Late in King's abbreviated life, increasing numbers of African American leaders began displaying anti-Semitic leanings. King repeatedly denounced black anti-Semitism and spoke in support of American Jews and the State of Israel. The following are samples of such statements. The first statement was given in response to black radicals' adoption of anti-Zionistic ideas:

You declare, my friend, that you do not hate Jews, you are merely "anti-Zionist." And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountaintops, let it echo through the valley's of God's green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews -- this is God's own truth.

Anti-Semitism.has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so.

The anti-Semite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular; in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the anti-Semite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just "anti-Zionist!"

My friend, I do not accuse you of deliberate anti-Semitism. But I know you have been misled - as others have been -- into thinking you can be "anti-Zionist" and yet remain true to these heartfelt principles that you and I share.

Let my words echo into the depths of your soul: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews -- make no mistake about it.

In an interview, King said the following about black anti-Semitism:

How could there be anti-Semitism among Negroes when our Jewish friends have demonstrated their commitment to the principle of tolerance and brotherhood not only in the form of sizable contributions but in many other tangible ways, and often at great personal sacrifice?

Can we ever express our appreciation to the rabbis who chose to give moral witness with us in St. Augustine..?

Need I remind anyone of the awful beating suffered by Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld of Cleveland when he joined the civil rights workers . in Hattiesburg, Mississippi? And who can forget the sacrifice of two Jewish lives, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in the swamps of Mississippi?

It would be impossible to record the contribution that the Jewish people have made toward the Negro's struggle for freedom -- it has been so great.

Reprinted with permission from Chapter 17: "Friendship Lost," from "Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. & the Jewish Community." Copyright 1999, Jewish Lights Publishing.

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