunday — and he saluted them. He spoke of Louis
groups are opposed to affirmative action and because of his
activate a policy that ends by penalizing
Blumberg and Harold Allen as the two who welcomed him
someone who has white skin.
to the city and created friendships for him. He waved to
White support for affirmative action is distin-
One position (my own) favors affirmative ac-
them — they were there with Leonard Simons to per-
guished by the number of Jews fighting side by
tion, but only by private institutions. No public
petuate a lifelong friendship.
side with blacks to gain its acceptance.
institution has a right to discriminate against
There were many among the most prominent in the
I know the Jewish community has its neo-
someone because he is white. Private institutions
community who cheered Hank and were at as many games
conservatives that aggressively fight what most
should be free to shoulder, as they will the addi-
as they could possibly attend. Rabbi Abraham M. Hersh-
blacks are for. But blacks too, have our neo-
tional burden of helping people who need help.
man was among the admirers.
conservatives and those marching in step with a
What it comes down to is that Jewish opposi-
Louis Blumberg and Harold Allen were front-line
Reaganite view of our society. Both blacks and
tion to the quota system not only has the obvious
friends of Hank and it was admirable that he selected them
Jews are marked by an intra-group pluralism
moral base, but is also self-interested. You do not
by name in his recollections on the baseball diamond he
that make-s generalizations worthless.
need to go any further than to a student directory
helped make famous and which, in turn, gave him indelibil-
There is still a continuity of differing opinions, yet the
at Harvard or Berkeley to ratify what you in-
ity in sports history.

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