Menu JTA Search

U. N. Gets American Jewish Committee Plan of Action Against Anti-semitism

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The American Jewish Committee today submitted a number of recommendations to the United Nations suggesting effective actions to counter worldwide racial and religious prejudice. The recommendations were included in a report submitted by the central Jewish body to the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities which opened its two-week session here this morning.

The American Jewish Committee report has also been submitted to the State Department and to the American delegation to the United Nations, with a view to aiding the U.S. Government in cooperating with the United Nations inquiry into anti-Semitism and similar forms of racial and religious hostility, which was initiated following the swastika-smearing incidents last year.

The report traces the chain reaction of anti-Semitic outbursts which began with the swastika-smearing of a synagogue on Christmas Eve, 1959, in Cologne, West Germany, It lists the most active neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups operating in Europe, Latin America and the United States whose propaganda probably had a hand in spreading the epidemic of vandalism, and it deals with the suppression of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union, It then makes the following recommendations:

1. The UN Subcommission should undertake a thorough survey of neo-Nazi and anti Semitic organizations throughout the world, including specific information about the nature of each group, its membership, ideology, literature and activities, and an assessment of its influence. Particular emphasis should be given to the use of anti-Semitism for political ends.

2. The Subcommission should explore how the home, school and church, which are in a key position to influence the flexible minds of the young, are fostering wholesome, outgoing and unprejudiced attitudes essential to the individual’s mental health, as well as to the well-being of the community. The influence of private citizens through their voluntary organizations might also be examined.

3. There are major problems directly connected with outbreaks of bigotry that need further exploration. More needs to be learned about the social and psychological factors, including cultural conflicts, that result in hostile action against particular groups. The correlation between anti-Semitic attitudes and hostile attitudes toward other groups– racial, religious, ethnic–needs further exploration; likewise the correlation between group prejudices and hostile attitudes toward democratic ideas, movements and institutions generally, including the UN itself.

4. The Subcommission should issue a report on measures and programs currently conducted by governments of UN member states for the purpose of eradicating anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice. This report could analyze the aspects of prejudice as well as education measures taken to counteract it.

ANALYZES ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE U.S.; STRESSES SOCIAL BIAS

The American Jewish Committee report also deals with anti-Semitism in the United States, It points out that “in contrast to continental Europe, the United States has never engaged in the political or ideological forms of anti-Semitism. However, Jews in America do encounter various forms of social discrimination which manifests itself in various exclusionary practices.”

These practices, the report says, are due mainly to competition for status and prestige, yet it is by no means harmless. In fact, the report states, “it is central to the problem of anti-Semitism which goes far beyond personal affronts and embarrassment. It implies the inferiority and undesirability of an entire group. In practical effect, these barred from approved social circles because of bigotry are often not considered eligible–regardless of their personal qualifications and attainments–for certain types of employment…”

The report stated that “the divisive impact of certain Christian textbooks and lesson materials, including the treatment of the Crucifixion story is widely acknowledged by high authorities of Protestant and Catholic churches in the United States. ” In recognition of this factor a series of self-examination of the texts used in religious education have been undertaken-by Protestant and Catholic schools–with the cooperation of the American.” Jewish Committee–with a view to eliminating inaccurate and prejudicial material, ” the report told the UN Subcommittee.

The recently completed seven-year Yale Divinity School research project of Protestant materials will shortly be published by the Yale University Press. It indicates that prejudice is not inherent in the core of religious doctrine, but “stems from cultural and historic” accretions which have been “superimposed on theological concepts,” the AJC report emphasized. Comparable studies of Catholic parochial school materials are now being conducted at St. Louis University, a leading Jesuit Institution in America.

These studies are of great importance since the present-day neo-Nazi propaganda “seeks to conceal its amoral racist materialism” behind a desire to defend “Christian civilization,” the report stresses.

NEXT STORY