NEW YORK (Sep. 20)
A demand that the adoption of rules “to insure fair play in connection with Congressional committee investigations” be made the first order of business of Congress when it reconvenes was voiced today by six major national Jewish organizations and 30 Jewish community councils throughout the country.
“There are few more urgent matters on our domestic agenda,” these organizations said in a statement. They called for elimination of “the shameful and damaging spectacle of character-assassination and reputation-smearing through the irresponsible publication of unsupported charges by agencies of government which should be most concerned for the defense and preservation of justice, equity and democratic freedom.”
Subscribing to the statement were the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, United Synagogue of America, and local Jewish community councils throughout the country. The statement was released through the National Community Relations Advisory Council which is the joint policy formulating and coordinating body for all these groups.
The Jewish organizations expressed gratification over what they called “the spontaneous surge of protests by responsible religious and civic organizations” which had been aroused by the release by the House Committee on Un-American Activities of testimony naming the late Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the late Judah L. Magnes and the Rev. Dr. John Haynes Holmes among a number of other clergymen as having “carried out the instructions the Communist Party or collaborated with it.”
“These great spiritual leaders of our time need no defense by us and it is no part of our present concern to defend them,” the statement of the organizations said. “What does concern us and has occasioned expressions of concern by so many other organizations is that the charges were published on the basis of purely hearsay testimony given weeks before, still unsupported by credible evidence of any kind to indicate the nature of the activities in which the accused are alleged to have engaged or to substantiate the charges and without affording an opportunity to the persons charged or their representatives to meet the charges.”
The power of Congress to conduct investigations through its committees is not called into question, the Jewish groups assert; but they add that there cannot be “any doubt that in a democratic society such power must be exercised with a full sense of responsibility. Certainly it is not a function of Congressional Committees to serve as conduits for the transmission of unsupported charges which may be presented to them.”