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March 29, 1985 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, March 29, 1985

Advertising in The Jewish News Gets Results
Place Your Ad Today. Call 354-6060

Toptritut 5 Fabulous Feasts

GREAT LOBSTER oik PRIME RIB
& STEAK Cari
OF BEEF
vri

Cleaver Changes Stand

San Francisco (JTA) — El-
dridge Cleaver's transformation
is so radical that no one could rec-
ognize the once militant Black
Panther, ex-convict and author of
Soul on Ice in his soft-spoken,
born-again patriot-pro-Reagan,
anti-Communist and stanchly
pro-Israel role.
Cleaver has forsaken the tenets
— both racial and ideological
8 that made him one of the lead-
ing advocates of revolution and
earned him 30,000 votes nation-
ally as a Presidential candidate in
1968.
Instead of denouncing Ameri-
can capitalism on college cam-
puses, he addressed Jews in Los
Angeles in a talk sponsored by the
Jewish Defense Organization.
And his most militant act was get-
ting arrested in a fight against
rent control laws.
Today, nine years after his re-
turn from exile in Cuba, North
Korea, Algeria and other Third
World countries, Cleaver is quick
to speak out against the "Holy
War theocratic states which
threaten Israel," against Jesse
Jackson's anti-Semitic slurs,
against Berkeley Gus Newport's
Arab connections.
"Twenty years ago I was a
thousand times closer to Jews.
Jewish people got me out of jail,
all the way up to Leonard Berns-
tein. The problem is the people I
was hooked up with were Jewish
leftists," says Cleaver, who is now
seeking support from the Jewish
businessmen and professionals
who support Israel and have tired
of what Cleaver terms "Berkeley's
politics of the hidden agenda — all
ideological."
The old, militant Cleaver had
never thought through the prob-
lems of the Middle East, he now
says. His view, like that of leftists
and leftist Jews who still live in
Berkeley, was derived from his
thoughts about politics in
America. "I used to basically sup-
port the Palestinians because
they were a Third World people
seeking liberation like the Blacks
in America," says Cleaver. "As for
Israel, I opposed its existence be-
cause it received support from
American imperialists."
His feelings about the Middle
East now sound similar to those of
a conservative Israeli. "I went
through an evolution," says
Cleaver. "First I began recogniz-
ing Israel as a legitimate state,
and from that point on, I saw that
it wasn't right to support the
existence of an entity without giv-

ing it security and guaranteeing
its borders.
"I believe in looking at Israel
through Jewish history. The
existence of Israel has positively
transformed the position of Jews
after the great slaughters, the
pogroms, the Holocaust."
Cleaver accused Jackson of
"pure opportunism" in turning to
Black Muslim leader Louis Far-
rakhan for support. "I accuse
Jesse Jackson of squandering the
political capital that Blacks have
invested in him. Because of him,
the Democratic Party is the most
threatening to Israel and has lost
the support of the Jewish commu-
nity."
"But here in Berkeley," says
Cleaver, shaking his head, "you
have Jews for Jesse Jackson and
Jews who supported Measure E.
Then you have state politics
where people who supported Jesse
Jackson are running with people
who opposed him. The people who
support Jesse Jackson and those
who supported Measure E ought
to be punished at the polls."
Measure E, which an American
Arab group sought to place on the
state ballot in the Presidential
primary last June, called for cuts
in U.S. aid to Israel equal to Is-
raeli expenditures for West Bank
settlements. It was defeated by
more than a 2-1 margin in the
June 5 primary.
Until now, claims Cleaver, he
has been excluded from
mainstream politics because of a
vendetta by established black
leaders. His religious and politi-
cal vagaries — Cleaver, once a
Black Muslim, is now a Mormon
— have left Cleaver few organized
allies. He supports himself by sell-
ing the bulky flowerpots he makes
out of rocks and cement while his
wife, Kathleen, attends Yale Law
School.
"I often speak to the rabbi in
Escondido who makes peppermint
soap with religious messages in it.
We agree that people who speak
and can't use their hands turn
doctrine into a graveyard."
Cleaver, who now wears bifoc-
als and writes and copies his cam-
paign literature through an IBM
computer while he watches cable
news on his color television set,
says, "Everyone else has changed.
I went to the Bank of America the
other day and met a man with a
neatly trimmed beard who told
me he admired me when I was a
Black Panther but now hates my
guts. 'What are you doing here?' I
asked him. 'Robbing the bank?' "

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63

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