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Lewis’s Appeal to ‘christians’ in Speech Explained

An explanation of CIO President John L. Lewis’s cryptic appeal to “members of the Christian Church” in his pro-Willkie radio address last Friday night was forthcoming today from local headquarters of the Willkie campaign and from the New York office of the CIO.

F.F. Greenman, assistant to the Eastern campaign manager of the Willkie campaign, wrote to Dr. S. Margoshes, editor of The Day, who had published a column condemning Lewis for his speech:

“….Mr. Lewis was importuned by prominent Jewish leaders, some of them voting for Roosevelt and some for Willkie, to omit from his speech any appeal to the Jews or any reference to the synagogue. I was one of those who did so. We succeeded in having him omit any such appeal, and it now appears that as a result of this omission his speech has been construed by some to be anti-Semitic. If the reference to the Jews, which he desired to make, had been retained, the speech could have borne no such construction.”

The New York CIO office said in a statement that Lewis had planned to include “a friendly appeal” to the Jews but that this appeal had been withheld at the request of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. The statement made public an exchange of telegrams between Dr. Wise and Lewis in which the rabbi urged that the Jewish question not be raised and the labor leader replied: “Surely you know that I have been and am a friend of the Jewish people and a defender of their rights. I regret that you have been disturbed by the miscellaneous rumors that are current concerning my address tonight. I am confident that you will be satisfied with my address.”

Lewis had been asked by the J.T.A. bureau in Washington, shortly after his speech, to clarify that portion of the address, but his daughter, Miss Katharine Lewis, said that “Mr. Lewis will not clarify his speech; he sees no need for doing so.”

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