Sunday, August 18, 2013

  • Sunday, August 18, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
As the US gets ready to mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous March on Washington, it is a good time to remember one of the organizers of the march, one of King's colleagues, and an indefatigable supporter of civil rights, Bayard Rustin, who will be posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Rustin was not only a famous supporter of civil rights, but he also supported gay rights, was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism, and a staunch supporter of Israel. As the book "Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement" notes:

Rustin always wrote and spoke against anti-Semitism. In the summer of 1967, the SNCC Newsletter published a pro-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), anti-Israel article, which Rustin was quick to denounce....

Rustin was a strong supporter of Israel. As in the SNCC Newsletter, black anti-Semitism often took the form of opposing Israel and supporting the PLO as representing victims of imperialistic "Zionism." Rustin, in contrast, saw the Jewish state as a social democratic island surrounded by theocratic dictatorships. In supporting Israel, he was supporting a cause important to most Jews and, by implication, showing that the much publicized anti-Semitic statements of black militants did not represent a broad black viewpoint. In June 1970, the A. Philip Randolph Institute ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, "An Appeal by Black Americans for United States Support to Israel." The ad expressed support for "the most democratic country in the Middle East." It was sympathetic to the plight of Arab refugees but argued that continued conflict did them more harm than good. In its last line, the text urged that the United States provide Israel "with the full number of jet aircraft it has requested."

This was an astonishing statement for someone who had once been a pacifist.
In his column, Rustin frequently spoke out for Israel. Here is his column about the Yom Kippur War:

Rustin was also the director of BASIC, the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee, which published this remarkable full page ad in the New York Times when the UN was about to vote on the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution. Here is the entire ad, with the notable African Americans who signed it (including Hank Aaron, Harry Belafonte, Vernon Jordan and others)  formatted to you can read it here:

See also Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers and Gil Troy.

(h/t Faith M.)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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