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Jews, Arabs Praise Court Ruling With PM-Scotus Rdp, Bjt

May 19, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two groups who seldom agree on anything were savoring the fruits of a rare legal collaboration as the Supreme Court extended broad civil rights protections to persons of Arab and Jewish descent.

The ruling, handed down in two cases, conferred the broad protections of the nation’s civil rights laws drafted with blacks primarily in mind to other groups victimized by discrimination.

″We have little trouble in concluding that Congress intended to protect from discrimination identifiable classes of persons who are subjected to intentional discrimination solely because of their ancestry or ethnic characteristics,″ said Justic Byron R. White, writing for the court.

The unanimous decision extending civil rights so broadly surprised some lawyers, since the court has often been divided on such issues lately.

But the ruling was also viewed as the product of a rare coalition of Jewish, black and Arab civil rights groups who have often been at loggerheads on a variety of matters.

″In this issue of civil rights, we have always been willing to cooperate with anyone,″ said Albert Mokhiber, director of legal services for the Arab Anti-Defamation Committee.

″We make common cause with them on this issue, and we have no reticence on that point,″ said Sam Rabinove, legal director of the American Jewish Committee.

In one case, an Arab, Majid Ghaidan Al-Khazraji had been an associate professor at St. Francis College of Loretto, Pa., for more than five years when he was denied tenure in 1978.

In the second case, the Supreme Court reinstated a suit by a Jewish congregation in Silver Spring, Md., against vandals who defaced a synagogue with anti-Semitic and Nazi-type slogans and symbols.

The groups who filed supporting briefs in both cases included the Arab Anti-Defamation Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Jewish War Veterans.

″We’re extremely pleased,″ said Mokhiber. ″With the rise in hatred and violence that has victimized both Arabs and Jews, we desperately need this kind of protection.″

Jeffrey P. Sinensky, legal director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith stressed that the ruling was not an affirmative action decision that would force employers to hire certain numbers of Jews, Arabs or other ethnic groups.

″Employers already were forbidden from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or national origin,″ said Rachael Pines, the staff attorney who handled the brief filed by the ACLU.

Several attorneys predicted, however, that the decision would prompt a slew of other civil rights suits by members of ethnic groups not accustomed to considering themselves eligible for civil rights relief.

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