NEW YORK (May. 21)
American business, when confronted with evidence of anti-Jewish discrimination in its ranks, is visibly taking steps to rid itself of such practices, Morris B. Abram. president of the American Jewish Committee, reported at the annual meeting of the organization which closed here today after four days of deliberation.
“We seem to be heading into a new era in this work,” Mr. Abram said. “Up to this point the thrust has been largely to prove to American business, whether or not it has been aware of it, that discrimination has been far too common. Now we are in the heartening position of finding American business saying to us, in effect, yes, we have been wrong, and we want you to show us how we can change.”
Mr. Abram, who is a member of the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity, explained first that the American Bankers Association, trade association for the nation’s 15,000 commercial banks, earlier this month had renewed a pledge to promote equal employment and promotion opportunities within the banking system. He also pointed out that, in conversations with Dr. Charles E, Walker, executive vice-president of the American Bankers Association, he had learned that the organization was already engaged in a comprehensive program to carry out the principles implied in its pledge. Among these steps are the following:
1. Branches of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations on 250 college campuses throughout the country are being urged by ABA officials to encourage Jewish students to take advantage of opportunities in banking. Each chapter of Hillel, the major organization with a cultural and religious program for Jewish college students, has received copies of a new ABA career brochure on banking.
2. “Banking,” official monthly publication of the ABA, is planning a series of articles on non-discrimination, including one devoted to the executive suite problem.
3. The annual convention of the ABA, to be held September 24-27, 1967, in New York City, will include a session Tuesday, September 26, on “Equal Opportunity.” About 1,500 banking executives are expected to attend.
4. Placement offices of graduate schools of business, which are the main recruiting ground for executive banking personnel, are being contacted so that students can be alerted to the banking industry’s current wide search for trained and talented young people without concern for ethnic background.
5. The curriculum of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, conducted by the ABA at Rutgers University, will include the subject of discrimination and minority employment problems in its curriculum.
6. The ABA is currently preparing information for its own bank members outlining the expectations of the U.S. Government on just how banks must act to conform with Federal regulations that they refrain from discriminating against employes or applicants because of race, color, creed, or national origin. Under regulations that took effect last November 30, approximately 95 percent of the nation’s commercial banks are considered Government contractors since they handle Federal funds.
Mr. Abram pointed out that the new program of the American Bankers Association followed the release of a report by the American Jewish Committee on executive suite employment practices of the nation’s 50 largest commercial banks, and subsequent meetings both with individual banks throughout the country and with leaders of the American Bankers Association.
Mr. Abram also reported that the top managements of New York City’s mutual savings banks, which were revealed by the AJC’s New York Chapter in October 1965 as engaging in “de facto discrimination” against Jews, had increased the number of their Jewish executive trustees by more than one-third. “It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of this program of the nation’s banking community,” he stated. “For the banks, controlling as they do the nation’s economic lifelines, are not only one of the most powerful centers of decision-making, they are among our major style-setters for corporations.
In addition to the industry-wide action of the two banking groups, Mr. Abram revealed some preliminary results of a year-long study, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, on the hiring and upgrading practices of three individual large manufacturing concerns in the Cleveland Akron area.
REMOVAL OF ANTI-JEWISH REFERENCES FROM CATHOLIC TEXTBOOKS REPORTED
Philip E. Hoffman, who was elected chairman of the AJC executive committee at the annual meeting, reported that a movement is now going on in many parts of the world to remove hostile
1. The most striking progress has been made in Spain, where more than half of all Catholic religious textbooks that previously had expressed marked hostility to Jews and Judaism have been revised or eliminated.
2. While progress is less advanced in Italy, the conference of bishops has established a commission to deal with the revision of textbooks. Revision of elementary and secondary texts is in progress.
3. Intensive studies of French-language Catholic textbooks, widely used in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada, have been virtually completed at Louvain University, Belgium, under the sponsorship of Leo Cardinal Suenens.
4. An investigation of Austrian books has been started by an interfaith commission headed by a Catholic scholar at the University of Vienna, under the patronage of Franz Cardinal Koenig.
5. Other studies are under way in West Germany, Portugal, and England, and in at least one East European country: Poland.
6. Catholic educational centers on the European Continent are distributing revised textbooks to predominantly Catholic countries in other parts of the world, notably Latin America. Beyond this. Catholic authorities in several Latin American countries have conducted textbook studies leading to significant revision.
7. In the United States, a number of new textbooks have been published for Catholic children in elementary and secondary parochial schools, and a similar effort is being made to remove distortions and polemical antagonisms in Protestant texts.