SYRACUSE (May. 10)
The Gottheil medal for distinguished service to Jewry was awarded last night by Zeta Beta Tau to James G. McDonald, former High Commissioner for Refugees from Germany, at a dinner in honor of the Jewish fraternity’s founders.
The Gottheil Medal is awarded annually to the American who in the year preceding the award has done the most for Jewry. Previous recipients include Rev. Everett R. Clinchy, Father J. Elliot Rose, the late Julius Rosenwald, Felix Warburg, Governor Herbert Lehman and Dr. Stephen S. Wise.
Acceptance for Mr. McDonald, who was unable to attend, was made by Dean K. C. Leebick of Syracuse University. Presentation of the medal was made by Harold Riegelman, New York attorney.
An attack on the authoritarian state, coupled with a caution that Democracy, if it is to continue, must launch an offensive against tyranny, featured Mr. McDonald’s address of acceptance.
“The authoritarian state, with its doctrine of totalitarianism based on the conception of blood and soil, ” he declared, “attacks not merely a single group or class; it is the uncompromising enemy of every group or individual who either cannot or will not fit into the pattern arbitrarily prescribed by the rulers. The most numerous victims are the Jews, but there are also tens of thousands of Protestants and Catholics who, having dared to follow their conscience rather than the dictation of party leaders, now suffer a similar fate.
“These martyrs for freedom of the spirit – silenced, imprisoned, exiled – are fighting more than their own battles. They are fighting yours and mine. The defeat of the principles of religious and political liberty in one country weakens these principles everywhere. The doctrine of the absolute supremacy of the state is quickly seized upon by interested groups elsewhere as a basis for attempts to regiment public opinion in their own countries. We are not immune to this danger here.
“If we are to be worthy of our American democratic heritage, it will not be enough for us to attack tyranny in other lands. Nor will it be sufficient for us to criticise those Americans who are preaching the doctrine of subordination of the individual to the state. Democracy dare not remain on the defensive. It must launch its own offensive. It must reinterpret its ideals and formulate them anew in terms that have vital meaning for the people. Then will democracy be enabled to make a stirring appeal to the spirit of adventure and idealism of American youth. Only through the rediscovery of the meaning of freedom of the individual can that freedom be made secure.”