WASHINGTON (Oct. 8)
Elements within the American Council for Judaism are taking divergent views on whether their anti-Zionist organization should devote itself more to basic American issues by taking a stand along with other organized religious groups on the desegregation crisis.
National president Clarence L. Coleman, Jr., here for the dedication of the organization’s new regional office, expressed a personal view, questioning whether Jewish groups should speak out on the issue of Negro rights. Mr. Coleman said he did not wish his own opinion to be construed as reflecting official ACJ policy which apparently continues under discussion within the organization.
ACJ members in the South have urged that the group confine its activities to “combatting Zionism.” But outside the South, others hold that as both Jews and Americans, they want their national organization to take a pro-integration stand conforming with that taken by the Reform rabbinate. This was described as part of a new tendency seeking the broadening of the “American base” of the Council’s operations in order to strengthen its position that Zionism is not a legitimate part of the American scene, and that Jews may legitimately act as co-religionists but not as co-nationalists.
Many of the ACJ leadership acknowledge that the desegregation question is the leading domestic American human rights problem involving Americans of all faiths. However, they feel the ACJ budget is too limited to enter this area of activity, that it might split the organization along sectional lines, and detract from the major goal of fighting Zionism.
Mr. Coleman stressed that the Israel Government should promote peace during the present lull in the Middle East by abandoning “expansionist Zionism” and restricting immigration. He said the new Washington office would engage in no lobbying activities but would serve the membership of this region of the country including members in Richmond and elsewhere in the South.