American Jewish Committee Opens Session; Reports on Anti-semitism
Menu JTA Search

American Jewish Committee Opens Session; Reports on Anti-semitism

Download PDF for this date

The American Jewish Committee today opened its four-day 56th annual meeting here with a report on anti-Semitism abroad based on a year-long survey conducted in 11 European and South American countries. The report, presented by A.M. Sonnabend, president of the organization, established the following facts:

1. The Soviet Government still continues its official anti-Jewish policies. Though the Moscow government denies it, the so-called “economic trials” taking place in the Soviet Union are undoubtedly an attack on what remains of the Jewish community structure. Nearly 60 percent of the executed to date, as a result of these trials, have been Jews. In addition, Jewish religion and culture are being harshly restricted in what seems to be an attempt to cut off Jews from their historic roots.

2. There are more than 500 neo-Nazi, Fascist and anti-Semitic groups in the various countries surveyed. However, only a comparatively small number pose any major threat. There is no evidence of a neo-Nazi nor anti-Semitic network and no formal cooperation among these groups. However, their publications promote one another and there is evidence of unified propaganda campaigns.

3. Anti-Semitic movements are aiming their propaganda particularly at youth and youth groups in some countries. Anti-Semitism is being used as a political weapon in countries which are in the midst of political turmoil or instability. This is especially true in South America.


The survey which was conducted by the Committee’s offices in Paris, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro and representatives in other major cities also found the following conditions–especially in Western Europe–which are countering the growth and spread of anti-Semitism abroad:

1. Attitude towards Jews in Western Europe are undergoing a profound change. The people of those nations feel a sense of shame over the fate of the 6, 000, 000 Jews murdered during the Hitler era.

2. A “quiet revolution” is developing among Christians; “some churches recognizing that their own teaching materials have all too often served to perpetuate anti-Jewish prejudice, have now undertaken to re-examine their own practices and positions.”

Mr. Sonnabend stressed that although the “scattered anti-Semitic movements lack central planning and direction and attempts to unify these groups have apparently failed,” there is cooperation, “particularly for propaganda purposes.”

The AJC president stressed the neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist groups are continuously attempting “to take advantage of unsettled political conditions and to infiltrate organizations of disaffected citizens.” He cited the foothold gained by anti Semites in the Algerian Secret Army Organization and the widespread campaigns of armed violence against Jews in the wake of political instability in Argentina.

He suggested a three-point program to combat and neutralize anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups abroad:

1. Continued surveillance and study a careful day to day watch–over the activities of anti-Semitic groups everywhere.

2. These groups should be denied the publicity they crave. Lacking cohesion and numerical strength, such movements can only survive by keeping their names before the public. These quarantine methods have worked in the United States and would undoubtedly operate well on an international level.

3. Long range programs of education, concerning Jews and Judaism.

With regard to the Soviet Union, Mr. Sonnabend said that “anti-Semitic measures there are officially sanctioned.” In spite of the fact that Soviet spokesmen keep reiterating their country’s constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, the Soviet Government continues to “abridge the religious and cultural rights of Jews and restrain Jewish community life–even prohibiting the baking of matzoth for Passover,” he stressed.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund