NEW YORK (Apr. 4)
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations asked President Nixon today to get a public apology from Attorney General William Saxbe, or his resignation, for his comment that “Jewish intellectuals” during the McCarthy era were “very enamored of the Communist Party.” Saxbe made that comment in Washington yesterday in announcing he had ordered a new study of the Justice Department’s role in dealing with subversive activities.
The request to Nixon was made in a telegram from the president of the Reform organization. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, who declared “we are outraged by the incredible statement attributed to Attorney General Saxbe regarding Jewish intellectuals. Such reckless generalizations feed prejudice and division.” Rabbi Schindler added “I urge you to use your influence to see that this insulting statement be repudiated. Mr. Saxbe should either publicly retract this gratuitous and harmful comment or he should be asked to resign his office.”
(In Washington a White House spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was not aware of Rabbi Schindler’s telegram. At the Justice Department the JTA was-told that “the whole thing is being given top priority by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the public relations division, which is trying its darndest to put the whole thing into context.” The spokesman added that a formal statement is expected to be issued soon. He noted that Saxbe’s remark “just came out. It was not premeditated.”)
Saxbe said he had ordered an investigation of the controversial Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations and related internal security laws to determine whether such a list should be maintained and whether the present list was “realistic.” He said such a review was necessary because a “new breed” of terrorist groups had replaced the McCarthy-era “Communist-based” organizations as potential threats to United States security. He said that the “world-wide trends are more towards terrorism.” involving “a different type of person.”
SAXBE DENOUNCED BY ADL, JLC
Saxbe raised the matter of Jewish intellectuals in saying that “there was a great distrust of the intellectual” during the McCarthy era and that “one of the changes that’s come about is because of the Jewish intellectual, who in those days was very enamored of the Communist pasty,” an apparent indication Saxbe felt the alleged Jewish intellectual support no longer existed.
Saxbe was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee for that comment. Benjamin R. Epstein, ADL director, said it was “incredible” that the Attorney General “should make such an unfounded blanket charge accusing ‘the Jewish intellectual’ as a group of having been enamored of the Communist Party. Epstein said Saxbe’s comment “confirms the ADL’s newest findings about the insensitivity of otherwise responsible Americans to the harmful impact of false anti-Jewish stereotyping.”
Jacob Sheinkman, president of the Jewish Labor Committee, said that “the fitness of a man to hold high public office who engages in such insidious stereotypes must be seriously questioned. Saxbe’s aspersions on the loyalty of American Jews is incompatible with his responsibilities as head of the Department of Justice.”