Beliefnet

DALLAS, August 9 (AP)--The NAACP is considering suspending its Dallas branch president for the words he used in criticizing Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the first Jew named to a major national party ticket.

Lee Alcorn, Dallas NAACP president, said Vice President Al Gore's selection of Lieberman as a running mate was suspicious. The comment sparked outrage from the Jewish and black communities.

Speaking on a KHVN talk radio show Monday, Lee Alcorn, president of the Dallas NAACP, said: "If we get a Jew person, then what I'm wondering is, I mean, what is this movement for, you know? Does it have anything to do with the failed peace talks?"

Alcorn continued, "So I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnerships between the Jews at that kind of level, because we know that their interest primarily has to do with money and these kind of things." Kweisi Mfume, national president of the NAACP, condemned the remarks as "repulsive, anti-Semitic, anti-NAACP, and anti-American."

"Mr. Alcorn does not speak for the NAACP, its board, its staff, or its membership," Mfume told The Dallas Morning News in Wednesday's editions. He said he would probably suspend Alcorn's membership and his position with the Dallas branch.

"We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Jewish community," Mfume said, "and I personally will not tolerate statements that run counter to the history and beliefs of the NAACP in that regard."

Alcorn said Tuesday that his comments were "taken pretty much out of context." In an interview with The Associated Press, he said Tuesday his statements were his and not the NAACP's and weren't intended to be "anti-Jewish, but anti-Lieberman."

"I am not excited about Lieberman for those reasons. It has nothing to do with him being Jewish. The [school] vouchers is the No. 1 thing, and he has a real conservative record as we look at his political history," Alcorn said. "I don't see where he has been a champion for African-American concerns."

He said his statements reflected "something that is generally known about Jews."

Lieberman, a second-term senator from Connecticut, has advocated some test use of vouchers to allow poor children to attend private school.

Mark Briskman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Dallas, said his office received numerous calls after the broadcast from other blacks concerned and outraged with Alcorn's statements, including other members of the Dallas NAACP chapter.

"It's intolerable for someone to utter these kinds of words that are bigoted, outrageous, and anti-Semitic," Briskman said.

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