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Full Text of A. J. C. Report

Report on unification and cooperation presented to the administrative committee of the American Jewish Congress at a meeting at the Hotel Commodore Tuesday evening by a sub-committee of the Committee of Seven

To the administrative committee of the American Jewish Congress:

At a meeting of the administrative committee, held on October 9, a series of resolutions was introduced in which it was proposed that certain direct steps be taken to secure the participation in the responsibilities assumed by the American Jewish Congress, of a larger representation of national Jewish organizations, especially of those organizations or groups that have hitherto withheld their cooperation. These resolutions were referred to the Committee of Seven for review and recommendation, and it was instructed to report on the matter not later than four weeks from date.

The meeting of the Committee of Seven was held on October 13, and was attended by three members added to the Committee by the president to wit: Samuel Bonchek, Charles A. Cohen and Louis Lipsky. It was decided that the report of the Committee of Seven should be drafted by a sub-committee consisting of Charles A. Cowen, Dr. Horace M. Kallen, Louis Lipsky, Dr. Samuel Margoshes and Louis Segal, and be submitted by the sub-committee, on behalf of the Committee of Seven, to a special meeting of the administrative committee.

We beg herewith to present the following report with the hope that its recommendations will be approved:

FIND ISSUE CLOUDED BY DISTORTION

The problems and issues upon which your Committee deliberated have suffered much distortion in the course of public discussion; but the parties directly concerned have not met for an exchange of views, nor have they properly joined issue on any fundamental principle. This has beclouded the realities of the situation. In order to clarify them, it is necessary to hold in clear view the program and policy of the American Jewish Congress. These are:

First, to serve in the United States as the democratically constituted, all-inclusive representative body for the protection of Jewish rights and the promotion of common Jewish interests through an assembly of delegates in which all Jewish national organizations shall cooperate and of which all American Jews as individuals shall constitute the electorate.

Second, to cooperate in the creation of a permanent commission which shall speak and act for the whole Jewish people in the protection of Jewish rights the world over, and in the promotion of common Jewish interests. The permanent commission is to be set up by a world assembly composed of delegates from each Jewry of the world elected in accordance with its best democratic traditions and precedents. The delegates are to serve for a stated period of three or four years. The permanent commission which they create will serve as an executive body and will be responsible for the conduct of affairs between the sessions of the world assembly.

CITES COOPERATION OF MUCH OF PUBLIC

The American Jewish Congress stands on its record. It has sought to serve the Jews of America and of the world in accord with its declared purposes, to the best of its abilities and resources. From the masses of American Jewry, it has received a high degree of support and cooperation. Among certain classes it has been met with a certain amount of opposition and adverse criticism. Its aim has been, and remains, to establish a democratic method of procedure and responsibility in the management of Jewish affairs. On this point especially it has been opposed by an influential group of American Jews,” but regardless of all opposition, the seventeen-year record of the American Jewish Congress is one of effective aid to European Jewries in political and economic distress, and of service as the authentic voice and preferred agency of the masses of the American Jews.

When Hitler took power in Germany, and the anti-Semitism chronic in many parts of the world was made acute by Nazi propaganda, the American Jewish Congress rallied the forces of American Jewry and awakened public opinion in America to a defense of the democratic way of life upon which the position of Jews as men and as citizens is organically dependent. The Congress was effective in bringing to public knowledge both the inhuman practices and principles of the present German government and the tragic consequences of its assault upon civilization.

Hitler and Hitlerism have made clearer and more imperative than ever the necessity that the Jews of the world shall establish on a democratic basis a united front against anti-Semitism. Its assault upon the hard-won human liberties and rights, which Jews have won through generations of sacrifice, impose on each and every Jew, regardless of his views concerning method and procedure, the obligation to cooperate in an organized and disciplined way in the defense of the Jew’s right to work and to live as a man and a citizen.

DISCUSSES CONVOKING A WORLD CONGRESS

Experience has proved that only a democratic organization {SPAN}###{/SPAN} be a really responsible one, and only where elected officers must give an account of their stewardship to their electors, can the elector in fact have a voice in deciding the policies which affect his own life and living. For these reasons the American Jewish Congress has taken steps to organize American Jewry upon a democratic basis.

As for the calling of a Warld Congress and the setting up of a permanent commission for the protection of Jewish rights, it should be stated that the demand for these instruments comes mostly and most insistently from the Jewries of Europe and their more enlightened and progressive leaders. The ideal of a permanent commission or World Jewish Congress has repeatedly been sanctioned and supported by the World Zionist Organization. It has been the subject of discussions during two decades and has become an urgent practical demand since the rise of Hitlerism with its consequences.

