THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 188
Chapter 6: Jewish Power: Is It Good for Jews?
 
 
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188 The Story of the Jewish Defense League

bpower]. I’ll speak on Soviet Jewry and get these people, bwhom Nixon depends on for his support, to help us with bSoviet Jewry.”

bAnd here was the crux of the matter, yet another example bof JDL foresight, imagination, and daring as opposed to the bfearful dullness, lethargy, and stupidity of major Jewish bgroups and their leaders. I knew full well that Colombo was bsaid to be a Mafia chieftain and that his group had clearly bbeen formed, at first, to give him a power base in his fight bagainst government efforts to jail him. I also knew that, for a bnumber of excellent reasons, his group could be of service to bthe Jewish people. To begin with, the open support for bSoviet Jews by a non-Jewish group that really did represent bthe thinking of millions of Italian-Americans was of extra- bordinary importance. Let it be borne in mind that whatever bthe original motivation for forming the group, Colombo bhad touched a genuine nerve among the lower- and bmiddle-class Italian-Americans when he spoke of Italian bpride and power at a time when they lived in an urban bAmerica that threatened their interests on every side. If bJews marched for Soviet Jewry, it was understandable and bnot of overwhelming political importance to Richard Nixon. bBut if a non-Jewish ethnic group that was part of more than b20 million others, and whose members were the conserva- btive, law-and-order Middle Americans upon whom Nixon bdepended, joined in the fight for Soviet Jewish freedom, bthen this was a major gain for our brothers and sisters bbehind the Iron Curtain.

bSecondly, we knew of the daily tensions in lower-middle- bclass neighborhoods between Italians and Jews, tensions bthat took the form of beatings of youngsters and vandalizing bof synagogues, tensions that the respectable Jews of The New bYork Times stripe were light-years away from. Our relations bwith Colombo served, a number of times, to ease those btensions, as he spread the word that he wanted good rela- btions with the Jews.

bFinally, I—far more clearly than other Jewish bleaders—understood the breakdown of the concept of the b“melting pot” and the growth of ethnic separation in the b 

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 188
Chapter 6: Jewish Power: Is It Good for Jews?