Ajc, ADL Threaten Walk-out if Ncrac Votes Reorganization
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Ajc, ADL Threaten Walk-out if Ncrac Votes Reorganization

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The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith served notice today that they would walk out of the National Community Relations Advisory Council if the tenth annual conference now in session here voted acceptance of pending proposals for reorganization of community relations work and allocation of functions among the six participating national organizations.

Spokesmen for the two organizations submitted an alternative plan for reorganization of the work. Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee, asserted this plan “represents the farthest we can go.” He appealed to the conference to take no action to precipitate the “totally avoidable tragedy” of a walk-out by the two organizations.

Frank Goldman, president of B’nai B’rith, told the conference that its acceptance of the proposals by its special Evaluative Committee would compel the ADL and the AJC to leave the NCRAC. He rejected suggestions by Irving Kane, NCRAC chairman, that the two organizations could remain within the NCRAC even though they dissented from the reorganization plan. He said the joint proposals “contain the maximum to which at this time we can go and retain our membership in this organization.”

The joint proposals called for establishment of “joint operating committees” in each of the six fields of community relations work. These committees would be composed of representatives of agencies with a “record of activity” in the specific fields, organized on the following basis:

1. Veterans Affairs Committee, in which the American Jewish Committee, ADL and Jewish War Veterans would have equal representation with the JWV representative as permanent chairman.

2. Intercultural Education Committee, with equal representation for the American Jewish Committee and ADL, “the only two now operating in this area, “with the possibility of inclusion of the National Conference of Christian and Jews which is not a member of NCRAC.

3. Interreligious Activities Committee, with three representatives each for the American Jewish Committee and ADL and six for the Synagogue Council of America which is not now a member of NCRAC.

4. Labor Committee, representing the Jewish Labor Committee, American Jewish Committee and ADL.

5. Civil Rights Committee, with equal representation for the American Jewish Committee and ADL. Sponsors of the plan said it has not been possible to achieve col- laboration with the American Jewish Congress but called for “practical steps” to enlarge the committee to include this agency.

6. A committee “to extend and increase coordination” between the American Jewish Committee and the ADL in the field of investigation of anti-Semitism.

The joint proposals also would give representation in the Joint Defense Appeal to the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds.


The fireworks in the year-long battle was centered around the two proposals for division of functions among the national organizations in the community relations field with the NCRAC in the role of coordinator and policy agency, and for a national budget review commission which would appraise the requirements for the entire community relations field and for the individual organizations and make recommendations to the organizations and to the welfare funds.

The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, in their bitter opposition to both proposals charge that they would lead to “authoritarianism” and a deterioration of the work being done.

Under the division of functions proposed by the Special Committee on Evaluative Studies after studies inspired by the Maclver Report, maintenance of relations with labor would be assigned to the Jewish Labor Committee; with veterans, to the Jewish War Veterans; and with religious groups, to an instrument including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform elements.

Legal and legislative services for removing discrimination would be the responsibility of the American Jewish Congress. To the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League would be assigned jointly investigative and corrective action and development of a positive program of inter-group relations. The two organizations would be expected to agree between themselves, within a time to be fixed by the conference, on a division of responsibility.


These proposals came under immediate attack. David L. Ulman, of Philadelphia, NCRAC treasurer, pointed out that the plan gave the two dissenting organizations a majority in each of these six new committees. He said these committees would operate outside the NCRAC and that no provision whatever was made for representation of the communities.

In a twelfth hour appeal to the delegates not to accept the proposals of the Evaluative Studies Committee, Mr. Blaustein assailed them as designed to convert the NCRAC into a “centralized authoritative overall agency,” based on the concept of a “Jewish peoplehood constituting a separate enclave in the American communities in which Jews reside.” He called this a “nationalistic concept.”

Isaac Toubin, associate director of the American Jewish Congress, told the conference that “what is now at issue is the continued existence and expansion of forms of community organization which we Jews have come to accept as the norm in our communal life in America. “Urging adoption of the committee report, he declared there was nothing in the recommendations which sought to set up a “unitary or monolithic agency or which in any way threatens the integrity of existing national agencies”


An appeal to the constituent organizations associated in the NCRAC to subordinate individual interests to the overriding interests of the American Jewish community was sounded last night by Irving Kane, of Cleveland, chairman of the agency, addressing the opening session of the three-day annual conference which is attended by 150 delegates representing the six major national organizations and the 27 community councils affiliated with the NCRAC.

In his plea for agreement, Mr. Kane stressed the advisory nature of the NCRAC and the fact that it could not enforce its decisions on its participating organizations. He described the unsuccessful efforts to achieve unanimity on the report covering the recommendations and exclaimed, “we must put an end to this seemingly endless Jewish Panmunjom.” He told the session that “if it is in the interest of all American Jews that the individual organizations participate in this joint endeavor, how can it possibly succeed unless the participating organizations think not only of their rights and prerogatives but also of their responsibilities and obligations to each other and to the Jewish community as a whole.”

Isaiah Minkoff, executive director of NCRAC, in his report to the conference stressed the value of cooperation and coordination in the community relations field. He warned that the alternatives to cooperation and coordination were, on the one hand, authoritarianism and, on the other, anarchy and chaos. And the latter condition, he said, would result in a “dog eat dog competition” from which the strongest organization would emerge in an authoritarian position. In presenting the report of the committee to the session, Harry I. Barron, of Cleveland, committee chairman, stressed that the proposed division of functions was not an end in itself but a means to make the joint planning program more effective.

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