When Martin Luther King got sucked into an Israeli propaganda op
I’ve been writing about the covert Israeli campaign that targeted top American and European influencers and pushed the notion that the Soviet Union was on the verge of carrying out a genocide against its Jews. Among those sucked into the campaign was Martin Luther King, Jr.
An early example is when Moshe Decter, a budding neocon operator and Israel’s agent in New York, used his contacts in the civil rights movement to get MLK on board in 1963 as one of the big name cosponsors of a covert PR front called the Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews. It was launched during an event in New York and spent the rest of the 1960s engaging in all sorts of letter-writing and publicity campaigns, spreading the false notion that something horrible was about to happen to Jews in the Soviet Union. You can see MLK’s name prominently displayed on the group’s letterhead.
From a 1967 letter included in a propaganda pamphlet that warned of Jewish “extinction” in the Soviet Union.
But this was not the only time MLK unwittingly took part in the campaign.
There was also his involvement with the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, an umbrella organization that brought together American Jewish orgs to agitate the issue in a united front. It had been set up in 1963 with help from Nativ’s secret agents inside the Israeli consulate in New York. The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Committee were some of the big name organizations involved in running it, while a Supreme Court Justice and two sitting Senators — Jacob Javits and Abraham Ribicoff — kicked off its founding event.
In 1966, the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry held a high profile get-together in New York to build momentum on the Soviet Union’s Jewish Question. That’s where MLK came in. He was asked to give a talk. And he did, dialing in from his home to give a short speech that was broadcast to Jewish organizations across America by telephone, an early form of realtime audio streaming. It was a big deal at the time. Just about every major and minor Jewish organization took part in the event, which was held at the Cooper Union in New York after a big student march through Manhattan.
I had come across MLK’s involvement in the Save the Soviet Jews campaign and noticed that he had given a speech or two. But I never actually took the time to read what he had said. Well, I just did. Sean Guillory — of the great SRB Podcast — sent me a link to his original speech notes for the 1966 event.
Looking at his words now, I gotta admit that they bring out the cynic in me. I mean, here you have a towering figure of the Civil Rights Movement — a man who would be killed for his politics just two years later — using his moral authority to agitate for what is at root an ethno-nationalist campaign to build out racially pure Jewish homeland.
It was a short speech, just typed two pages. Looking at the original notes and revisions and comparing them to the text of the address MLK actually delivered, it looks like he punched up the victimization rhetoric in a massive way. As you can see above, he crossed out a long passage about the fact that no widespread discrimination against Jews exists in the Soviet and instead added references to Nazi Germany and words like “genocide” and “extinction.” He also drew a parallel between the black struggle for liberation and equality in America with what’s happening to the Jews in the Soviet Union, a ridiculous comparison…
…This is a preview of a full letter that is only available to subscribers. To support my work and read the rest, sign up and read it here.
Want to know more? If you haven’t already, check out my series about Soviet Jews migration to Israel.
Part Four coming soon…
And these notes: