Menu JTA Search

Convention of American Jewish Congress Discusses Major Problems

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Problems affecting American Jewish life as well as American-Israel relations were discussed here today at the biennial convention of the American Jewish Congress attended by 1,500 delegates from all over the country. The delegates will be addressed tomorrow evening by former President Harry Truman.

Addressing the session today, James G. McDonald, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, said that “hastry and till-considered action” by the United Nations Chief of Staff in Israel and Secretary of State Dulles’ action in penalizing Israel for its work on the Jordan River project have brought about the present crisis between Israel and the Arab states.

Mr. McDonald said that the actions of Gen. Vagn Bennike, U.N. Chief of Staff, in forcing Israel to cease work on the Jordan River, and Secretary Dulles’ order stopping American financial aid to Israel, although done in the name of “impartiality,” have served to encourage Arab resistance against reacing a peace settlement with the Jewish State.

Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, took the Archbishop of York to tak for revealing a “sinister prejudice unbecoming a Christian leader” when he made his observation that the “Jewish vote ” in New York had a paralyzing effect on the U.N. handling of the Arab-Israel problem. He emphasized that the Archbishop’s pro-Arab partisanship in nothing new. “It is of a piece with his previously expressed views,” he stated.

ORGANIZED ANTI-SEMITISM IS AT LOWEST EBB, PETEGORSKY REPORTS

Dr. David Petegorsky, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, surveying major trends on the American scene in regard to civil rights, said that “there have been disturbing retreats on the maintenance of the separation of Church and State both as a fundamental principle of American democracy and as an indispensable safeguard of the freedom and vitality of religion in this country.” He cited as evidence the intensification of efforts to invade the public school system through such practices as the use of its facilities or time for religious instruction, the introduction of prayer or other forms of religious exercise into the classroom and the distribution of sectarian literature in the schools.

Reporting on various aspects of group relations in this country for the past two years. Dr. Petegorsky asserted that organized defamation of various racial and religious groups is at its lowest ebb in many years. “For some months in 1952, during the election campaign,” he said, “the hate groups swung into more vigorous action, and anti-Semitic literature was widely distributed in many parts of the country. But, by and large, the anti-Semitic agitators have been unable to attrack any substantial following and, for the moment, the threat presented by their propaganda remains a minor one.”

While organized defamation, Dr. Petegorsky declared, has become in this country “a less troublesome problem,” the use of violence against members of various racial and religious groups, has assumed serious proportions. “During the past few years,” he asserted, “lynching has virtually disappeared from the American scene but bombings and other forms of violence have been employed both to vent racial and religious hatreds and to intimidate groups that have been most vigorous in demanding equality of rights for all Americans.”

Julian Freeman, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, representing Jewish communal fund-raising and social work agencies in 800 cities, pointed out that the members of his Council in those cities have raised one billion dollars in the last seven years. Others speakers included Louis Lipsky, Living Kane, Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, and Maurice Samuel.

NEXT STORY