Martin Luther King Junior is perhaps one of the most iconic characters of the 20th century. Up until today, he's still considered as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of civil rights and the pursuit of racial equality.
However, an unpopular fact about MLK, who was a preacher for peace and morality, is that he was an outspoken advocate and supporter of Israel.
MLK was a Baptist minister, best remembered for using non-violent strategies and civil insubordination in protest of racial inequality. In 1955, he led the Montgomery bus boycott after the arrest of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white person.
He also played a huge role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. His relentless campaigning lasted for around a year, forcing the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Alabama's and Montgomery's segregated buses were unconstitutional.
The truth behind a much shared letter supposedly written by King regarding his support to Israel
There was one letter titled "Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend," supposedly sent by King defending Zionism, which was later proven to be a hoax.
Nevertheless, containing words and opinions the reverend had, in fact, shared previously. In the letter, King refuses to separate between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The letter reads:
"My friend, I do not accuse you of deliberate antisemitism... But I know you have been misled — as others have been — into thinking you can be ‘anti-Zionist’ and yet remain true to these heartfelt principles that you and I share. Let my words echo in the depths of your soul: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews — make no mistake about it."
King's real views on the matter in 1967
King was an outspoken supporter of the Jewish occupying state and its right to exist.
In the above video, King praises Israel and insists that it "must exist and has the right to exist."
He even goes as far as calling it "one of the great outposts for democracy in the world."
The pilgrimage that never happened
In 1967, King released a statement announcing his plans to visit the Holy Land, with the intention of leading a pilgrimage and preaching on the Mount of Olives.
But the Six-Day War of 1967 broke out in June, leaving the activist in an odd position which resulted in the cancellation of the trip.
Before canceling the trip to Palestine, King told his confidants on the phone:
"I'd run into the situation where I'm damned if I say this and I'm damned if I say that no matter what I'd say, and I've already faced enough criticism including pro-Arab. I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt [...]
Most of it [the pilgrimage] would be Jerusalem and they have annexed Jerusalem, and any way you say it they don't plan to give it up. I frankly have to admit that my instincts, and when I follow my instincts so to speak I'm usually right... I just think that this would be a great mistake. I don't think I could come out unscathed."
He still considered Israel to be a "great country"
"Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere..."
In 2013, Israel's State Archives released letters exchanged between King and members of the Jewish and Israeli leadership regarding a possible visit to the Holy Land.
He still referred to Israel as a "great country".
Although his stance on the topic never endorsed the violent and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians, one thing is for sure, King supported the Jewish state and its "right" to exist.
It is very difficult to imagine that the same man who said "injustice is a threat to justice everywhere" and "our lives begin to end the day we become silent on the things that matter," would ever endorse any justification for the brutal renunciation of a whole nation’s freedom and basic human rights.