American Jewish Committee Announces Policy on Presidential Elections
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American Jewish Committee Announces Policy on Presidential Elections

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The American Jewish Committee today concluded its three-day annual meeting here with a resolution urging that candidates in the forthcoming Presidential elections should not be considered on the basis of their religion, but “on the basis of their individual qualifications and their individual positions on all public issues of concern to the American people.” Herbert B. Ehrmann, of Boston, was re-elected president of the organization for a second term.

In a major address last night, Mr. Ehrmann said that United States policy is “unintentionally postponing the possibility of real peace” in the Middle East. He described the Middle East as an area where “armed conflict could start a world war”

At the same time, Mr. Ehrmann praised the United States Government for its “genuine friendship and aid” for the whole Middle East region, particularly its generous help to Israel, He added that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is “firmly established upon the basis of friendship and understanding.” However, he stressed that the U.S. Congress and the United Nations Secretary General have “in one way or another indicated a belief that our government has not fully used its prestige and power in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.”

Noting that the “hostile acts” by Arab states against Israel had been publicly disapproved by the United States, Mr. Ehrmann said, nevertheless, in various Government departments and affiliated agencies, “there appears to be an acceptance of these illegal acts.” The acts, he held, have “encouraged more and bolder steps toward an ultimate and perhaps violent conclusion.”

He cited the refusal of Arab nations to permit the loading of unloading of American cargo at an Arab port if the ship had stopped at an Israeli port. He called attention to the World Bank’s grant of $50,000,000 to the United Arab Republic to improve the Suez Canal despite the refusal to open the “canal to vessels of non-Israeli registry, which have loaded at an Israeli port.”

The AJC president, in a dramatic appeal to the Arab world, urged Arab leaders to “break out of the prison of your own propaganda and lead your people toward a life in which their energies and their spirits will be released for creative effort.” Pointing out that “Arabs and Jews have lived together for centuries in peace, ” Mr. Ehrmann said that Israel and the Arab countries “have more in common with one another” than the emotion which now separates them,


Mr. Ehrmann also dwelt on the mistreatment of Jews in the Soviet Union and on the dangers of the resurgence of neo-Nazism in Germany. He stressed that the problem in Germany is “not merely a matter of anti-Semitism” but of educating the Germans of all ages “by all available means” to become emotionally attached to the principles of democracy;

Jacob Blaustein, honorary AJC president, who recently returned from the Middle East, said that “the danger of Communist penetration is still one of the essential factors in the Middle East.” He pointed out that “The Aswan Dam is being built by the Soviet Union, and large quantities of arms of highest quality, including submarines and Jet planes, are being supplied at very low prices with very long deferred payment terms. Hundreds of Egyptian army men are being trained in Soviet military academies and in Egypt.”

Mr. Blaustein warned that in the face of Soviet aid to the Arab countries, “Israel’s military position may be declining, ” He asserted that ” is in the interests not only of Israel, but the West and the peace of the world” that the military status quo in the Middle East be maintained as a pre-requisite to peace in the region.


Dr. John Slaw son, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, predicted that the 1960’s would be fraught with “tensions in intergroup relations, particularly in our urban life.” He said this would be caused by “profound changes in population-size and composition, in mobility of people both geographically and economically.”

Dr. Slawson, an authority on intergroup relations, particularly warned about a new form of social tension which could emerge in the so-called “golden” or “affluent” sixties. He described these tensions as “status panic.” He said this situation arises when “upward economic mobility brings forth a competition within middle-class groups for social status,”

Status striving and “status panic,” he said, is marked by a tendency to exclude the “other fellow” in order to enhance one’s own status. He foresaw an intense and bitter struggle with respect to “residential areas and discrimination in private housing,”

Irving M. Engel, honorary AJC president, stated that “Seven hundred episodes of anti-religious vandalism” were reported in the United States since the first of this year,” They point up a dangerous and severe problem of Juvenile alienation in this country, ” he said. He asserted that the vast majority of those apprehended were young people–between the ages of 15 and 18 years.

Mr. Engel said that the fact that these young Americans could associate themselves with “manifestations of a philosophy as repugnant as Nazism is a frightening commentary on the maladjustment of some segments of American youth.”

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