LOS ANGELES (Jul. 7)
A spokesman for 34 national religious, labor and civic bodies of all faiths and interests called on the Democratic Party, at a hearing today of its platform committee, to pledge to “implement the repeatedly expressed opposition of the Congress to the imposition by foreign governments of discriminations against United States citizens on grounds of race or religion.”
Judge Isaac Pacht of Los Angeles, vice-chairman of the National Community Relations Advisory Council, spokesman for the 34 agencies and groups, also urged the Democratic Party to “oppose any international agreement or treaty which by its terms or practices differentiates among United States citizens on grounds of race or religion.”
Judge Pacht told the platform committee that “this proposed plank deals principally but not exclusively with one of the most egregious forms of discrimination against American citizens by foreign states, the widespread campaign by Arab League countries against American Jews–a campaign that so far has been acquiesced in, if not condoned by our own government.”
He explained that “broadly, the forms of this discrimination may be grouped into three categories: 1. Arab denial of entry or transit visas to American Jews; 2. Arab boycott of American Jewish businesses; 3. The exclusion of American Jewish citizens from United States Government civilian and military posts and from employment on United States defense contracts in Arab countries.”
SUBMITTED AS CIVIL RIGHTS QUESTION
Judge Pacht pointed out to the committee that the proposed platform plank was submitted, for the first time, as part of an overall civil rights program rather than as a foreign policy proposal because the organizations he represented recognized that “any impairment of the citizenship rights of one group of Americans impairs the rights of all.”
The spokesman noted that “official justification for our ‘do-nothing policy’ in this area repeatedly has been couched in terms that emphasize the need for solicitude in dealing with Arab governments so that we may protect military and economic relations presumed to be vital to our national interests.”
He expressed conviction, however, that “a realistic appraisal of the Middle East will disclose that no legitimate American interest is in real danger from Arab rulers whose economic advancement is largely dependent upon American investment dollars. He told the committee that “the foreign relations of this country are more solidly grounded on principle rather than expedient.”
CHOICE IS BETWEEN FREEDOM AND PROFIT
In the past, he said, “when confronted with a threat to the liberties of its citizens–indeed, when forced to choose between continuing exactly the kind of anti-Semitism now practiced by the Arab states and risking the possibility of economic loss–this country, in the administration of Woodrow Wilson, did not waver or equivocate. The claim of freedom was accorded greater force and dignity than the claim of profit.”
In addition to speaking for the NCRAC, Judge Pacht also presented the views of the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Jewish Labor Committee, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and United Synagogue of America, among Jewish organizations.
Other organizations supporting the proposal included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Catholic Interracial Council, the Congregational Christian Churches. The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Council of Protestant Episcopal Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
COUNCIL FOR JUDAISM DENOUNCED
An attack against Israel by a spokesman for the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism today drew fire from platform committee members.
Rep. Emanuel Celler, Brooklyn Democrat, took sharp exception to the Council for Judaism testimony which was answered for the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee by I. L. Kenen, who told the platform members that since the Council for Judaism claimed to speak in the name of Judaism, he wanted the committee members to know that the anti-Zionist group had been repeatedly denounced by Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbinical organizations.
Mr. Kenen said he deplored the “propaganda” of the anti-Zionist group which he said “recklessly defames American friendship for Israel as a surrender to alleged minority pressures.” He rejected as a “contemptible insult” to American leaders “the insinuation that support for Israel has been a mere pandering to a non-existent bloc vote at the expense of the national interest. Such misleading and dishonest doctrine defeats American interests because it fortifies resistance to peace.”
Mr. Kenen urged the platform committee to include in the party’s national platform planks advocating a new United States initiative for direct Israel-Arab peace talks, continued economic aid to both Arabs and Israel and guarantees to preserve the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.