NEW YORK (Jun. 22)
Mrs. Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, chided Jewish organizations last night for their alleged failure to bring to the attention of their constituents the fact that they had used statistical studies similar to the controversial census of city employes, to uncover discrimination against Jews. Addressing the annual dinner of the American Jewish Committee’s Travel Division, Mrs. Norton contended that had these studies been more widely publicized, the fears of many Jews that the city census would lead to reverse discrimination and other abuses, might have been allayed.
“Indeed, if there were doubts that government would be as responsible as the Jewish organizations in conducting such a study, then surely it became a positive duty of the Jewish organizations to come forward to offer their considerable expertise to government. None did. This, I submit, was quite simply a failure of leadership,” Mrs. Norton said.
She did not name the organizations she was referring to. But she cited as an example of statistical studies undertaken to unearth discrimination against Jews, a 1968 study by the AJCommittee entitled “The Case of the Missing Executive” which utilized “the same process” as the city census to pinpoint executive suite discrimination against Jews.
Mrs. Norton said that Jews have in fact gone beyond their own private surveys to demand that government undertake surveys of Jews in the work force. “Here we face inconsistency straight in the face,” she said. “If statistical surveys by government can be part of ferreting out discrimination against Jews, surely they can be used to counter discrimination against Blacks, Puerto Ricans, women and others who also face bigotry in this country.”
Mrs. Norton described the city census as “a routine civil rights tool” which has been approved and employed in past years by the courts, the federal, state and city governments. Yet, she said, despite assurances that the statistics gleaned from the census, “would not and could not be used to impose quotas in the face of a strict civil service law, this issue has been used by a few to stir up fear.”
Mrs. Norton said, however, that most Jewish organizations and the Jewish press in the city responded favorably to her “Open Letter to the Jewish Community” explaining the philosophy and uses of the census. “There was, of course, no unanimity among Jews on the census and by far the great majority of the Jewish leadership who opposed the census did so responsibly,” Mrs. Norton said.