According to a recent book published by Historian Michael Fischbach, Black Power and Palestine, the SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, one of the main advocacy bodies for black emancipation during the civil rights era in the USA, in its June-July newsletter in 1967 raised questions about Israel and Zionism and which led to a backlash, resulting in a significant drop in donor support.

In fact the article itself took the form of a two-page spread titled Third World Round Up: The Palestine Problem: Test Your Knowledge and was compiled by editor Ethel Minor from a Palestine Research Center pamphlet titled, Do You Know? Twenty Basic Facts about the Palestine Problem and included cartoons by Kofi Bailey. In their preamble, they write:

In the past few weeks, the Arab-Israeli conflict exploded once again into an all out war as it did in 1956 and as it had done in 1948, when the State of Israel was created. What are the reasons for this prolonged conflict and permanent state of war which has existed between the Arab nations and Israel? Why has the United Nations, which helped create the problem, been unable to solve it? Why have hostilities continued? What is the root of the problem?

Since we know that the white American press seldom, if ever, gives the true story [sic] about world events in which America is involved, then we are taking this opportunity to present the following documented facts on this problem. These facts not only affect the lives of our brothers in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, but also pertain to our struggle here. We hope they will shed some light on the problem. Future issues of SNCC Newsletter will contain more background information and articles on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In fact due to the ferocious backlash, there was one just one other issue that covered the sitation where they carefully contextualised the conflict.

Q. Is the earliest documented advocacy by a black civil rights group on behalf of Palestine? If not, what is the earliest?

Q. Was this the only intervention by the SNCC on Palestine or were there subsequent ones?

Given that my use of the term 'advocacy' has been questioned. I'm pointing out here that I'm using the term advocacy in its usual sense and I think that this holds since it appears that the SNCC itself was divided on how to tackle the situation - I imagine that the leadership would have on the whole expected the backlash - yet a determined faction was able to publish the article in the newsletter and also to promise a more detailed analysis. This counts as advocacy in my book.

2 Answers 2



This answer was posted in response to the original version of the question. As previously discussed on our meta site, I probably won't be updating the answer in response to subsequent edits to the question.


Is the earliest documented advocacy by a black civil rights group on behalf of Palestine?

No it isn't.

From the SNCC website:

Historian Clayborne Carson writes about the release of the statement:

“Although the press portrayed this article as an official SNCC policy statement, it was actually written to provoke discussion of the Middle East conflict by SNCC’s staff and was distributed outside of the organization without the approval of many of SNCC’s leaders.”

So this was not, in fact, an example of "advocacy by a black civil rights group on behalf of Palestine".

(If you are interested, the June-July 1967 SNCC Newsletter is available to be read online).

  • 1
    I'd also be quite surprised if the Nation of Islam didn't make some kind of statement prior to '67. Of course most argue they go right on past "black advocacy" into supremicisim and anti-Semitism. (And no, I don't care to do the research to test this conjecture, because mucking through the historical sewage of a SPLC-designated hate group is not my idea of a fun time).
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 17, 2019 at 0:15
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    @T.E.D. Yeah. I stopped researching after I saw some of the results that were being thrown up. I was just testing the "Apparently ..." assertion in the question in order to add a link before others started downvoting for unsourced assertions. Jan 17, 2019 at 0:20
  • I wasn't expecting you to update your answer. It seems that you're tripping over my use of the term advocacy rather than tackling the question at hand. Jan 17, 2019 at 17:35
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    @MoziburUllah No, I am simply following the procedure that I outlined in my answer to the meta question linked above. If you want to use terms in a non-standard way, then by all means do so - but define those terms when you use them, not after someone has taken the time to research and answer your question. Jan 17, 2019 at 17:40
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    @MoziburUllah I am not asking you to appreciate anything. I have simply pointed out that the SNCC's own website states that this wasn't advocacy by the group. I'm sorry if that isn't the answer you wanted, but since it is posted by the SNCC themselves, that is about as authoritative as you are going to get. Jan 17, 2019 at 18:21

Its quite likely that this was one of the earliest official advocacy by a group as opposed to individuals per se. In the opening chapter of Fischers book, Black Power and Palestine, he writes:

several months after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, left-wing writer Paul Jacobs invited his friend Israeli diplomat Ephraim Evron to meet with some Black Power militants in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Evron was a minister at the Israeli embassy in Washington and earlier had asked Jacobs why black nationalists had supported the Arabs instead of Israel during the war. Jacobs used his connections to find a group of about twenty blacks willing to talk to Evron. He and Jacobs then met with the men at a private vocational training school called Operation Bootstrap on Central Avenue in Watts in early 1968.

This suggests that these kinds of conversations were taking place in black militant groups and more widely but had not coalsced into a determine position of policy for some group.

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