NEW YORK (Apr. 15)
The American Jewish Congress today concluded its four day biennial convention with the adoption of a number of resolutions dealing with problems concerning Jews in this country and abroad, as well as with American policy in the Middle East. Dr. Joachim Prinz was re-elected president of the organization for a third two-year term.
In a resolution on the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union, the convention expressed “deepest concern” at Soviet government action against Jews in the USSR and appealed for a lifting of prohibitions against the baking of matzoh and the enjoyment of “essential facilities for Jewish survival.” The resolution charged that Russian Jews “are denied the means to perpetuate their faith and develop their culture through the education of their children and youth.
“Russian Jews,” the resolution said, “are made to suffer deprivations and disadvantages not imposed upon other peoples and nationalities in the Soviet Union.” The AJ Congress statement deplored recent evidence of “direct and overt official anti-Semitism” and asked the U.S. Government, “in concert with other nations, to persuade the Soviet Union to remove restrictions that prevent the cultural and spiritual development of Soviet Jewry.”
The convention also adopted a resolution calling for a “fundamental reappraisal” of American policy in the Middle East. It urged President Kennedy to “redeem his pre-election pledge” to initiate direct peace talks between Israel and the Arab states and seek an end to the Arab economic boycott and blockade of Israel. The resolution also urged active American support of programs for regional cooperation in the development of water, power and other resources in the Middle East, and proposed a “permanent solution to the troubling and tragic problem of the Arab refugees” through their integration into the countries of the Middle East as part of a broad program of regional rehabilitation.
In another resolution the delegates opposed nuclear weapons for West Germany and warned of a “rising incidence of anti-Semitic publications and activities” there. The resolution urged the Adenauer regime to intensify efforts “to eliminate all taint of Nazi or neo-Nazi influence from public life. It cited recent public opinion polls in West Germany indicating that “two-thirds of the residents of West Berlin–typically the most liberal segment of Germany–object to the appointment of Jews to government positions.” The resolution emphasized that “anti-Semitism and rampant nationalism exist in even greater degree in East Germany.”
EXPRESSES ‘VIGOROUS OPPOSITION’ TO RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The convention expressed “vigorous opposition” to sectarian observances in the public schools such as Bible-reading, prayer recitation and religious holiday celebrations “including Christmas and Chanukah.” In other resolutions, the American Jewish Congress:
1. Opposed Federal aid for parochial schools as a “clear violation of the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state–a violation that would bring in its train all the evils that the Constitutional provision was designed to prevent.”
2. Charged that compulsory Sunday-closing laws were “discriminatory and unequal in their operation” and urged the repeal of existing “blue” laws “or at least the exemption from such laws of those persons who observe a day other than Sunday as their religious day of rest.”
The resolution on religion in the schools charged that sectarian practices “impair religious freedom, violate the principle of church-state separation and interfere with fulfillment by the schools of their educational function.” It also welcomed recent decisions “reaffirming the Constitutional guarantee of religious liberty and the separation principle.”
The convention was addressed during the weekend by Ambassador Michael Comay, head of the Israel delegation to the UN, and Senator Jacob K. Javits, New York Republican. Mr. Comay told the delegates that more Arab “mischief-making” is in store in the tense Middle East. The recent “one-sided” resolution in the UN Security Council, he warned, has given the Arab states reason to believe they enjoy “a kind of diplomatic immunity at the United Nations.”
Senator Javits asked whether President Kennedy had “turned his back” on his own program for Arab-Israel peace in the Middle East. He called on the Administration to fulfill its “promises” to initiate direct peace talks between Israel and the Arab states.