Use of Law in Fighting Bias Urged by American Jewish Organizations

The use of law, in conjunction with educational efforts, as a means of fighting anti-Semitism and advancing equal rights and equal opportunities for all, is recommended in a statement signed by 66 social scientists, lawyers and Jewish community relations experts released here today by the National Community Relations Advisory Council, coordinating body of a number of major Jewish organizations and local Jewish community relations councils.

“The first responsibility of Jewish community relations agencies is to deal with matters directly affecting Jews,” the statement declares. “Experience shows, however, not only that discrimination against any one group threaten the rights of all, but also that the rights of all are equally affected by legal measures taken in defense of any one.” Specific recommendations include the following:

1. “That Jewish community relations agencies engage in activities designed to prevent discrimination against any group, as an appropriate part of their long-range program to contribute to Jewish security in the United States.

2. “That Jewish community relations agencies give support to measures designed to preserve civil liberties.

3. “When shortages or lack of facilities tend to intensify discrimination, as in employment, housing or education, measures to expand opportunities and facilities are a proper concern of Jewish agencies.

4. “When a social welfare bill is pending, there is sometimes a question whether Jewish agencies should support inclusion of a provision to insure that it is administered without segregation or other forms of discrimination. In general, we favor inclusion. We recognize, however, that insistence on such provisions may sometimes prevent the passage of needed welfare legislation. We recommend that the decision to insist or not to insist on such provisions be made on a case-by-case basis in the light of the relative values involved.

5. “That Jewish agencies support efforts to remove procedural barriers that serve to block enactment of legislation embodying desirable community relations objectives.

6. “That there be full support of measures designed to secure effective implementation of the law, including appropriations, appointments, and effective administrative procedures and action.”

“The complexity of the problems in using the law to advance community objectives places a strain on the limited resources of the Jewish community,” the statement says. “We therefore believe it is important to conduct continuing joint planning to deal with questions of priority, strategy, and timing, and to determine the most effective use of the resources available to all the agencies. We recommend that all Jewish community relations agencies, national and local, participate in the joint formulation of policy and the joint planning of activities in relation to particular measures for the advancement of their objectives.”

In commenting on the report, Bernard H. Trager, of Bridgeport, NCRAC chairman, observed that it laid to rest an old controversy as to whether law or education was the better avenue toward social change. “We believe now,” said Mr. Trager, “not only that law and education are compatible approaches to the promotion of equality, but that they complement each other in several respects and should be so utilized. Every action to improve community relationships requires a balanced program of education, research, and social action.”

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