DETROIT (Nov. 13)
Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee, told 400 delegates to the Joint Defense Appeal meeting here this week-end that Jewish communities in this country have the “permanent obligation” of promoting better human relations among all groups in American life. The J.D.A. is the fundraising arm of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish leaders, representing 41 states, were told by Mr. Blaustein that this “permanent obligation” must enjoy the same measure of support that the Jewish people give to local, national and overseas philanthropies. “For it should be obvious,” he declared, “that the continued stability of American Jewry is essential if we are to maintain our communal life in all its institutional forms, and to assist Jews abroad and in Israel to achieve security for themselves.”
Mr. Blaustein maintained it is no longer sufficient for American Jews to concern themselves exclusively with philanthropic activities “as essential as they are,” but must take a widespread and active interest in civil, political, economic and religious positions concerning themselves and their fellow Americans.
Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, told the conference that America cannot maintain its international “leadership for peace” if discrimination against minorities discredits the United States in the eyes of world opinion. Terming the need for America’s “150 odd religious sects and 60 national region groups to learn to live together in amity and dignity” the “number one problem,” Dr. Slawson declared the key to the solution lay in the shift from “philanthropy for the needy to healthy inter-sectarian and intergroup relations among our people.” He urged Jews, as members of a religious group who have “suffered more than any other people from discrimination,” to lend vigorous support to programs designed to foster intergroup amity.
“GREAT STRIDES” MADE IN COMBATTING DISCRIMINATION, ADL DIRECTOR SAYS
Speaking before the panel on community services, Benjamin H. Epstein, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said “great strides” in the field of combatting prejudice and discrimination have been made on a regional basis. The so-called Springfield Plan, the Montclair Audit, the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission, New York State’s Commission Against Discrimination, and Mayor’s Committees for Unity are some of the most effective programs that have been tested in local communities and then adopted for national promotion, he said. He asserted that regional groups, familiar with their local problems are in the best position to “devise appropriate remedial action programs” which affect not only the lane but the morals of their community.
While there is a feeling of “direct and immediate responsibility” for the relief and rehabilitation of Jews throughout the world, there is almost no realization of equally urgent responsibility for the protection of their civil and economic rights, Simon Segal, A.J.C. foreign affairs director, declared at the panel on foreign affairs. Segal pointed out that not even immigration could permanently solve the problem of Jewish communities overseas unless “we create conditions under which Jews can develop as self-respecting citizens” of the countries where they now reside.
“American Jews have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Europe for relief and rehabilitation. We have spent very little or practically nothing for the rehabilitation of Jewish cultural and communal life. It is up to the agencies like the A.J.C. and A.D.L. to help organize Jewish communities overseas in a way which would enable them to fight effectively for equality of rights.”