NEW YORK (Dec. 6)
Jewish community relations experts have reported that–despite widespread fears among American Jews of an anti-Semitic backlash stemming from the energy crunch–there has been no evidence to date of any significant anti-Semitic reaction in the United States stemming from the energy crisis.
There was also agreement among spokesmen for four national community relations agencies that scattered incidents, suggesting such a development, required attention and they reported that their agencies were keeping a close watch. These incidents have included anti-Jewish bumper stickers and hostile editorials and letters to newspaper editors. The theme of the bumper stickers, originally reported as having been seen in some Midwest areas a few weeks ago and more recently in New York, is: “We Don’t Need Jews But We Do Need Oil.”
The agencies asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for reports on the problem were the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee.
Benjamin Epstein, ADL director, said of the possibility of a backlash that “it has not yet taken place in any form that we have been able to identify. We have found sporadic examples reflected in some newspaper editorials, bumper stickers and reports in the professional anti-Semitic press.” He added that Jews were “justifiably apprehensive due to the elements of the situation” and that Jews “want to be ready” for any problems that might develop.
The ADL recently announced plans for an educational campaign on the energy crisis aimed at the general public, to be conducted through its national and regional offices. Epstein said a first step had been publication of a pamphlet: “Oil and United States Mideast Policy,” which he said had been sent to leaders in government, business and other areas. He said an initial two printings of 25,000 copies had been “gobbled up” and a third printing was being made.
APPREHENSION GREATER THAN REALITY
The spokesman for the American Jewish Committee said that “at this point,” there did not seem to be any significant problem. He indicated a belief that the apprehension among Jews was greater than the reality which, he said, was “at the moment, far from crisis proportions.” He agreed the problem was one which should cause concern and that the Committee was watching it closely.
He added that the agency was receiving reports regularly about the bumper stickers, and observed that Americans putting such stickers on their cars or writing hostile letters to their newspapers should not be dismissed automatically as members of the lunatic fringe.
The spokesman for the NJCRAC said “we have no evidence whatever of any anti-Semitic reaction arising as a result of the energy crisis” He said this was a summary of information from many of the 95 local Jewish community relations councils affiliated with the NJCRAC. He added, however, that the evaluation excluded “the obviously crackpot and apparently organized lunatic fringe activities.”
Richard M. Conen, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, also affirmed. “There has been no sign of any anti-Semitic fallout from the oil shortage.” He said the Congress is “gratified by statements by public officials, newspaper editorials and media commentators which demonstrate as understanding that the energy crisis is not related basically to the Middle East problem.” Stating that the Congress was aware of the bumper stickers, Cohen said it could be anticipated that “the lunatic fringe could be expected to try to exploit the situation. We do not see any sign that they are succeeding. If the situation should worsen and any anti-Semitic and anti-Israel fallout develop, we will take whatever action may be necessary to combat it.”