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Martin L. King’s (non-)visit to Israel

January 17, 2013

Here, from the Israel State Archives, is the account of the efforts of the Israeli government to get Martin King to make an official visit to Israel.  Because of various events, King never made it.  The editor of the Israel State Archive entry speculates at the end:

Israel wanted very much to bring Martin Luther King for a visit. His status as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate would give the event great prestige, and it was hoped that it would have a positive impact on the status of Israel in the Afro-American community in the United States and in Africa, where King was a revered figure.  King was sympathetic to Israel and declared support for its right to exist in peace. But given all the delays and evasions, it seems he did not want to identify himself with Israel to this extent during the struggle for equal rights for blacks in the United States. This attitude may also have arisen from the decline in his status in the Afro-American community, due to the rise of more radical groups which were identified with anti-Israel positions, such as Malcolm X and the “Nation of Islam,” and the “Black Panther” movement.

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