NEW YORK (Dec. 20)
The American Friends Service Committee was accused today of “deep-seated, unconscious anti-Jewish bias” In its report, “Search for Peace in the Middle East.” Judge Justine Wise Polier, chairman of the Committee on Israel of the American Jewish Congress, charged in an “Open Letter to the Friends” that the Quaker’ theme of peace had been “obscured and distorted by persistent notes of anti-Jewish prejudice.” The result, she said, has “created an awful gulf between those responsible for this document and Jews everywhere.” Judge Polier’s statement was published in the current issue of Congress bi-Weekly magazine, the official publication of the Congress. The AJ Congress leader sits on the bench of the New York Family Court. Because of the Friends’ long record of humanitarian service and claim of impartiality Judge Polier wrote, the report was “more disturbing than blatant attacks against Israel by those who have sworn to destroy it or by the position of openly anti-Semitic groups.”
The Friends report, which had been Widely circulated in a number of drafts and in pamphlet form for about a year, was recently published as a Fawcett paperback. The “working party” which prepared the report for the Friends was headed by Ian drum Bolling, who is president of Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. The report called on Israel to take the first step toward peace by pledging to withdraw from the occupied territories and to institute a program of major aid to the Palestinian refugees. Judge Polier wrote that the study, “under the guise of an appeal, threatens that if American Jews put too much pressure on government officials or behalf of Israel, it may endanger ‘interfaith harmony and brotherhood between American citizens.’…Do not the Friends realize that if this is the price demanded, they have reduced ‘interfaith harmony and brotherhood’ to a mockery, a snare and a delusion?” She observed that possibly the “most shocking evidence of a regression by Friends to historic bigotry against Jews is to be found in Its repeated references to Israel striking back on a ‘two eyes for an eye’ basis. One must ask why Friends should seek to give the impression that Israeli counter terror stemmed from a religious commitment to vengeance through a false quotation from the Old Testament.”
Judge Polier, who is a national vice president of the American Jewish Congress and a former president of its National Women’s Division, charged further that “the question of anti-Jewish prejudice on a conscious or unconscious level is again raised by the use of language and the text itself.” She declared: “Thus, despite efforts to appear impartial, the study repeatedly refers to terror and counter terror without acknowledging that, with less than a handful of exceptions, the terror has always been initiated by the Arabs.” The study, she continued, also singles out by name “the only tragic assault by a Jewish extremist group on an Arab village In April 1948 before there was a government of Israel. No bus massacre of Israeli children or bombing of civilian areas are mentioned by name. Even Arab terror that brought death to Israelis is minimized as ‘irritating border attacks.” Judge Poller urged the authors of the report “to re-examine their own hearts and conscience.