CHICAGO (Oct. 23)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today opened its 39th annual meeting here with an agenda concentrated largely on civil rights problems. Justice Meier Steinbrink announced his retirement as national chairman of the A.D.L.–a post he held for the past six years.
The 72-year-old Jewish communal leader, opening the four-day meeting, asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration for continuance in office “in favor of a younger man.” He added that he would continue active participation in A.D.L. affairs “to the full extent that my strength and health permit.” Election of his successor will take place tomorrow.
In his final report, Justice Steinbrink traced the growth of the League during the postwar years. He spoke critically of the proposals for reorganization of Jewish community relations voted last month at the Atlantic City plenum of the National Community Relations Advisory Council–a decision which precipitated the withdrawal of A.D.L. and the American Jewish Committee from N.C.R.A.C. “We must maintain our own control of our affairs and our freedom of action,” he said. “At the same time we should stand ready to participate and to cooperate in every useful way with other agencies, while at the same time insisting that our primary control and support must remain in our hands.”
DELEGATES HEAR MESSAGES FROM TRUMAN, EISENHOWER, STEVENSON
Messages from President Truman and the two Presidential candidates, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Gov. Adlai Stevenson, were read to the Assembly by Justice Steinbrink. Each message cited the A.D.L. for its work.
Noting that we are in “a period when civil liberties are gravely threatened.” President Truman praised the A.D.L. for its efforts “to preserve and strengthen human rights and save us from the waste of prejudice and discrimination.” The President had warm words for Sen. Herbert Lehman, who will receive the League’s annual America’s Democratic Legacy Award at the concluding session Sunday.
Gen. Eisenhower said in his message: “We must make equality of opportunity a living fact for every American regardless of race, color, or creed.” He pointed out that “when people come to understand and respect each other fully, when they have driven prejudice and bigotry from their hearts and minds, our democratic ideal will be fully reflected in the realities of American life.”
Gov. Stevenson warned against “those among us who, in the name of anti-Communism, threaten to destroy our basic liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of thought. Often the loss of these liberties occurs in a subtle way, difficult to perceive. The process may occur solely through social pressures which have intimidating effect upon people and repress their instincts of free thought and fine expression,” he emphasized.
Parallel with the meeting of the Anti-Defamation League, the executive committee of the American Jewish Committee will hold its meeting here during the weekend. The concurrent meetings of the A.D.L. and the A.J.C. will coincide with a one-day session of the Joint Defense Appeal, fund-raising arm of the two organizations.