American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith Testify at Senate Hearing on F.e.p.c. Bill
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American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith Testify at Senate Hearing on F.e.p.c. Bill

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Leaders of the American Jewish Committee. B’nai B’rith and National Council of Jewish Women today testified before a Senate sub-committee in favor of the Ives Bill barring racial discrimination in employment.

Speaking for the American Jewish Committee, Ben Herzberg, chairman of the legal and civic affairs committee of the organization, told the sub-committee that “to deny a man a job because of religion or color is a cruel injustice” and “harmful to our economy.” He cited the success of the anti-bias law now in force in New York State, where complaints have been settled by negotiation without recourse to courts, and denied that federal anti-discrimination legislation would cause more friction than it would remove.

Emphasizing that compulsory enforcement provisions are necessary, Herzberg lauded the safeguards contained in the Ives Bill. “The Act,” he pointed out, “calls for mediation before any action can be initiated by the commission. In the absence of a hearing, there will be no publicity, and the commission can only enforce an order if it is approved by a court. The Act is not one-sided, because an employer can complain of his employees.”


Frank Goldman, president of B’nai B’rith, said that “prejudice and bigotry are not confined within state borders but constitute a national problem calling for treatment on a national and state level.” Pointing out that the Ives Bill is protective legislation for equality of economic opportunity, Goldman said that it tries “to make effective in every-day life the principles of democracy which we preach abroad.”

He characterized the bill as “a temperate measure,” and warned against “misleading cries of radicalism and governmental interference with the rights of free enterprise. Actually,” he said, the bill “is merely another application of one of the long-established principles of our government, to safeguard by specific legislation the fundamental rights of all citizens.” Passage of the legislation, Goldman declared, would facilitate carrying out the nation’s program of high production and fair employment.

The special interest of the National Council of Jewish Women in supporting the bill was stated by Mrs. H. Wolfe of Richmond, Va., who said “we want to protect our children from the employment discrimination which has been the experience of our generation. We do not believe that it is in keeping with the American way of life for an American to be barred from the occupation of his choice because of his color or religion or the country from which his parents came,” she declared.

Mrs. Wolfe, representing the national committee on education and social action of the Council, said that “so long as any American is kept from making a living because of race, religion or national origin, our country cannot be completely free or its people economically secure.” The war-time F.E.P.C., she said, proved that people of many races, religions and nationalities could work together toward a common goal. She emphasized that the need for protection against discrimination is even greater today than during the war, in view of a “noticeable trend toward contraction of employment” and resulting heightened tensions connected with discharge of members of minority groups.

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