CINCINNATI (Jun. 24)
In a series of resolutions on the international scene, the plenary session of the National Community Relations Advisory Council want on record today in condemnation of the discrimination against Jews in Soviet Russia in a demand for action by the United States to halt Arab discrimination against American citizens, in a plea to the Kennedy Administration to press for Arab-Israel peace and in a call for support of the United Nations as an agency for peace.
The Soviet resolution expressed “deep concern and anguish upon the plight of our fellow Jews within the Soviet Union” and condemned “the discriminatory repressive treatment accorded by the Soviet Government to its Jewish citizens.” The resolution described the methods of discrimination employed against Soviet Jews and charged that they were being singled out for prosecution for “economic crimes.” Death penalties for these crimes, it charged, were being imposed on Jews “in a greater ration than upon others charged with similar offences.”
The conference adopted two resolutions on the Middle East. One dealing with Arab discrimination against American Jews asked Congress to enact a provision in the pending foreign aid bill requiring the President to report annually on progress made in eliminating such discriminations.
The resolution proposed a four-point program to “preserve the integrity of American citizenship” by continuously challenging through diplomatic channels, flagrant violations of the rights of American citizens; by ending the screening of citizens for Government service abroad on racial or religious grounds; by rejecting provisions in all treaties and executive agreements denying to American citizens rights of employment, travel or trade because of race or religion and by calling on federal and state anti-bias agencies not to yield to the religious or racial prejudice of Arab countries in the hiring and placement of Americans.
In its resolution on the Middle East situation, the conference warned that “each provocation by an Arab state dims the prospect for peace in the Middle East.” It asserted that the continued undeclared Arab warfare against Israel “not only endangers the stability of the Middle East, but constitutes a critical threat to world peace.”
The resolution noted President Kennedy’s affirmation two years ago of the need for seeking permanent settlement in the Middle East, but pointed out that “recent actions by United States representatives in the United Nations have not only emboldened Arab aggressors, but have been inconsistent with the President’s pronouncement. The United States, as the leader of the free world should be in the vanguard of world opinion in pressing for an Arab-Israel peace. Our country must stand up against belligerency, provocation, hostility and threat.”
The resolution urged the United States Government to “pursue a policy both within and without the United Nations, which rejects all forms of aggression and which will make it clear to all governments in the Middle East, that we do not condone war and that peace is the major goal of American policy in the region.”
DELEGATES REJECT ‘SHARED TIME’ PLAN FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The so-called “shared time” plan under which pupils in parochial schools would be permitted to use public school facilities, was overwhelmingly rejected today by the plenary session after the plan had been termed a “tragic betrayal of our public schools.”
The plan had been offered as a compromise that would permit federal aid to parochial schools without infringement of the principle of separation of church and state. Proponents of the plan had also argued that the scheme would also help break down barriers between pupils in the public schools and the parochial schools by bringing them together in some classroom sessions in the public schools.
The 250 delegates and guests attending the session of the national agency had been urged by Dr. David G, Salten, noted educator, to give careful consideration to the plan on the grounds that “any plan which minimizes the tendency toward social stratification
and promises some reduction in inter-religious conflict, deserves the most painstaking consideration.”
The NCRAC action followed a long discussion in which delegates from Hartford, Connecticut; and Kansas City described the unsatisfactory operation of the “shared time” plan there. Although the plan has been discussed extensively in Jewish, Protestant and Catholic circles over the last year or more, the action here today is the first rejection of the proposal on a national level.
LEADER EXPLAINS N.C.R.A.C.’S OPPOSITION TO ‘SHARED TIME’
Lewis H, Weinstein, NCRAC chairman, explained the agency’s positions. “While shared time may not violate the constitutional separation between church and state, it would impair and in the end violate our American public school system, “he said. He expressed doubt that the proposal would resolve the controversy over government aid to parochial schools.
“There is no reason to expect that those who have been demanding inclusion of parochial schools in a federal aid program would withdraw their demand just because a few communities adopt the new plan,” he asserted. “It is likely that the demands would continue and the net result would be an increased financial burden on the public school system rather than amelioration of its critical needs.”
Mr. Weinstein further charged that the shared time in practice would lead to the greatest divisiveness. He said the new plan would be “a tragic betrayal of our public schools. ” These are the institutions on which we have relied for generations for the preparation, of our young people for citizenship, for effective participation in our society,” he declared. “This is an obligation of our democracy. We cannot abandon it to a variety of religious bodies, a variety of value systems unless we are prepared to abandon our convictions about the values that as Americans we hold in common.”
BEN-GURION’S GLOOMY VIEW OF FUTURE OF U. S. JEWRY IS REJECTED
A ringing affirmation of faith in the future of American Jewry was offered here by two American Jewish leaders in replies before the plenary session to utterances of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. “American Jewish life has never been more visible, more viable and more vibrant than it is today,” Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, told the delegates. “This is our best answer to those prophets of doom such as the Prime Minister of Israel and others who negate the American Jewish future.”
“These negators of the Diaspora misread both American democracy and the American Jew,” he said. “While the people of the State of Israel and American Jewry are india-solubly linked as an historic people, recent highly publicized misunderstandings demonstrate that we have a long way to go in building the kind of reciprocal cultural religious and spiritual bridge which is essential to our mutual survival.”
Irving Kane, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, similarly rejected the “defeatist view” of the American Jewish future and the assumption of “some observers” that American Jewry was “doomed to a sterile assimilation.”
“The hard fact, ” said Mr. Kane, “is that on this continent we have reached the stage of ‘do-it-yourself.’ Even if the European centers of learning and culture still flourished, it was perhaps inevitable that the substance and forms which would give fullest meaning to it to the needs of American Jews living in the American environment would have to be developed here.”
“Israel, to be sure, can and will deepen the content of our lives, our communal purpose, but American Jewry cannot live culturally and spiritually as a parasite on a body 6,000 miles away,” he said. “The goals and values of Jewish life remain fairly constant: To live creatively as Jews, to fulfill our obligations to our fellow Jews here and in Israel and in other lands and to our fellow-men everywhere, to make our maximum contribution to American democracy, to maintain our religious and cultural integrity. In short, to keep faith with the American idea, to be true to the faith of our fathers and to live by the ethical standards of our faith. In this we have done pretty well as a whole.”
Both speakers participated with Professor Horace Kallen in a symposium on Jewish Life in the Free Plural Society–Achieving a Balance between Integration as Distinctive Separateness. Dr. Kallen, research professor in Social Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York, discussed the implications of “pluralism” in America, a term it is said he coined 50 years ago in his writings on the nature of America.
LEWIS H. WEINSTEIN RE-ELECTED N.C.R.A.C. CHAIRMAN FOR NEXT TERM
Lewis H. Weinstein of Boston, was re-elected chairman of the NCRAC, Vice chairmen elected were Louis Feinmark of New Haven, Julian Freeman of Indianapolis, Marcus Ginsburg of Fort Worth, Texas, Aaron Goldman of Washington and Herbert A, Leland of San Francisco. Joseph X. Yaffe of Philadelphia was elected treasurer; and William B. Schwartz, Jr. of Atlanta, secretary; Isaiah M, Minkoff, executive director.