We are now in the process of organizing for the election and of studying problems. Nevertheless, in order to secure the largest and most effective cooperation, the American Jewish Congress should be prepared to submit any of its intentions to the further scrutiny of interested groups.

If it transpires that, under candid and objective study, the course the Congress proposes should show itself to be impractical or harmful, it would be in keeping with the ideal and tradition of the Congress to change this course for another that would bring about the unity which the Congress, through its president, publicly invited on October 7, 1934, and thereby to add to the effectiveness with which the Congress serves the Jewish people. Its paramount objective remains union and cooperation on democratic lines of all sections of the Jewish population so that American Jewish communities may concentrate their maximum powers upon the solution of the tragic problems of our people. The door to cooperation should always be kept open. If the Congress is convinced of the correctness of its course and of the confidence of the masses of American Jewry, it should be willing to present its proposals to the free discussion of any democratically-constituted assembly of American Jews whose decisions should be binding upon all participants. Hence the Congress should aim to win in advance the support and cooperation of as large and as substantial a body of Jewish public opinion as can possibly be drawn together in the service of the causes it champions. It should take every opportunity to convince and win over those who may have views not fully in accord with its own.

After a reasonable time has passed and every opportunity for free and open discussion has been taken, after all counterproposals have been carefully studied, after every door has been opened wide for any who desire to enter, the time for discussion comes to an end. The time for action is at hand.

COMMITTEE ADVANCES RESOLUTIONS FOR ADOPTION

With these considerations in mind, your committee ventures to submit the following resolutions for adoption: 1. In order to broaden the base of cooperation;

(a) In the preparation for the forthcoming session of the American Jewish Congress, and

(b) In devising the rules for the election of delegates, to be held in April, 1935,

The Board of Election shall be so reorganized that there shall be place on it for representatives of all such national organizations as shall be willing to cooperate. It is understood that such reorganized Board of Election will have full and exclusive jurisdiction over nominations and elections, subject to the general instruction that all nominations and elections shall be democratic in method and form.

2. In order that the session of the American Jewish Congress following the election of delegates in April, 1935, shall not prejudice any of the principal questions on which there is a serious difference of opinion, and in order that such questions may be final and definite decision to that session of the Congress, it is resolved,

(a) That the elections to be held April, 1935, shall be exclusively for delegates to the American Jewish Congress, that the electorate shall be asked to authorize that session of the American Jewish Congress to elect the American delegates who are to cooperate in the formation of a permanent commission of the organized Jewries of the world which is to be created by a World Jewish Congress, in and when it shall be called during 1935.

(b) That the following questions shall be submitted to the electorate in the form of a referendum:

I. Shall there be one representative national body to speak and act on behalf of American Jewry in the protection of Jewish rights and the safeguarding of general Jewish interests?

II. Shall a World Jewish Congress or Assembly, composed of delegates elected by the Jews of each land in accordance with its best democratic traditions and precedents, set up a representative international commission charged to speak and act in defense of Jewish rights, to safeguard general Jewish interests, and to conduct the affairs of the Congress or Assembly in the intervals between the session?

III. It is further resolved to direct the Committee of Seven to appoint a committee on unification and cooperation. The duty of this committee shall be to negotiate with American Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee, the B’nai B’rith and the labor movement, upon the following basis;

If these organizations shall agree to cooperate in establishing and maintaining an executive body which shall be known the Council of Jewish Delegations to represent before the League of Nations the rights and interests of Jews, and enroll members of this Council as part of the American representation. Thereon, then, and in that edict, the administrative committee shall agree to submit the matter of summoning the World Jewish Congress to the Council of Jewish Delegations so constituted, all questions related thereto to be decided by majority vote.

IV. It is understood that this proposal shall be submitted to the forthcoming session of the American Jewish Congress for ratification, and it is further understood that the officers and members of the administrative committee are to be free to in accordance with their personal views on this proposal in the election campaigns and at the session of the American Jewish Congress.

V. The committee on unification and cooperation is authorized to carry on its negotiations through a conference or conferences with any or all of the organizations referred to, and to carry on such propaganda as it may consider necessary for the promotion of peace and cooperation in American Jewry. It is directed to report its findings to the administrative committee not later than February 1, 1935.

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