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The Facts About Martin Luther King and Zionism


By Michael Collins Piper

Many sources frequently publicize with much hullaballoo a purported “Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend” by Dr. Martin Luther King regarding the matter of “anti-Zionism” and “anti-Semitism.” But the truth is the letter is a hoax exploited by leading pro-Zionist figures largely for the purpose of keeping blacks in America supportive of Jewish interests.

The alleged letter read in part:

“…You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely ‘anti-Zionist.’ . . . When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews. . . .” Now here are the cold, hard facts. On Jan. 22, 2002, the rabidly pro-Israel Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) published a special alert to its readers on its Internet site at, declaring “Letter by Martin Luther King a Hoax” and stating flatly the letter was “a hoax.”


Although this letter by King is purported to have appeared in an August 1967 edition of The Saturday Review, the truth is that no letters from King appear in any of the four editions of the Review published in August of 1967.And while others claimed the statement appeared in a book entitled This I Believe: Selections from theWritings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there is no evidence that such a book was ever published. It is not listed in a bibliography of books and materials by and about King that is available from the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta, Ga.  Despite this, some of the following powerful polemicists who have exploited this forgery to enforce pro-Israel political correctness within the black community:

• Israeli Prime MinisterAriel Sharon quoted the “letter” before the Israeli parliament on January 26, 2005;

• Michael Salberg of the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith (ADL) cited this non-existent letter in his July 31, 2001 testimony before the U.S. House of International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights;

• Mortimer Zuckerman, billionaire publisher of U.S.
News & World Report (then-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) quoted the letter in a column on Sept. 17, 2001;

• Ex-Soviet dissident-turned-hardline Israeli extremist Natan Sharansky cited the letter in a November 2003 article in Commentary, the neo-conservative journal of the American Jewish Committee;

• Rabbi Marc Shneier cited the letter in a book Shared Dreams, which happened to include a preface from King’s son;

• And last, but far from least,Abraham Foxman—the ADL’s much-quoted national director—has cited King’s supposed rhetoric in his 2003 book, Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, as well as in his own speeches and commentaries including one published in TheWashington Post on Aug. 7, 2001.  Needless to say, many other people have also cited King’s statement, relying on what they have seen from such sources above.

Although CAMERA rushed to assure its readers that the purported King letter was a hoax, CAMERA still asserted that other sources did say that they had heard King express such sentiments and that King did consider anti-Zionism to be anti-Semitism.

But there’s more to the story.

CAMERA cited pro-Israel publicist SeymourMartin Lipset who claimed that King had made such remarks at a private dinner in Cambridge, Mass. in 1968 which Lipset cited in a 1969 article in Encounter magazine.  And Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has claimed that King made the remarks in a 1968 speech at Harvard.  However, here’s the problem. This excerpt from the alleged speech at Cambridge or Harvard sounds remarkably like the previously cited rhetoric from the phony letter.

But more importantly, note this: there are no records in Stanford University’s archives of King’s work indicating that King gave any formal speeches in Cambridge or nearby Boston during that time frame.  Even further, The Harvard Crimson reported on April 8, 1968 (after King’s death) that King had not been to Cambridge sinceApril 23, 1967, well before the 1968 speech cited many years after the act by the congressman, who happens to be one of the few black members of the House who is a firm ally of the Jewish Lobby.  So there is serious doubt about even these supposedly pro-Zionist words from King, wherever or whenever they were made by him.

The website has published an authoritative report entitled “The Use and Abuse of Martin Luther King Jr. by Israel’s Apologists.” The authors, Fadi Kiblawi and Will Youmans, have summarized the ugly history of the exploitation of Dr. King’s legacy by pro-Israel propagandists.  To this day still, Dr. King’s famous (but non-existent) letter to an anti-Zionist friend still remains in widespread circulation on the Internet—even long after the pro-Israel CAMERA reported it was a hoax. 

A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House All are available from AFP.

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(Issue # 4, January 24, 2010)

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