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Synagogue Cancels Anti-Duke Rally

January 26, 1989

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A synagogue dropped plans to be host for a rally against former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke’s state House campaign, the congregation’s rabbi said Thursday.

″Very strong feelings against the meeting from the members of the congregation and the community in general has forced reconsideration,″ said Rabbi Gavriel Newman of Congregation Beth Israel. ″It is our judgment that any efforts to clarify to the community to how dangerous David Duke is to Louisiana would forge support for him from those who agree with his viewpoints.″

Mordechai Levy, head of the New York-based Jewish Defense Organization, earlier Thursday had announced plans for the Feb. 14 rally. Levy said the rally would be a ″peaceful and legal mass meeting to derail and hopefully ruin the Duke campaign.″

Newman said Levy’s earlier statements that his group would not rule out violence in its efforts against Duke were a factor in the decision to cancel the rally.

″We still feel that it is essential that people understand that David Duke, having a history of racism and bigotry, is an extremely dangerous man.″

Duke, 38, former imperial wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led a field of seven candidates in the Jan. 21 primary election for the House seat in the mostly white suburban New Orleans area. He faces John Treen, 62, in a Feb. 18 runoff.

Levy said after learning of Newman’s decision that he was trying to find another synagogue for the rally.

Levy said earlier this week that the JDO would take any means necessary, including violence, to disrupt Duke’s campaign.

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