Protest against controversial professor to be held at Holocaust Memorial

March 10, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

Seeking to avoid confrontation, a Jewish citizens group has moved a Saturday night protest of a controversial black professor's speech from Walbrook High School in West Baltimore to the Holocaust Memorial near the Inner Harbor.

The ad hoc group, People Against Hate, had planned to rally outside Walbrook High School, where Tony Martin, a Wellesley college professor and author of "The Jewish On slaught," is scheduled to speak.

But Jay Bernstein, a leader of the group, said the 8 p.m. protest had been moved to the Holocaust Memorial to avoid any clash with those attending the Martin talk, to increase turnout for the event and to stress the relation between the Holocaust and what they consider Dr. Martin's anti-Semitic message.

"Our intent is not to cause a confrontation, not to get headlines and not to disrupt anything," Mr. Bernstein said. "Our intent is to have our voice heard."

Kemetic Pathway, a private group, has rented the Walbrook auditorium for the Martin speech at 7 p.m. The city school board decided Tuesday night that it could not bar Dr. Martin's appearance without violating his First Amendment rights.

Dr. Martin's appearance would mark the third time in five weeks that a black speaker with an anti-Jewish message has come to Baltimore. The Nation of Islam's Khallid Abdul Muhammad spoke here twice in February.

Dr. Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said the Holocaust Memorial was the appropriate place for a protest "because if history teaches us anything, it's that the racism, anti-Semitism and hatred that someone like Tony Martin conveys can too easily lead to a holocaust."

A. Robert Kaufman, a civic activist who was the lone Jew to protest Mr. Muhammad's Feb. 5 appearance at Baltimore City Community College, said he would be at Walbrook. "I guess I'll be the only Jew there again," he said.

Mr. Kaufman says black anti-Semites who accuse Jews of manipulating black leaders are repeating the lies of 1960's-era white supremacists who blamed the civil rights movement on Jewish "agitators."

Dr. Martin, 52, a tenured professor of Africana studies whose specialty is black nationalist Marcus Garvey, became the center of controversy last year when he used a Nation of Islam book that claims Jews dominated the slave trade as a text in a Wellesley class.

Then he wrote a book about the controversy, "The Jewish Onslaught," which has become a best seller in Afrocentric bookstores.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, calls Dr. Martin "an anti-Semite, a racist and a conspiracist who blames all blacks' ills on the control of the Jewish community."

Dr. Martin's book describes what he calls "the ongoing Jewish onslaught against black progress." He contends that Jews control the mass media and calls his black critics "stooges."

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