New Jewish Agenda Expels NAP

We are writing to you as colleagues in the progressive community to bring a difficult and unfortunate matter to your attention and to ask for your support. Over the last two years, New Jewish Agenda has been experiencing an influx of members of the New Alliance Party (NAP). Several chapters have had serious problems with either large-scale infiltration by NAP or else deceptive organizing by NAP members. The pattern of their appearance, and the fact that many of these persons are in positions of leadership in NAP, makes it clear to us that this is a concerted move by NAP to infiltrate NJA and influence our policies and positions. As a result, we have expelled 20 out of 21 of our members of the Manhattan chapter who are also members of NAP.

The expulsions were sought for actions or statements that cause serious damage to Agenda. Damage to our Manhattan chapter was reflected by: 1) loss of active members of the chapter, due to discussions disrupted or sidetracked to discussion of the New Alliance Party; 2) diversion of energy from regular chapter activities. Over 50 percent of meeting time has been devoted to dealing with the influx of members of the New Alliance Party; 3) impaired ability to recruit new members interested in promoting the platform and activities of New Jewish Agenda; 4) inability to carry on frank, open discussion free of crying and accusations; and 5) inability to assess chapter positions by taking votes because of the need to counter the block votes of New Alliance Party members who have joined New Jewish Agenda.

It is extremely unpleasant for us to have to contact you in order to criticize another organization. We feel that the New Alliance Party is so dangerous to us and to the progressive community in general that it would be irresponsible of us to remain silent. The party has long been viewed as a disruptive presence on the left, and concerns about NAP have been growing even stronger in recent months.

There are reliable reports from former NAP members and from journalists concerning NAP’s adversarial relationship to the left, its centrally disciplined internal structure and its disruptive tactics. Progressive groups around the country, from St. Louis to Boston to Mississippi and California, have reported having confrontations with NAP. Here are just a few examples: the Peace and Freedom Party’s presidential nominating convention was disrupted by NAP; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has publicly stated its concern about NAP; and the Rainbow Coalition has been the victim of NAP’s misleading organizing under the names “Rainbow Alliance” and “Rainbow Lobby.”

Of particular concern to NJA is NAP’s rhetoric, which is both anti-Semitic and aimed at straining black-Jewish relations. NAP’s leader Fred Newman has said, “As a people, Jewish people responded to the attempted genocide against them during World War II by selling our souls to the devil. The name of the devil is international capitalism.” NAP’s 1988 presidential candidate, Lenora Fulani, a black woman, referred to herself and Minister Louis Farrakhan as “the whipping boys of West Side liberal Jewish reformers.”

Why is a party which engages in this kind of rhetoric interested in an organization such as NJA, which is not only Jewish but dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and improving black-Jewish relations?

NAP has taken to reporting on NJA in its newspaper The National Alliance in a way which implies that there is or that there ought to be a relationship between NAP and NJA. The paper also reported on an internal regional meeting of NJA, which was in itself disturbing, but in addition it implied that NAP members were official delegates to the meeting which was not the case.

Furthermore, NAP has a way of taking defeats and declaring them victories. Their libel suit against the Jackson Advocate was dismissed as frivolous; in The National Alliance, NAP announced that it had won the case. NAP is clearly untrustworthy on even the simplest level.

In view of all this, we consider NAP’s infiltration to be very harmful to NJA and a threat to our organization’s integrity. We thus felt compelled to expel the members whose presence was deemed most damaging to NJA.

In response to these expulsions, we expect NAP to respond as they have responded to critics in the past — to conduct a smear campaign against NJA. They have already accused us of racism, anti-Semitism and McCarthyism. We ask for your help in protecting our organization and in telling NAP that their history and tactics make them unwelcome on the left.

Concern about NAP has been a great drain on our organization’s time and energy. We would like to put this behind us and focus again on the important work we have to do as Jewish progressives. Your support will be of tremendous value to us in bringing this unfortunate episode to a close and will hopefully reaffirm our friendship and alliance in service of the Jewish tradition tikkun olam, the just repair of the world.

Kate Harris
Rabbi Marc Gruber
National Co-Chairs
New Jewish Agenda

How to cite this article:

"Letters (September/October 1989)," Middle East Report 160 (September/October 1989).

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