Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK on Zionism: Fact and Almost-Fact

When I was little I used to like a kiddie show called "Bozo's Circus". There was a live audience of tots at every episode; this was such a coveted, hard to get privilege that it was not uncommon for parents to put their infants on the waiting list, in the hopes that years later when they were old enough, their turn for the show would finally come up.

In addition to cartoons and comedy sketches, the show always had contests and challenges involving the diminutive audience members. One aspect of these I remember is that there were never "winners" and "losers", just "winners" and "almost-winners". The prizes would typically be on the order of three bags of candy for the winners, and two bags for the "almost winners".

What is the relevance of this to today's holiday? Nothing all that deep, to be sure. But my brain made this connection today when I researched Dr. Martin Luther King's famous, oft-quoted "Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend", only to discover, to my chagrin, that the letter is apparently a hoax, as confirmed by Camera and other sources.

However, although not actual, the letter is at least in tune with Dr. King's real personal beliefs regarding Jews and Israel; an "almost-fact", if you will. As he was positively confirmed to have said at a 1968 Harvard University appearance:
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews; you are talking anti-Semitism.”

Here are some more genuine quotes from the man of peace, freedom, and justice whose legacy we celebrate today:
"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.”

“Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable.”

“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.”

“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.”
Amen, brother. Rest in Peace


At 1/16/06, 10:50 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Most cities had a Bozo show. (I'm really off point, I know.) One Pesach we were taken to Bozo. I was about 7. Before those in the Studio audience left, they were given goody bags. Well this was Pesach and I was 7 or so. So I went up to Bozo and tried to explain to him that I couldn't take the treats home because it was Pesach and they weren't Kosher for Pesach.

The one problem I have with saying what MLK felt is that given the changes that have occurred to the Civil Rights movement in the past 35+ years isn't it likely that he would have changed too? (Jesse Jackson, it is said, was once adamantly opposed to abortion.)
I don't doubt that he was solidly pro-Israel when he was alive. I just wonder if he would have stayed that way.

At 1/17/06, 12:09 PM, Blogger Elie said...


The Bozo comment is not off-point. I purposely included these two completely unrelated topics in a single post using a flimsy connector. It's one of my favorite ways to post!

I think you're right that there were many local versions of Bozo. The original was broadcast out of Chicago and that's the one that I had heard was so hard to get on (possibly an urban legend; can't fimnd it on Snopes).

In terms of MLK, who could guess how he or anyone who passed from the scene in the 60s, would have changed an evolved over the subsequent decades? And the topic of how the Black/Jewish alliance soured after its early heydey in the Civil Rights era is much debated, and I wouldn't presume to offer an uninformed opinion.

But I have to believe though, that Dr. King was a man of integrity and conviction, and would not have joined with the likes of Farrakhan and Sharpton. Maybe if MLK had lived, Jesse Jackson and even those others would have taken less anti-Jewish positions. No way to ever know.

At 1/23/06, 11:38 PM, Blogger Batya said...

As a Soviet Jewry activist in the '60's and disgusted that my fellow Jews were only concerned with "civil rights," I ignored MLK and all those issues.


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