ZOA’s Klein Letter in NY Jewish Week: Dr. Martin Luther King Supported Israel
March 11, 2019

Your editorial was entirely correct to point out that New York Times columnist Michelle Alexander wrongly and misleadingly invoked Martin Luther King in support of her vicious criticism of Israel, when in fact Rev. Dr. King was a staunch, principled supporter of Israel and Zionism (“Speaking Unfairly For Dr. King,” Jan. 25). Not only did Rev. Dr. King speak those words in favor of Israeli democracy and security in 1968, which your Editorial quoted, but he spoke on several other occasions about Israel’s incontestable right to exist and flourish and noted that the “poverty and backwardness” of the Arab world rendered Israel’s quest for both of these incomparably difficult. There are anti-Israel advocates who contend that Martin Luther King would have a very different view of Israel today. While it is impossible to know for certain what he would believe had he lived, it bears noting that these essential conditions in the Middle East remain unaltered today. Additionally, anti-Israel advocates have worked overtime to prove that Rev. Dr. King never addressed an audience in October 1967 in Cambridge, Mass., and thus never uttered the following words that have been attributed to him on that night in response to an anti-Israel questioner, “Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” However, Middle East scholar Martin Kramer has demonstrated in abundant detail that Rev. Dr. King did indeed speak on the night in question in October 1967 in Cambridge, and people present testified to his having uttered these words.

Morton A. Klein, National President Zionist Organization of America

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