MLK: Civil Rights Leader & Friend of Israel

When People Criticize Zionists They Mean Jews, You Are Talking Anti-Semitism.”

Truer words were never spoken, and they were said by the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. However they weren’t said in a letter as long believed.

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Martin Luther King whose life and dream we celebrate this month was a great leader for civil rights. Unlike today’s “Civil Rights” leaders who seek divisiveness and handouts, Dr. King dream was a post racial society where people where judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

Also unlike most “Civil Rights” leaders today Dr. King was a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. In recognition of Martin Luther King Day many Jews will post a letter supposedly penned by Martin Luther King called “Letter to a Zionist Friend” — it is a hoax.

The most famous  line from the letter “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism,” was uttered by Dr. King, but not in any letter. But the letter does contain his sentiments.


Jews like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (left of MLK with beard) marched with Martin Luther King Jr. on the road to civil rights. King marched with Jews on the road to a secure Israel.
Jews like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (left of MLK with beard) marched with Martin Luther King Jr. on the road to civil rights. King marched with Jews on the road to a secure Israel.

Over a decade ago CAMERA tried to verify the letter but couldn’t find a source to document it. After different leads and ongoing research it turns out that Dr. King’s remarks were given at a dinner that took place in the Cambridge, Massachusetts home of Martin Peretz, then a Harvard professor. As reported by Martin Kramer, King’s words were first reported by Seymour Martin Lipset, the George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, in an article published in Encounter magazine (Dec. 1969), the year following King’s assassination.

Lipset wrote: “Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge. This was an experience which was at once fascinating and moving: one witnessed Dr. King in action in a way one never got to see in public. He wanted to find what the Negro students at Harvard and other parts of the Boston area were thinking about various issues, and he very subtly cross-examined them for well over an hour and a half. He asked questions, and said very little himself. One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, ‘Don’t talk like that!  When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!’”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man who believed that everyone should be able to live in peace and freedom, no matter who or how they worshiped, or the pigment of their skin. He was a fighter for civil rights, and he was a fighter for the Jews.

Dr. King fought for the release of Jews in the Soviet Union.  He was an early supporter of Israel, who knew how to cut through the phony anti-Zionist memes of many anti-Semites. Today, many civil rights leaders and many political leaders would serve themselves well to better understand this man’s words of peace.

Jeff Dunetz is the publisher of The Lid (, blogs for, reports for, and is a political columnist for The Jewish Star.

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