NEW YORK (Nov. 15)
Criticism of the growing tendency of certain Jewish bodies to counsel excessive caution on controversies where basic principles of democratic freedoms are involved.” was voiced today by Dr. David Petegorsky, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, on the eve of the organization’s biennial convention which will continue throughout the week-end at the Hotel New Yorker.
In a report on the activities of the American Jewish Congress, prepared for the convention, Dr. Petegorsky said that although limited gains have been made in some sectors of the struggle for civil rights in America, the general pattern is not encouraging. “Civil rights and liberties are insecure and further assaults are not unlikely, national legislation on civil rights is remote. The record of the courts has been dishearteningly uneven. Enforcement of existing civil rights laws has been neither imaginative nor vigorous. The winds of the cold war have chilled the enthusiasm of many who were in the vanguard of battle,” he declared.
In his report, Dr. Petegorsky stated that the practical support which Israel desperately requires is being jeopardized “by the revival of ancient fears about the implications of the existence of a Jewish state for Jewish life elsewhere” and that “these fears have prevented the full and proper affirmation by American Jews of all their responsibilities to the development of Israel. ” The Zionist movement, he said, has been weakened by “its insistence on preserving an organizational status quo which is being increasingly challenged, and by its emphasis on inter-Zionist political differences which have no relevance outside of Israel.”
if the movement is to provide the stable foundation on which support for Israel must rest, Zionist parties, the report declared, must set aside their ideological I differences, unite in forthright affirmation of the obligations of American Jews to Israel, demonstrate the relevance of Israel for Jewish living in America and be pre-I pared to merge their strengths and resources with like-minded Jewish bodies in carrying out broad programs of Jewish activity.
CONGRESS WILL SUPPORT MOST OF MACLVER’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Or. Petegorsky revealed that, while the Congress challenged many of Prof, Robert Maclver’s ideological assumptions, it would strongly support most of his practical recommendations. Other national agencies, the report asserted, “will seek to prevent the adoption of these recommendations or to postpone their implementation.”
IN his report, Dr. Petegorsky observed that an encouraging development has been the growing recognition of the dangerous consequences of the neglect of Jewish education. He revealed that the American Jewish Congress, through its recently-established Commission on Jewish Living, had been conducting intensive studies on the problems of Jewish education in the United States and that its contributions in this field may prove to be “excitingly pioneering.”
“Organized Jewish activity, ” the report declared, “has justification only if it is motivated not merely by a desire to assure the security of Jews but by the ideal of preserving and enriching historic Jewish religious, ethical, cultural and moral values.”