American Jewish Conference Closes; Outlines Refugee, Human Rights, Reparation Demands
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American Jewish Conference Closes; Outlines Refugee, Human Rights, Reparation Demands

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The three-day meeting of the American Jewish Conference concluded here today after adopting a number of resolutions dealing with the refugee problem, the question of anti-Semitism and human rights, and reparations. It also formulated demands to be presented for inclusion in the peace treaties when they are drawn up.

The conference also adopted a resolution emphasizing that the Joint Distribution Committee “must of necessity have the support of the political representation of the American Jewish Conference” in order to accomplish its relief activities. The resolution, therefore, demanded that the Conference establish liaison and close cooperation with the JDC, and instruct its interim committee to take the necessary steps towards the establishment of such cooperation.

The delegates recommended that the international bill of rights of the UNO should, in addition to fundamental freedoms, also include the following specific provisions:

“1- Outlawing of anti-Semitism and racism, and making incitement to, and practice of, racial and religious discrimination a punishable offense.

“2- The right of every person to the nationality of that country in whose territory he was born, unless he desires another nationality.

“3- The right of every person to emigrate freely and to be expatriated at his request.

“4- The protection of specific group rights of ethnic, cultural and religious groups, especially in the field of education, welfare, and religious and cultural activities.”


The resolution also demanded that the international bill of rights of the UNO be made a part of the constitution of all members of the UNO, and that the right of appropriate and representative organizations should be established to petition the Commission on Human Rights, and any other international, judicial, or administrative organizations, which might be set up by the UNO.

With regard to the refugee problem, the Conference adopted a resolution calling upon the United Nations to request that immediate possibilities for resettlement of the displaced Jewish persons and refugees be found, in accordance with the needs and the wishes of these people, in Palestine and other countries to which they may want to go.

The resolution asked the establishment by the United Nations of an appropriate authority and machinery to enable the resettlement of displaced Jews and to alleviate their plight in the meantime. “This agency shall be supported by all the governments of the United Nations,” it said. It also urged that a “Jewish Advisory Council” to the new international authority on refugees be established, composed of representatives of appropriate and representative Jewish organizations.

The new committee on refugees, the resolution suggested, should issue identity and travel documents to all stateless persons and those who do not enjoy the protection of any government, Displaced Jews who do not wish to be repatriated, it said, should not be compelled to go back against their will, and should fall under the jurisdiction of the new organization.


Stressing that the provisions embodied in the armistice agreements calling for the repeal of racial legislation are gasifying, the Conference pointed out in another resolution that in view of the persistence of Nazi and racist ideology among the populations in the liberated countries, these provisions must be developed further, and an effective enforcement machinery will have to be set up. The resolution, therefore, asked the American Government to make sure that the following provisions are included in the peace treaties:

“1- Full equality in law and in fact shall be guaranteed to Jews and Jewish communities in every field of life regulated by law.

“2- Jewish victims of Axis persecution shall be restored fully to their former rights; restitution of their property shall be effected, and in cases where restitution is impossible, full indemnification should be accorded to them or their heirs; the property of extinct Jewish communities, as well as masterless and unclaimed property, shall be handed over to the Jewish community of the respective countries to be used for the rehabilitation and the resettlement of surviving Jews; provision for the eventual transfer of all Jewish property, or adequate compensation for it, to countries of final settlement of Jews, shall be made.

“3- In cases of new delimitations of boundaries, those persons who find themselves in the territory of a new state shall have the right either to remain there and automatically acquire the nationality of that state, or the right of emigration from the new territory and immigration to the territory of their former state, but no compulsion in this respect shall be exercised.

“4- In all cases where a state was formerly bound by internal provisions in regard to minorities, these provisions shall be included in the peace treaty, irrespective of more effective and more far-reaching safeguards that may be included in all of the treaties.”


The interim committee of the Conference was instructed in another resolution to act with the World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews to take necessary steps for the recognition by the UNO of a “Jewish Representation” of agencies dealing with the problems of relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and other aspects of reconstruction.

Expressing disappointment at the fact that the Paris agreement on reparations virtually disregarded the Jewish people, “and that the provisions therein for the rehabilitation of displaced persons are insufficient, and that there is no guarantee to what extent they will benefit Jewish displaced persons,” the Conference recommended that the UNO acknowledge the principle that all property looted or confiscated by Nazi action, directly or indirectly, from its Jewish owners should be considered the property of the Jewish individual or of the Jewish people as such.

It asked that Jewish advisers be appointed to the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency, also to the appropriate control division of the American Military Government in Germany and Austria, and to the Reparations Division of the Control Council, for the purpose of assuring proper identification of Jewish property, and for the preparation and execution of restitution measures.

The Conference also demanded that the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem should be included among the war criminals to be tried by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.


The concluding session was addressed by Col. Bernard Bernstein, former fiscal adviser to Gen. Eisenhower, who discussed the difficulties involved in securing reparations for Jews. He charged the U.S. Government with seeing many things through the eyes of Britain, who, he said, wants to head a European bloc of nations, and is, therefore, interested in reviving Germany.

He called upon Jewish organizations to be on guard, stressing that a danger exists that Jews may not only fail to get to Palestine, but that the peace may be lost, if certain policies are placed in effect in Germany by our Government.

Other speakers today included Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, who presided. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, who spoke last night, declared that there is no such thing as illegal immigration to Palestine. “Illegal is every attempt to keep the Jews out of Palestine,” he said, adding that “a people which could be kept out of its own homeland by the failure to get immigration certificates would not be worthy to possess its own land.”

A new interim committee was elected this afternoon, and given the right to co-opt an additional fifteen members from the Jewish community at large. A budget of $250,000 for the current year was approved.

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