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Commerce Department Assailed for Authorizing Funds Fostering Anti-semitic Bigotry

Nine Jewish organizations have charged the United States Department of Commerce with authorizing federal expenditures that would “foster attendance at a manifestation of anti-Semitic bigotry.” At issue are funds for improvement of a road giving access to the site of a “Passion Play” and other “tourist attractions” offered by the Elna M. Smith Foundation in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The Passion Play “is a vicious anti-Semitic tract,” the protesting Jewish organizations assert. Elna Smith is the wife of Gerald L.K. Smith, long-time anti-Semitic publicist and propagandist. His “unmistakable stamp of bigotry” is on the Eureka Springs project, the Jewish organizations declare.

In a letter written by Jordan C. Band, chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, coordinating body of nine national organizations and 82 local Jewish councils in cities throughout the United States, the organizations “urgently” asked Secretary of Commerce Maurice H. Stans to reverse the authorization. They note that use of federal funds to improve the road to the site is justified by the Commerce Department on the ground that facilitating access to the Passion Play and other “attractions” will improve the economically depressed condition of the Eureka Springs area, but that no justification is given for the use of tax-raised moneys “to facilitate the spreading of the virus of anti-Semitism.”

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