Machinery for the organization of local committees to participate in the national democratic elections for the American Jewish Congress is being set into motion today by AJC officials. It was announced last week that the elections would take place next April 29.
These preparations for the establishment of a central Jewish body in the United States, representative of all groups of opinion in this country and to be elected by direct democratic vote, were in the form of promulgation of the official proclamation to Jewish organizations throughout the country. Addressed to the Jews of this country the notification of elections was signed by President Bernard S. Deutsch and Honorary President Stephen S. Wise of the AJC.
It was further announced by the committee in charge that voting is to be open to all persons above the age of eighteen. It is expected that voting will take place in every section where there is a Jewish community.
The national elections, it was stated earlier in the week, have been called as an emergency measure in the light of developments in the United States affecting Jews and problems confronting Jews the world over, with which American Jewry, as the largest Jewish community in the world, is expected to cope as well.
The time has now come, the proclamation declared, “when the Jews of America must acknowledge themselves and act as a people not only where European Jewry is concerned, but where they themselves are concerned.”
URGES MASSES TO ACTION
In the past “historic moments, when grave crises demanded action from a united Jewish people, the impulse for such action came from the masses rather than from the official leadership of American Jewry,” the statement declared at another point.
“The impulse to united action must now, as in the past, generate from the masses and their organization,” it continues.
The reference to past historic moments referred particularly to the occurrence of the first national Jewish vote on Jewish problems. That event took place in 1918 and it dealt with the emergency situation of European Jewry after the World War. At that time 335,000 votes were polled.
Recalling the effectiveness of the democratic method of the 1918 election, the proclamation states further: “During the World War, confronted with the responsibility of salvaging the Jews from the ruins of a ravaged Europe, American Jews conceived that the rights and the future of their fellow Jews abroad could be established and safeguarded most effectively through democratic means and instrumentalities. In accordance with this viewpoint the movement was initiated which resulted in the establishment, by direct, democratic vote, of the first American Jewish Congress, which included representatives of all classes and all groups of opinion.”
Then follows a resume of the “fruitful results” achieved by this first experiment in democracy on the part of United States’ Jews. It was pointed out that the first AJC sent a delegation to the Peace Conference which influenced the incorporation of the minorities rights protection clauses in the Peace Treaty. These treaties, the statement says, still remain an internationally recognized legal recourse against oppression.
In defense of the democratic method in its application to Jewish life, the proclamation declares that throughout their entire history Jews, who have been the chief beneficiaries of the privileges accorded by democracy, have been the first victims of any attempt to destroy democracy. It adds that Hitlerism has taught us that the rights of Jews as free and equal citizens can be preserved only in those countries where democratic principles are traditional and by democratic means.
ON THRESHOLD OF BATTLE
On the premise, therefore, that the rights of Jews can be safeguarded only in countries where democracy prevails and through democratic methods employed by themselves, and in the belief “that we are on the threshold of a battle for the preservation of our existence,” declares the proclamation, “the American Jewish Congress evokes its historic right as the first Jewish Parliament in America, to summon the Jews of this country to create and maintain unity through democracy.
“It appeals to all Jews, affiliated or unaffiliated,” is the concluding note, “to lend their support to this movement for the preservation of the collective and individual freedom and equality of all Jews.”