A.J.C. Condemns Soviet Anti-semitism; Sonnabend Elected President
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A.J.C. Condemns Soviet Anti-semitism; Sonnabend Elected President

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A resolution sharply condemning Soviet anti-Semitism, and calling upon the Government of the USSR to remove “all discriminatory policies” directed against Russia’s Jewish citizens, was adopted here today at the closing session of the American Jewish Committee’s 55th annual meeting.

The Committee also elected a number of new national officers, headed by A.M. Sonnabend, an industrialist and civic leader, of Boston and Palm Beach, as president. He succeeded Louis M. Caplan, of Pittsburgh, who was designated honorary president.

The resolution condemning the Soviet Union’s anti-Semitism was adopted at a special session under the chairmanship of Ralph Friedman, chairman of the organization’s foreign affairs committee, and addressed by a panel consisting of U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits; Patricia Blake, of Life Magazine; and Abraham Brumberg. Introduced by Mr. Friedman, and unanimously adopted, the resolution noted that the situation of Soviet Jews “continues to worsen” and drew particular attention to the “recent introduction of capital punishment for economic offenses” in the Soviet Union.

“This Soviet legislation,” the resolution declared, “is being applied with particular severity to Jews, as is clearly demonstrated by their high ratio–in excess of two-thirds-among the death sentences reported in the Soviet newspapers.”


Soviet discriminations against Jews were touched upon in a major address before the AJC, last night, when the principal speaker was Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Referring to the fact that the United States does not take refuge in secrecy regarding racial and religious prejudices, of which, he said, “the vast majority of the American people are aware and are anxious” to deal with, the Attorney General noted: “How different from the Soviet Union, where attacks on religious and racial minorities are hidden from public view.”

That subject, however, was explored fully in today’s discussion and resolution at the special session of the four-day meeting. Today, the Committee pointed out that, “in recent years, new regression has set in” in Soviet policy toward Jews, and that discrimination is apparent in many areas “notably employment, university admission and the higher levels of public service.”

Three main areas where the “regression” is particularly strong were cited by the resolution: “1. Religious observance is harassed in increasing measure; 2. Educational and cultural self expression is thwarted; 3. Legal standards recognized by civilized countries, are set aside.”

The resolution asserted that in the Soviets’ anti-religious campaigns, “Jews are singled out for special attacks the Jewish group is refused the minimal rights granted to other faiths” and Jewish congregations “must function in utter isolation.”

Senator Javits urged the United States Government to press through the United Nations for an investigation of the Soviet Union’s official policy of severe discrimination against its Jewish citizens. He said that, because of the “consistent and reliable reports” of Soviet repression of Jews, “the world is entitled to an accounting from the USSR which should be clear and unequivocal.”


A special AJC study made public at the meeting revealed that more state civil rights laws were enacted in the United States during 1961 than in any similar period in this country’s history. However, the same period saw the emergence of difficult school desegregation issues in a number of large northern cities.

The survey, which covered the period from October 1, 1960, to September 30, 1961, reported that more than 40 civil rights laws were enacted by state legislatures in every part of the country except the South.

At another session, Ignacio Winizky, Professor of Law at the University of Buenos Aires, and vice-president of the Argentina Jewish Institute of Culture and Information, warned that Argentina’s recent political upheaval has jeopardized the democratic institutions of that country. Of the recent upsurge of anti-Semitism in Argentina, he expressed confidence that when the political situation stabilizes, Argentina will return to a climate which offers greater security to its Jewish population.

Peter Schwabe, a business executive of Rio de Janeiro, and vice-president of the Brazilian Institute of Culture and Information, stressed the tremendous potentialities of his country for economic development. He said that the participation of the Jewish community in this growth will be of great importance both to itself and to the country as a whole.

Emphasizing that there is almost no discrimination in Brazil, Mr. Schwabe pointed out that the country has welcomed immigration from many parts of the world. The lack of prejudice, he said, also enables the immigrants to become quickly integrated into the rich cultural and social life of the country.


Mr. Sonnabend, the twelfth president of the American Jewish Committee, is a native of Boston and an alumnus of Harvard. For the past four years, he has been the American

Morris B. Abram, of Atlanta, as chairman of the executive board–he was recently appointed by President Kennedy as the United States member of the United Nations Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities; Ralph Friedman, chairman of the administrative board; Orin Lehman, secretary; Living L. Goldberg, Julius S. Lowenthal, Richard Maass, Earl Morse and Norman S. Rabb, national vice-presidents.

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