NEW YORK (Jul. 29)
Twelve American Jewish Congress officials who picketed the Jordanian Pavilion at the World’s Fair on May 25 were found not guilty today of disorderly conduct charges by Judge Bernard Dubin in Queens County Criminal Court.
In his ruling, Judge Dubin held that the World’s Fair was “quasi-public property” and was therefore not exempted from the requirements of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantee free speech.
Howard M. Squadron, a Congress vice-president, said: “Many of the officers of the American Jewish Congress are currently abroad attending meetings of international Jewish organizations. On their return in the early fall, we will meet to consider what further steps our organization will take — including the possibility of further picketing — to express our objections to the malicious and insulting mural at the Jordanian Pavilion.”
“It is within the power of Robert Moses, World’s Fair president, to see to it that this mural is removed. Now that the court has spoken and the right to protest the Jordanian libel has been upheld, we hope that Mr. Moses will exercise his power to remove this blight from a fair that seeks to promote the theme ‘Peace Through Understanding.'”
JUDGE REBUKES WORLD’S FAIR AUTHORITIES FOR NOT REMOVING MURAL
In his ten-page decision, Judge Dubin rebuked Fair authorities for their failure to remove the mural. “It is my opinion that the World’s Fair authorities might have made some effort, whether legally bound or not, to have the offensive mural removed. They objected to one defendant exhibiting an innocuous placard, yet a mural is allowed to remain which many people feel creates hatred and bigotry against a foreign nation and a race and people. The reasoning seems to be inconsistent.”
Judge Dubin also cited “the background and participation in community service” of the 12 leaders, which he said made it “evident that none of them had an intent to provoke a breach of the peace.” He noted there was “no use of offensive, disorderly, threatening, abusive or insulting language on the part of any of the defendants. There was no proof that their actions annoyed, disturbed or interfered with or obstructed or was offensive to any passerby.”