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On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in a unaminous decision that the
"separate but equal" clause was unconsitutional.
fessor at Columbia University's School
of Law. Greenberg said he wasn't driven
by his religion but more by his
upbringing in the socialist Zionist
movement of Jews who had immigrat-
ed from Eastern Europe.
"We were social activists," he said.
"Back then, we'd call them socialists;
now you'd call them liberals."
Several other Jews who aided the
NAACP went on to distinguished legal
careers, including Judge Jack Weinstein
of the U.S. District Court of the
Eastern District of New York in
Brooklyn, and Judge Louis Pollack of
the U.S. District Court for the East
District of Pennsylvania in
But, Greenberg said, not all Jews
were "on the good side."
"Some of the lawyers in the South
who led the opposition were Jewish,"
The Brown case led to a partnership
between blacks and Jews that helped
herald the civil rights era. "It was a
landmark in what the relationship
could achieve," Saperstein said. It led to
the drafting of civil rights legislation,
some of which was written on the con-
ference table in the RAC's Washington
"This really did prove to them that
they could use the political legal system
to achieve integration and stop legal
discrimination in America," he said.
But blacks and Jews have not enjoyed
an entire half-century of friendship.
Most significantly, many Jewish
organizations broke with black groups
in 1978, coming out against the affir-
mative action policies for which many
blacks were fighting. The ADLs leader
at the time, Nathan Perlmutter, was
one of the leading spokesmen against
race-based criteria for admission to col-
leges and universities.
Leaders of Jewish groups said the
rejection of quotas for affirmative
action came largely in light of numeri-
cal limits on Jewish enrollment in
European and American universities in
the 1920s. Even last year, when the
University of Michigan's affirmative
action policies came to the Supreme
Court, the Jewish community was split.
ADL opposed the Ann Arbor-based
university's standard of giving minority
applicants 20 extra points on a 100-
point admission-scoring scale, while the
AJCommittee reversed course from
1978 and backed Michigan. The court
ruled last June that affirmative action
programs are legal but struck down the
point system Michigan used for under-
More recently, black and Jewish
groups have sparred over policy priori-
ties, each seeking more support than
the other for key legislative agenda
items. In addition, anti-Israel and anti-
Jewish comments by some blacks have
The black community was angered
by Jewish. groups' call for a boycott of
the 2001 United Nations Conference
on Racism in Durban, South Africa,
because of the conference's vehement
But black and other non-Jewish
groups chose to back the Jewish com-
munity last month when it worked to
minimize European anti-Semitism at a
conference in Berlin. The Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights joined
Jewish leaders in Germany, providing
information to European states on tools
to combat discrimination. ❑
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