American Jewish Committee Attacks Council of Jewish Federations

The American Jewish Committee today took issue with the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds over the latter’s report on evaluative studies of the work of Jewish organizations engaged in fighting for civil rights which was made public recently. The A.J.C. termed the report “incomplete” and “inaccurate.”

In a letter addressed to the C.J.F.W.F., Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, charged the Council with attempting “to create a bandwagon psychology” by employing “the steamroller technique.” He added that “the use of such technique is dangerous to the entire field of Jewish community relations.”

Declaring that the Council’s statement “gives the erroneous impression that a wave of approval of the Large City Budgeting Conference and the Evaluative Studies Committee proposals is sweeping the country,” Dr. Slawson said that “actually, there is considerable difference of view among the community organizations themselves.” Specifically, Dr. Slawson made the following charges:

1. The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, while using the designation “community organizations” had limited its illustrations to actions taken on the evaluative studies only by welfare funds and federations, and omitted the actions of community relations councils “which voted against the Evaluative Studies Committee proposal or refused to take positions.”

2. The Council “does not mention” in its report that the Community Relations Councils in Milwaukee and San Francisco disapproved the Evaluative Studies Committee proposal. It also “failed to mention” that Community Relations Councils in 12 other localities “met recently but did not endorse the proposal as such, many of them preferring to send their delegates uninstructed to the National Community Relations Advisory Council plenum.” The localities are; Baltimore, Brooklyn, Essex County, Hartford, Indiana, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Norfolk, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

3. The Council’s report “neglects to mention” that the actions taken by the welfare funds in Detroit. Boston and Milwaukee “were not paralleled by the Community Relations Councils in those cities.” In Milwaukee, Dr. Slawson said, the Community Relations Council “has taken a position directly contrary to that of the welfare funds.” He added that “no recent action has been taken by Detroit or Boston community councils.”

Commenting on the citation by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds of 20 additional communities that “have taken official action calling for improved planning and coordination, usually with division of labor and improved financing,” Dr. Slawson stated:

“Naturally, everybody supports improvement in these areas. However, the problem before us has been the manner in which such improvement can be achieved. The use of such a general term as ‘improved,’ while tacking on the vague concept ‘usually with division of labor,’ attempts to associate method, division of labor, with the general desire for improvement. Furthermore, the communities cited constitute only a very small fraction of the total number of communities.

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