LOS ANGELES (Jun. 28)
The Department of Health, Education and Welfare was urged today by two Jewish organization leaders to recast its anti-discrimination guidelines and repudiate its goal of “preferential treatment” for minority group members in federally-funded education and employment. That policy was proposed by Benjamin R. Epstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and Mrs. Naomi Levine, acting executive director of the American Jewish Congress. They spoke at the annual plenary of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council here.
The two leaders said that HEW, by allowing universities to establish preferential quotas in admissions and faculty hiring practices, was illegally sanctioning “discrimination in reverse.” They strongly supported, as panelists at an opening session, “affirmative action programs” to equalize opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.
A contrasting view for “preferential remedies for interim periods on a case-by-case basis” was presented by a third panelist, Albert D. Chernin, executive director of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Council. He argued that the possible burdens on the majority group “are the price society must pay to repair the harm” of past race discrimination. The 300 delegates represented the nine national organizations and 92 local community relations councils making up the NJCRAC’s constituents.
Epstein said that anti-bias regulations of the HEW do not call for preferential treatment or quotas but that HEW “guidelines are being implemented as if they did.” Mrs. Levine, concurring, said that HEW administration of anti-bias policies among colleges allocated federal funds have been “disastrous.” She said many “confused” university officials, seeking to avoid loss of “sorely-needed federal funds,” had established “fixed quotas in flagrant violation of constitutional and legal prohibitions.”
Epstein proposed “affirmative action” in the form of expansion of campus facilities to accommodate qualified minority applicants, even if that means using capital funds or curtailing “less essential activities.” Preferential treatment, he warned, “is a particularly serious concern for the Jewish community which is, despite new interpretations, still a vulnerable minority.”
The Jewish theater in Vilna is performing the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” with considerable success, Russian sources have reported in Copenhagen.