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Senate Will Either Filibuster to Death or Vote Down Genocide Convention

The Senate, engaged for the first time ever in debate on the international treaty against genocide, is more than likely to either filibuster it to death or vote it down. Mail against the treaty is running about 200-1. Although literally hundreds of American organizations have endorsed it during the 25 years since the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted it in Paris in Dec. 1948, hardly any organization is now encouraging those Senators now backing it. The opposition, however, has not been lackadaisical. The ultra right-wing Liberty Lobby is campaigning hard for its defeat, urging letters to editors, calls to radio talk shows and contacts with Senators to vote against the “convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.”

Opening the debate for the treaty’s proponents, Sen. William Proxmire (D.Wis.) told of letters “from my constituents and other people from all over the country vehemently protesting this treaty.” While “many Senators” have been “swamped in the past few days” from opponents “very few letters have come in on the other side,” he said. Proxmire, who has not failed on any Senate business day in seven years to register his approval of the treaty by word or letter, said he was impressed on how far the opposition mail had departed from the treaty’s real meaning.

“The real argument for the genocide treaty” Proxmire declared, “was put by a little teenage Jewish girl. She was a victim of Hitler’s genocide. She was one of six million Jews deliberately destroyed in the Nazis’ planned extermination of European Jews during World War II. Genocide is the planned, premeditated extermination of an entire people or race. The treaty we debate today would make such an action an international crime. Anyone who has any real doubt whether he should vote yea or nay should listen not only to the voices of Senators and constitutional authorities but also to the voice of murdered Anne Frank, that child of joy amid the terror, the hatred and death from Nazi persecution. Across the 29 years since Anne Frank died in the Nazi concentration camp at Belsen, that voice rings out–calling on us to dedicate this country to the end of the terrible crime of genocide.”

Paradoxically, the opposition’s chief spokesman is Sen. Sam J. Ervin (D.N.C.) who has been hailed by liberals as “uncle Sam” for his steadfastness to constitutionalism in his chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee examining the Watergate affair. The Liberty Lobby’s chairman is Curtis B. Dall, once the son-in-law of the great liberal President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Paradoxically, too, the U.S. government itself proposed, fought for and succeeded in winning the treaty’s adoption by the UN. Every President from Truman to Nixon has supported it. Yet it was a quarter of a century before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally approved it last March 10 for the first time. Now the debate has begun and promises to be long drawn out. “My guess is that there will be lengthy speeches,” a spokesman for an opposing Senator told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He was certain that if the filibuster did not work there would be more than enough Senators on hand to block the 2/3 vote required from among the Senators present and voting to enact the treaty.

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