Anti-defamation League Differs with Council of Jewish Federations

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today issued a statement declaring that the recent announcement of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds on community reactions to the report of the Evaluative Studies Committee of the National Community Relations Advisory Council creates a “misleading impression.”

The League made public the text of a letter to the Council stating that community groups with voting power at the plenum of the N.C.R.A.C. have given no “wave of approval” to the report, but instead have shown “a great divergence of viewpoint, with a majority definitely not in favor of the report.”

The letter, signed by Benjamin R. Epstein, A.D.L. national director, claimed that “the staff of the C.J.F.W.F. and some of the leading welfare directors who are members of the Large City Budgeting Conference have interfered with efforts to reach an amicable solution and a reasonable organization of community relations work. They fought to the last ditch against the agreement which was reached at last plenum of the N.C.R.A.C. despite their opposition. Since then, the community pot has been kept at a boiling point by the activities of welfare fund professionals.

“The forthcoming plenum of the N.C.R.A.C. has the opportunity to arrive at a plan which would have salutary effect upon the whole community relations field,” the letter said. “It will not be achieved, however, if certain leaders of the C.J.F.W.F. continue to mislead the American-Jewish community and continue their drive for power and control. We believe,” the letter continued, “that you have given credence to the charge that there has been a power drive on the part of the professional welfare fund directors to assume leadership in this field as well as in other communal endeavors.

“Welfare funds raise money for the national agencies by agreement. In no instance have these agreements ever included the right of the welfare funds to dictate policy or procedures to the national agencies. No self-respecting national agency could possibly accept the dictates of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, and indeed, it is doubtful that most welfare funds think of themselves in such a role. Under no circumstances, would the Anti-Defamation League, for one, be party to such an agreement. It should also be very clear to you, of course, that a very large proportion, indeed the major proportion of A.D.L. funds, are not derived from welfare fund sources.”

COUNCIL TERMS A.D.L. IMPLICATIONS “FANTASTIC AND INCREDIBLE”

Harry Lurie, executive director of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, commenting on Mr. Epstein’s letter, said in a statement: “Mr. Epstein apparently is so steeped in the habit of investigating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic activities that he approaches statements on Jewish communal affairs with similar suspicions and anxieties.

“The implications he derives from my factual statement on the actions taken by Jewish federations, welfare funds and community council on the MacIver Report are so fantastic and incredible that they scarcely warrant a reply. One can only say that his unfounded emotions about ‘power drives,’ and ‘dictation of professional welfare fund directors’ et cetera have no existence in the reality from which Mr. Epstein seems to be removed.”

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