NEW YORK (Jan. 1)
The leaders of nine major national Jewish organization today expressed satisfaction over the explanation offered by the United States Information Agency in reply to charges that the Agency had deleted from a television film on President Johnson a scene showing a rabbi out of fear that the film would meet with disfavor in the Middle East.
Replying to a letter on the matter written to each one of the organizations by Donald M. Wilson, acting director of the USIA, the groups’ leaders said that they were “impressed” by the evidence in the letter that the USIA “has faithfully reflected the American nation with its ethnic and religious segments to peoples in all parts of the world.”
Ascribing the original allegation to “a misunderstanding” between the agency’s television officials and television writers Rod Serling and Bill Froug, Mr. Wilson explained in identical letters to the nine organizations that, although a reference was made to placement problems in the Middle East in connection with a suggestion of possible inclusion of footage of a rabbi,” the matter “quickly became academic when Rod Serling himself changed the concept of the program–entirely for artistic reasons.”
Noting that it was the policy of the USIA to treat fairly with all ethnic and religious segments of the American society, Mr. Wilson said that “nonetheless, to the extent there has been any misinterpretation of this clear Agency policy by our officials and to guard against any future misunderstanding, I have reaffirmed our policy to all department heads.”
The joint reply by the organizations, which was transmitted to Mr. Wilson by Lewis H. Weinstein, chairman of the National Community Relations Advisory Council, and Rabbi Uri Miller, president of the Synagogue Council of America, was signed by the heads of the following organizations: American Jewish Congress, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Rabbinical Assembly of America, Rabbinical Council of America, Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the United Synagogue of America.