Menu JTA Search

The American Scene:

Download PDF for this date

The United States was in a severe economic crisis which President Reagan said could be solved only by massive budget cuts and economic reforms. The organized Jewish community found that the budget cuts were affecting some of their communal programs.

Concern was expressed in some Jewish quarters that the increasing influence of such conservative religious groups as the Moral Majority was posing a danger to the pluralistic nature of American society, while others welcomed this development because of the avowed pro-Israeli statements by some of these organizations.

In addition, a greater number of Jews expressed concern over the growth of neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan. There was an increasing number of anti-Semitic acts, including synagogue vandalism, daubings of synagogues and Jewish-owned buildings or buildings where there were Jewish organizations, and the proliferation of hate literature. The Jewish community was also active in pressuring the Justice Department to ferret out and prosecute Nazi war criminals living in this country.

September 1980–

Georgetown University accepts an endowment of $1 million from the government of Kuwait for its Georgetown Center for Contemporary Arab studies, raising the total contributions to the center by eight Arab governments to $3,305,000 since its founding in 1975.

Denaturalization hearings start in the case of Nazi War criminal Wolodymir Osidach who is alleged to have beaten, shot and killed unarmed Jewish civilians while serving as commandant of the Ukrainian police in Rawa Ruska between 1941-1945 and to have rounded up and transported Jews to extermination camps during the war.

Leading Baptist Ministers and educators in several states strongly deplore Dr. Bailey Smith, president of the 13-million member Southern Baptist Convention, for his public remark that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”


Thousands gather in Evanston, III. on the Northwestern University campus in a community-wide interfaith demonstration of solidarity with traditional American values to counter a rally staged by American Nazis just three miles away at Lovelace Park.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, head of the Moral Majority, disavows his statement that only those redeemed by Jesus Christ could have their prayers answered.


The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith expresses deep concern over the results of two congressional races — in California and Michigan– in which avowedly racist and anti-Semitic candidates received a total of 75,000 votes in the national elections.


A fire set by arsonists ravaged Temple Beth David in the Son Gabriel area of Los Angeles county causing over $130,000 in damage.

Annual survey by the ADL indicates a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents during 1980 as compared to 1979.

January 1981–

Vandals spraypaint swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on the outside walls of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Feodor Federenko violated U.S. law in his application for U.S. citizenship II years ago and he is no longer a U.S. citizen. The ruling opens the door to deportation proceedings against the alleged Nazi war criminal.


Georgetown University returns to the government of Libya a gift of $600,000 which that country contributed over the past four years to the University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

104 members of the House ask Reagan to put aside $3 million in the new proposed U.S. budget for the continuing persecution of Nazi war criminals living in the U.S.


President Reagan is wounded in an assassination attempt, along with three others, including White House Press Secretary James Brady, by John Hinkley, Jr., who is linked to the neo-Nazi Socialist Party of America and to Posse Cometatus, a rightwing, racist group.

Nazi war criminals Wolodymir Osidach and Feodor Federenko are ordered stripped of their U.S. citizenship in two separate cases in Fort Lauderdale and Philadelphia.


The House Judiciary Committee restores $118,000 that Reagan had cut from the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation budget for the 1982 fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The House rejects the Reagan proposal to rescind $12.5 million in appropriations this year to help Soviet Jewish refugees settle in Israel.


$1 million is committed to the Harvard Divinity School by the Albert A. List Foundation to establish the first endowed professorship in Jewish studies in the U.S. at a Protestant or Catholic seminary.


Reagan meets with Avital Shcharansky and losif Mendelevich and promises to do all he can to help Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky.

The Administration condemns Israel for its raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor and halts delivery of military planes to Israel.

Federal District Court judge in Cleveland rules that the citizenship of John Demjanjuk be “revoked, vacated and cancelled” for lying about his past wartime activities upon entering the U.S.

Reagan is asked by 142 members of Congress to seek release of some 5,000 Jews in Syria.


Although anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in the U.S., a report issued by the American Jewish Committee finds that anti-Semitism has declined in this country since the last poll in 1964.


Karl Linnas, accused of supervising the execution of prisoners in the concentration camp in Tartu, Estonia, has his citizenship revoked by a Federal District Court judge in Long Island, N. Y.


Sen. Barry Goldwater (R. Ariz.) asserts he would be in favor of opening a dialogue with the PLO if that would help reduce international terrorism.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund