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Jewish Journal

Rev. Lee ‘unequivocally’ denounces anti-Semitism

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 10, 2008 | 4:01 pm

The Rev. Eric Lee, the local head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has been trying to smooth the waters since Jewish philanthropist Daphna Ziman accused him of saying blacks and Jews would never come together because “The Jews have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us.”

Yesterday Lee issued an official statement denying Ziman’s account. And today he sent her an apology, which just arrived in my inbox and I have pasted below in its entirety.

It is with deep regret and my sincerest apologies that any comments I have made have caused you pain and distress.  It was never my intent to insult you or the Jewish community, with whom I have a respected and long standing relationship.  It is my hope that any misunderstandings may be clarified such that both our communities may move forward with mutual respect and a commitment to our shared struggles against any form of injustice.

As a Christian, and as an African American, we have long embraced the history of Israel’s plight of slavery, oppression, deliverance and freedom as symbolic of African American’s plight against slavery, oppression, deliverance and freedom.  Our communities are joined together in this struggle.

I unequivocally denounce any anti-Semitic sentiments, statements and behavior and assure you that such hatred is not reflective of my character and my work.  Specifically, I do not believe, and the SCLC does not subscribe to the belief, that Jews control the entertainment industries or are responsible for negative characterizations of African Americans.  As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  My commitment is to ensuring justice is promoted for all of G-d’s people.

I am reminded of a part of a Seder ceremony in which the children of Israel are fleeing Pharaoh’s army and celebrate the drowning of their pursuers in the Red Sea.  G-d’s response was disappointment because all are His children. I wholeheartedly believe that we are all G-d’s children and in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “we must learn to live together as brothers, or we perish together as fools”.

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