NEW YORK (Jan. 31)
Irving M. Engel, New York lawyer and civic leader, was unanimously elected president of the American Jewish Committee today by more than 500 leaders of American Jewry, attending the final session of the AJC’s 47th annual meeting. Mr. Engel succeeds Jacob Blaustein, who had completed a five year term as president, and who was named honorary president.
Speaking at the committee’s dinner last night at the Hotel Commodore, Henry A. Byroade, Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, declared that “Israel as a state is here to stay – and the United States is here to help insure that existence. There is as well no change in the feeling of fundamental friendship which we feel for that new state,” Mr. Byroade stated.
“Where some of us would differ is on questions of tactics–tactics as to how to reach that state of stability and peace in the Middle East which is essential not only for the existence of Israel itself but in the interests of every American citizen–as these are matters which vitally affect the security and interest of our own country.”
The Assistant Secretary pointed out that it was difficult for American officials to maintain a “balanced course” between Israel and all the nations of the region in the current Middle East dispute. But, he added: “I do not believe success to be unobtainable in reaching the objectives of peace and security in the Middle East – as some would believe. As we proceed in these matters–and as questions arise in your minds–I ask you to judge each issue as to whether it is a question of method in reaching those desired objectives or a question of fundamentals as to our attitude towards Israel which I have given you in all sincerity as being facts which will not change.”
BLAUSTEIN AWARDED SILVER PLAQUE AT DINNER
At the dinner, Mr. Blaustein was awarded a silver plaque in appreciation of his services to the committee which he led for five years and whose executive committee he headed for six years before that. The presentation was made by Senator Herbert H. Lehman, who paid tribute to Mr. Blaustein’s record of service and who asserted that the AJC was one of those organizations which by their good works have helped to establish abroad a high regard for the United States.
Mr. Blaustein told the diners that “the American people are being caught in a squeeze between the very real menace of Communism and these political demagogues who are offering a remedy for the cancer of Communism as bad as the disease itself.” While he expressed the conviction that the dominant problem in the world today is the threat of Communism, Mr. Blaustein warned that another menace to America was a sharp change in strategy by native bigots who “have abandoned their rock-throwing, rough-and-tumble strategy and are now attacking those institutions of our society on which rests the security of Jews and other minority groups.”
“These institutions are fundamental to the survival of democracy,” he explained. “Yet, by exploiting cold war tensions and fears, and most of all, the fear of Communism, the hate-merchants are marshalling Americans of unquestioned patriotism to attack civil rights and civil liberties.”
ENGEL SEES NEW ATMOSPHERE OF AMITY IN U. S.
in his report as chairman of the out going executive board, Mr. Engel told the delegates that “a new atmosphere of greater racial and religious amity has been created in America.” He cited in support of this point the absence of lynching in the U.S. in the past two years and the progress in eliminating segregation in the armed forces, and called on “men of goodwill everywhere to join with us of the American Jewish Committee in this struggle to realize in practice the American dream of freedom and equality for all.”
At the same time, Mr. Engel warned that the science of human relations must keep well ahead of the science of destruction if civilization is to survive. However, he stressed that the AJC, “like most Americans,” are optimists “We believe in the possibility of progress in our moral and social life as well as in industry and science.”