NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
A joint plan for coordinated action on Jewish community relations problems, adopted by six major Jewish organizations and 48 local Jewish councils, were announced here today by the National Community Relations Advisory Council, the coordinating body of the 54 Jewish groups.
The plan sets forth coordinated programs designed to protect religious freedom; foster good inter religious relationships; counter Arab propaganda; promote public understanding of America’s stake in preserving peace with justice and stability in the Middle East; protect the rights of American citizens against discriminations imposed by Arab states; advance equal rights and equal opportunities for all without regard to religion, race, color or national origin; liberalize U. S. immigration policies and provide more effective refugee aid; defend the Supreme Court against efforts to discredit it, and increase the effectiveness of Jewish community relations work generally.
The six national organizations affiliated with the NCRAC are the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans of the U. S. A. , Union of America Hebrew Congregations. Union of Orthodox Congregations of America, and United Synagogue of America.
OVERT ANTI-SEMITISM FOUND AT EBB; CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES LISTED
While noting an increase in anti-Semitic agitation and distribution of hate literature, “especially in some parts of the South as bigots sought to exploit tensions over the desegregation controversy,” the plan concludes that the appeals were almost universally disregarded and rejected and that overt anti-Semitism continued at a low ebb.
The plan establishes that there is an abatement of rancor in public debate of issues on which various religious groups are disagreed, and calls for enlarged open discussion of such issues. Prominent among such issues, the plan observes, are questions of relationships between church and state.
“Intrusions of religion upon the public schools” were major causes of inter religious conflict, the plan asserts. “Such issues as religious symbols in public school classrooms, Bible-reading, prayer recitation and baccalaureate services vied with holiday observances as bases for controversy over religion in the schools.”
Sunday closing laws are cited as another source of conflict among religious groups during the past year. The plan calls for “increased efforts for exemption of Sabbath observers from application” of such laws, which it labels “intrusions by the state on religious freedom.”
Noting that a 1958 federal “humane slaughtering” law explicitly defined the Jewish religious method of slaughter as humane, the plan calls for intensification of public educational activities to spread knowledge of the humaneness of the Jewish religious method of slaughter.
ARAB BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL AND U. S. JEWISH CITIZENS ANALYZED
Reviewing developments in the Middle East that are of concern to the American Jewish community, the plan comments with gratification on the growth of friendly relations between the United States and Israel, and the extension of Israel’s diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations with new Asian and African states.
Citing conflict and disunity among Arab states, “arising out of opposition to Nasser’s imperialistic machinations.” it says that this “helped to expose the hollowness of the Arab propaganda seeking to depict Israel as the root of all the trouble in the region.” The plan calls Egypt’s interference with Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal an attempt by Nasser to recoup the prestige he has lost since the Sinai campaign when his armies suffered a severe defeat at the hands of Israel.
The plan calls for continuing efforts to foster public understanding in the United States of this nation’s stake in the establishment of a just and stable peace in the Middle East, and for effective counteraction of false Arab propaganda here.
Declaring that the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government “continues to acquiesce” in the imposition by Arab governments of discriminations against United States citizens because they are Jews, the plan calls for “continuing remonstrances.” It cites evidence of anti-Jewish discrimination by public employment agencies in referring applicants to the Arabian-American Oil Co. for work not only in Arabia, but in the U.S., and Aramco’s boycotting of American firms owned by Jews.
The plan of the Jewish organizations urges “sustained demands upon the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, the President’s Committee on Government Employment Policy, and state and municipal fair employment practices commissions to assure that recruitment of personnel for employment in foreign nations conforms to federal, state and local laws and regulations.”
The plan takes note of movement in Congress toward modification of the national origins quota system for making immigration visas available and toward the inclusion of provisions for refugee relief within the permanent immigration code. It pledges educational efforts by Jewish organizations to increase public understanding of the need for such revisions in U.S. immigration policies, especially replacement of the national origins quota system.
Commenting favorably on the observance of World Refugee Year, as proclaimed by the United Nations, the plan commits the Jewish organizations to cooperation with the United States Committee for Refugees in seeking effective solutions to the world-wide refugee problem.
It also expressed support of the proposal advanced by U. S. representatives that the program for direct relief to the Arab refugees of the Arab-Israel war be replaced by a program of help to the refugees in becoming self-sufficient in the countries where they now are.
“American Jewish organizations long have contended, “the plan observes, “that a decade of experience has demonstrated the inadequacy of direct relief as a solution to the Arab refugee problem. This view has come to be generally shared by objective students, though it continues to be rejected for political reasons by the Arab states.”