NEW YORK (Jul. 20)
The American Jewish Congress today charged that a “gross libel” had been perpetrated when a black militant student told delegates to the United Nations World Youth Assembly, on a tour of Harlem last Thursday, that “Jews, predominantly” were the exploiting landlords of slum buildings. In a letter to Neville Wade, the British youth delegate who asked about the ownership of the buildings he saw, the AJ Congress said the answer that slum housing was owned predominantly by Jews “is entirely unwarranted.” The letter, signed by Theodore J. Kolish, chairman of the executive board of Congress’ New York Metropolitan Council, stated that “Undoubtedly, some of the alum property in New York is owned by Jews, Just as some is owned by members of the many other groups that make up the population of New York. It is plain, however, that the statement that slum housing is owned predominantly by Jews is entirely unwarranted.”
Continuing, Mr. Kolish stated: “I want you to know also that the organized Jewish community of New York has been among the leaders in the fight to correct the intolerable conditions in the City’s ghettos.” Asserting that he was writing only to correct “the gross libel” which was conveyed to members of the Assembly on their Harlem tour, Mr. Kolish declared: “It was entirely appropriate for you to see Harlem in its unrelieved horror. You would hardly have had a true picture of our city or of our country if our grave shortcomings were not revealed together with our assets. But it is irresponsible and outrageous to suggest that those shortcomings are the work of the Jewish community or of any other small minority of the population.” The World Youth Assembly ended Friday night. Mr. Kolish’s letter to Mr. Wade was delivered before the Assembly’s closing session. Copies of this letter were distributed to the other delegates.