American Jewish Committee Adopts Program for Post-war Solution of Jewish Problems
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American Jewish Committee Adopts Program for Post-war Solution of Jewish Problems

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A four point program for the post-war solution of Jewish problems stressing “an international bill of rights for the individual, as well as the state,” was promulgated by Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, president of the American Jewish Committee, in his presidential address today before the thirty-seventh annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee.

Before two hundred Jewish leaders assembled from throughout the United States for an all day conference at the Hotel Weldorf Astoria, Judge Proskauer said that “the titanic assault by which the Nazis singled out the Jews for special destruction” can be repaired only by:

1. “The setting up of a program of relief for Jews suffering as a result of the havoc and ruin of Axis barbarism. This means that mass evacuation must not be the rule, but the exception necessitated by specific economic necessities.

2. “The establishment of “a new international bill of rights for the individual, as well as the state in which the narrowing forces of supernationalism and chauvinism must, in these aspects, give way to the demands of justice and reason.”

3. The international supervision of “a program of emigration when necessary. This is not a situation,” Judge Proskauer said, “which Jews alone should or can meet.” He pointed out, however, that it will be the duty of Jewish organizations to give such help as they can in the fields of both relief and emigration.

4. The safeguarding and development of Palestine “as a center of economic, religious and cultural lives for Jews who desire to live there.” Judge Proskauer pointed out that the American Jewish Committee has urged Great Britain to abolish the Palestine White Paper of 1939 “which discriminates against immigration of Jews.” He made it clear, however, that Palestine must not be considered “the exclusive or the complete solution for the Jews of Europe” and that no matter what “the political constitution of Palestine should be there could be no political identification of Jews outside of Palestine with whatever government may be there instituted.”


For Palestine, itself, the American Jewish Committee recommends “an international trusteeship responsible to the United Nations” which would “safeguard Jewish settlement and immigration into Palestine and guarantee adequate scope for future growth and development to the full extent of the absorptive capacity of the country.” The Committee further recommends the establishment “within a reasonable period of a self-governing Commonwealth under a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that will safeguard and protect the fundamental rights of all inhabitants and the holy places of all faiths.”

Judge Proskauer, who was re-elected to the presidency of the American Jewish Committee, discussed the problem of bigotry in the United States. Deploring the growth of “venal organized manifestations of anti-Semitism which seek either sordid money or sordid political power,” he warned Jews against “taking counsel of our fears.” He urged a policy “of decency and brotherhood, and not divisiveness and hostility” in the solution of specific problems of anti-Semitism.


The official report of the executive committee, read by Mr. Jacob Blaustein, chairman, praised President Roosevelt for his recent appointment of a War Refugee Board which was called “the most constructive thing done thus for towards the rescue from the Nazis of as many Jews and other persecuted minorities of Europe as possible.” Great faith in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency was also expressed by Mr. Blaustein who emphasized that “the task before the UNRRA is so huge that it will need whatever cooperation private agencies will be able to give.”

Mr. Blaustein’s report as chairman of the executive committee recognized that “Nazi propaganda techniques have succeeded to no inconsiderable extent in creating and increasing group hatreds and suspicions between various sections and fragments of the population of the United States.” He warned that “post-war conditions unfortunately are often propitious for the exploitation for political purposes of general group hostility and anti-Jewish prejudice, should there be social and economic dislocations and political strife at that time.”


The overseas problem facing world Jewry was discussed by George Z. Medalie, chairman of the Overseas Committee, who explained the necessity for “the establishment of an international Bill of Rights of Man to invasion of his rights by reason of race or religion”

“At the conclusion of the first World War,” Mr. Medalie said, “it was widely thought that the system of minorities guarantees would insure Jewish equality. The fact that the status of the Jews throughout Europe has deteriorated so drastically since then is not a perfect proof of the failure of minorities rights, since that deterioration can perhaps with even greater justice be attributed to the general breakdown of international morality and social stability during the Long Armistice. Nevertheless, our faith in the system of minorities guarantees has been shaken; some students entirely reject it.” Mr. Medalie urged that the gates of Palestine “be kept open to the full limits of its economic absorptive capacity.”


Morris D. Waldman, vice-chairman of the executive committee, urged that post-war peace planning stress human self-determination, rather than national self-determination. “This principle of national self-determination, product of the first World War,” he said, “was largely responsible for the present global catastrophe. In order to insure world peace in the future, this war will have to produce something different from that of the first World War. Predominant international thinking is in the direction of a world order that repudiates racist state theory. If we are to have a lasting peace, the equal rights of all inhabitants of every country, regardless of race or forced, must be insured.”

Dr. John Slawson, newly elected executive vice-president, indicated the basic philosophy of the American Jewish Committee when he said: “American Jews, like all Americans, must be global in their outlook; they must be neither provincial nor isolationist. The American Jewish Committee must make available to American Jews all the background material necessary to complete understanding of problems of particular interest to Jews so that, both as Americans and as Jews, they can make seasoned decisions based upon fact, rather than judgments based on emotionalism nourished on a diet of concentrated propaganda.”


Mr. David Sher announced a change in the corporate structure of the American Jewish Committee, approved by the annual meeting, which provides for a general membership in the American Jewish Committee “to all Jews who are citizens of the United States and who desire to aid in furthering the purpose and program of the organization” and the creation of local chapters of the American Jewish Committee in cities and localities throughout the country.

Officers elected, besides Judge Proskauer, were: Jacob Blaustein, chairman of the executive committee; Morris D. Waldman, vice-chairman of the executive committee; Alan M. Strock, chairman of the administrative committee; Judge J. J. Kaplan, Boston, Judge Edward Lazansky, Brooklyn, Judge M. C. Sloss, San Francisco, Fred Lazarus, Jr., Columbus, Judge Horace Stern, Philadelphia, and Henry Wineman, Detroit, vice-presidents; Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president; Victor S. Riesenfeld, secretary; Ira M. Younker, treasurer; Nathan M. Ohrbach, associate treasurer.

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