The Black/Jewish Forum of Baltimore, also known as the BLEWS, received special praise in a major study released late last year by the Marjorie Kovler Institute for Black-Jewish Relations. The study said the BLEWS exemplified how black and Jewish Americans can overcome old antagonisms to promote understanding between the two groups.
Several months ago, however, the 14-year-old organization hardly seemed the epitome of racial harmony. In February, the BLEWS board dismissed the black woman who had served as its executive director for only 3 1/2 months. The woman's fiance then wrote a scathing article about the firing for a local black newspaper. In the piece, black clergy were said to be having second thoughts about their ties to the BLEWS.
Also around that time, a BLEWS symposium on the Middle East was to include a Palestinian speaker, but the man reportedly was taken off the program by BLEWS officials. This action buttressed the suspicion among some black members that the forum's leadership maintains a pro-Jewish, pro-Israel bias. They have claimed that black concerns are relegated to the back of the agenda.