January 18, 2010, - 4:19 pm

MLK, Jr. & the Jews: King Was a Fan of Israel, Supported Its Security

By Debbie Schlussel

Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.

–Martin Luther King, Jr., March 25, 1968 speech.

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Martin Luther King: Philo-Semite, Fan of Israel, NOT Pan-Muslim

Earlier today, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement at Harvard that attacks on “Zionists” are anti-Semitism.  I wrote about it because Islamic extremists are hijacking the memory of Dr. King to further their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-national security causes. But there is more.  Congressman John Lewis, who worked closely with his friend, King, wrote this column, below, in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002.  Although I don’t share most of John Lewis’ politics (he is a liberal Democrat), he’s pro-Israel and wrote this column to note that his famous friend was, as well.

“I Have a Dream” for Peace in the Middle East: King’s Special Bond with Israel

by John Lewis

January 21, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the meaning of discrimination and oppression. He sought ways to achieve liberation and peace, and he thus understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and American Jews.

This message was true in his time and is true today.

He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation.He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.

King understood how important it is not to stand by in the face of injustice. He understood the cry, “Let my people go.”

Long before the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union was on the front pages, he raised his voice. “I cannot stand idly by, even though I happen to live in the United States and even though I happen to be an American Negro and not be concerned about what happens to the Jews in Soviet Russia. For what happens to them happens to me and you, and we must be concerned.”

During his lifetime King witnessed the birth of Israel and the continuing struggle to build a nation. He consistently reiterated his stand on the Israel — Arab conflict, stating “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable.” It was no accident that King emphasized “security” in his statements on the Middle East,

On March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his tragic death, he spoke out with clarity and directness stating, “peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

During the recent U.N. Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, we were all shocked by the attacks on Jews, Israel and Zionism. The United States of America stood up against these vicious attacks.

Once again, the words of King ran through my memory, “I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews — because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all.”

During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

King taught us many lessons. As turbulence continues to grip the Middle East, his words should continue to serve as our guide. I am convinced that were he alive today he would speak clearly calling for an end to the violence between Israelis and Arabs.

He would call upon his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yasser Arafat, to fulfill the dream of peace and do all that is within his power to stop the violence.

He would urge continuing negotiations to reduce tensions and bring about the first steps toward genuine peace.

King had a dream of an “oasis of brotherhood and democracy” in the Middle East.

As we celebrate his life and legacy, let us work for the day when Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, will be able to sit in peace “under his vine and fig tree and none shall make him afraid.”

***

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat, represents the 5th Congressional District of Georgia and worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.

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25 Responses

It is certainly true that Dr. King supported Israel and did not act in an anti-Semitic way. I was not previously aware of his support for Jews in the Soviet Union. That is interesting in light of his known associations with the Communist Party, at least in the late 50s and early 60s. Maybe he was having second thoughts about that association. An emphasis on democracy as highlighted in the excerpt in this post is certainly not compatible with Communism.

In spite of my cynicism about the Black-Jewish alliance, John Lewis certainly deserves credit for these comments.

Little Al on January 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

His support for Soviet Jews goes back to his very close friendship with Rabbi A. Heschel(author of The Prophet and numerous other books). He marched with King, and, interestingly, prior to his relationship with Dr. King, Heschel worked with Vatican II and negotiated with them regarding future relations with Jews.

Heschel was an early, vocal, and persuasive worker to free Soviet Jews, allowing them to leave. I’m not sure if this was necessarily in the direction of Israel(or the US), or just to leave, freely move. This was one of his great passions. I believe Dr. King mentioned Soviet Jews out of his respect and love for his friend A. Heschel. I also have read that many of the old civil rights crowd read and love his book on the prophets.

David Oberlander on January 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Lewis writes, ” He [King] would call upon his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yasser Arafat, to fulfill the dream of peace and do all that is within his power to stop the violence.”

I rather suspect King would have seen Arafat as the thug and Jew hater he was, and considered that any dialogue with him would prove fruitless.

Raymond in DC on January 18, 2010 at 6:04 pm

MLK was a great man, but, with great faults too. His stand on Israel is interesting in contrast to the calypso looie’s and Al Sharpton’s of the day–the Jesse Jackson’s and their anti-Semitic comments through the years.

BB on January 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I didn’t say it. MLK did: “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

…btw I went and checked google about a week ago for this info and the top link went to a page that said the quote was contextually wrong, but then didn’t elaborate. Google has since fixed the link. kind of funny because I made a url shortner for it and everything http://xrl.us/ZionistMLK …I made this URL last week. the address is the same, but the listing is now different.

we are on the same wave length Debbie

Noah David Simon on January 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

http://www.lulu.com/product/download/everybody-is-somebodys-jew/3942265

The above link is a free download that EXPLORES the time when Jews & Negroes were STILL friends, even though they were on the road to alienation THEN!

We BOTH know that neither you or I will ever get an NAACP IMAGE Award because we both point out some inconvenient TRUTHS, but IF you neo-puritanical audience can get by the STREETy beginning…..

EminemsRevenge on January 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Yawn.

    Worry01 on January 19, 2010 at 12:14 am

When I think of Martin Luther King jr, I think of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching arm in arm for civil rights in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama.

I did not know about that, until I began reading the books of Rabbi Heschel.

Israel 4 Zion on January 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm

An African American customer came in yesterday and was complaining about working everyday that he lost track and thought it was Saturday.

I told him that he will be off on MLK jr’s. day. His response was “people over rated Obama and gave him the Nobel peace prize for nothing, Mlk was one of a kind and deserves it more than anybody else mainly Obama and Yasser Arafat”.

Then he said how could I take a day off when I am working for myself in the Obama era”.

I was surprised and I agreed with him.

Hopefully people started seeing the truth.

Daniel. on January 18, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I live in Georgia’s 5th. Rep. Lewis is HORRIBLE at getting back to constituents. But this earns him a sliver of respect.

Christopher Calandro on January 19, 2010 at 1:29 am

King may have been a fan of Israel, but as a man married to Coretta, he was also a fan of lots of kinky sex with admiring white women, the same race he railed against. he was also a fan of jumping 2 feet in the air every time a car backfired according to his own entourage.

just a schmuck on January 19, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is from White Nationalist in the net (link not provided because Debbie might delete it). Is this truth or just made up accusation by the White Supremacies?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had for many years been aware of Stanley Levison’s Communist activities. It was Levison’s close association with King that brought about the initial FBI interest in King.

Lest you be tempted to believe the controlled media’s lie about “racists” in the FBI being out to “get” King, you should be aware that the man most responsible for the FBI’s probe of
King was Assistant Director William C. Sullivan. Sullivan describes himself as a liberal, and says that initially “I was one hundred per cent for King…because I saw him as an effective and badly needed leader for the Black people in their desire for civil rights.” The probe of King not only confirmed their suspicions about King’s Communist beliefs and associations, but it also revealed King to be a despicable hypocrite, an immoral degenerate, and a worthless charlatan.

According to Assistant Director Sullivan, who had direct access to the surveillance files on King which are denied the American people, King had embezzled or misapplied substantial amounts of money contributed to the “civil rights” movement. King used SCLC funds to pay for liquor, and numerous prostitutes both Black and White, who were brought to his hotel rooms, often two at a time, for drunken sex parties which sometimes lasted for several days. These types of activities were the norm for King’s speaking and organizing tours.

SpicaChang on January 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

    About 99.9% of your information regarding Martin Luther King is false. While it is true that the FBI tried to smear MLK, there is no evidence in FBI files regarding any of those libelous comments. You should use common sense and understand that information coming from a White “Supremacist,” Skinhead, “Neo-Nazi,” Muslim, or anti-Semitic website will prove to be nothing but lies. It’s a simple rule-of-thumb that will never let you down.

    However, let me cover the 0.1% of your post that contains a scintilla of truth. Stanley Levison, who was an advisor to MLK was at one time, a communist. Note that I said he WAS a communist. Levison was in the leadership of the Communist Party USA (“CPUSA”) in the 1950s. The FBI had him under the surveillance of Jack and Morris Childs, two former CPUSA members who became FBI informants. According to the FBI, Levison’s CPUSA activities ENDED in 1957.

    As an advisor to MLK, Levison wrote speeches for MLK and Levison was instrumental in all the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (“SCLC”), the organization established by King and other Southern black preachers. Levison was a businessman and an attorney.

    Although there was no evidence of Levison having further ties to the CPUSA, the FBI used his earlier CP history to justify wiretaps and bugs on MLK’s offices and the offices and hotel rooms. Those wiretaps were authorized by then attorney general Robert Kennedy. However, neither Kennedy nor FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, considered King to be a communist. But it was no secret that MLK opposed the war in Vietnam, and Hoover and others in Washington considered King to be a threat to the government goals at the time to escalate the Vietnam war.

    So, throw out the crap you quoted, clear your mind from the muck and do some serious reading from reputable sources if you want to obtain genuine knowledge.

    Ralph Adamo on February 1, 2011 at 3:14 am

    I’d say that 99.9% of your information regarding Martin Luther King is false. While it is true that the FBI tried to smear MLK, there is no evidence in FBI files regarding any of those libelous comments. Use common sense and understand that information coming from a White “Supremacist,” Skinhead, “Neo-Nazi,” Muslim, or anti-Semitic website will prove to be nothing but lies. It’s a simple rule-of-thumb that will never let you down.

    However, let me cover the 0.1% of your post that contains a scintilla of truth. Stanley Levison, who was an advisor to MLK was at one time, a communist. Note that I said he WAS a communist. Levison was in the leadership of the Communist Party USA (“CPUSA”) in the 1950s. The FBI had him under the surveillance of Jack and Morris Childs, two former CPUSA members who became FBI informants. According to the FBI, Levison’s CPUSA activities ENDED in 1957.

    As an advisor to MLK, Levison wrote speeches for MLK and Levison was instrumental in all the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (“SCLC”), the organization established by King and other Southern black preachers. Levison was a businessman and an attorney.

    Although there was no evidence of Levison having further ties to the CPUSA, the FBI used his earlier CP history to justify wiretaps and bugs on MLK’s offices and the offices and hotel rooms. Those wiretaps were authorized by then attorney general Robert Kennedy. However, neither Kennedy nor FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, considered King to be a communist. But it was no secret that MLK opposed the war in Vietnam, and Hoover and others in Washington considered King to be a threat to the government goals at the time to escalate the Vietnam war.

    So, throw out the crap you quoted, clear your mind from the muck and do some serious reading from reputable sources if you want to obtain genuine knowledge.

    Ralph Adamo on February 1, 2011 at 3:18 am

I always liked John Lewis. I don’t agree with most of his liberal policy preferences and proposals, but John Lewis is a fairly decent man by Congressional standards. It’s a shame that Rep. Lewis’ views on Dr. King, Jews and Israel aren’t more widely held in the African-American community.

I’m glad he took time to write that piece in the San Fransisco Chronicle back in 2002. As I’m sure most of you know, San Fransisco is a hotbed of leftwing anti-Semitism.

There is NO Santa Claus on January 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

I really think African American’s have gone BACKWARDS for the most part since the 1960’s and King was a communist and I don’t know any real communist who in the end are friends of the Jewish people when it really counts and that includes Jewish communists.

In the 1950’s African Americans 80% of them lived with both parents. Now most live in a single mother home thanks to the government encouraging women to go in welfare and G-d forbid they should marry a man that works. A lot of the men become what they are because they had no father.

I am reading Thomas Sewell’s book of letters and while he talks about some discrimination (and some cases where he was treated well as well) he doesn’t feel hand outs will solve the problem. Have things became better or worse single MLK. They have become worse and he supported big government to solve these problems and not hard work and initiative which is what African Americans need more then anything else.

And the gov’t is racist towards them in doing what they can to always discriminate against Black men in favor of Black women. Just look at harlem they have a public school for girls but not for boys. Do you think they would happen in a white neighborhood. No. And 67% who go to college are female. This was according to a book written by Christian Hoff-Summers on the war against boys and how it especially harsh on minority boys while helping the women of that group.

adam on January 19, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Would he support Israel’s violent attacks on Arabs to brutalize, kill, and steal THEIR lands, or, the largest open air concentration camps in the West Bank and Gaza strips – I think NOT – especially as Israel treats BOTH Arabs and Blacks as second class citizens.

CN on January 15, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Given that MLK was alive in the summer of 1967, and did not criticize the Israelis for taking over the West Bank (without which, Israel is indefensible).

    Occam's Tool on June 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm

We had a surrealistic experience at the San Francisco march in tribute to Dr. King. A group of 20 or so Palestinian supporters showed up with anti-Israel signs and banners, and attempted to rile up the crowd with anti-Israel chants. Little by little, the disgusted crowd moved away from them, disgusted by their attempt to hijack the King rally.

Dusty on January 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

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