NEW YORK (Aug. 23)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today accused the House Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations of "rendering a disservice to the public interest" by making "loosely-framed charges" against certain educational foundations and organizations without permitting these groups an opportunity to testify publicly before the Committee.
In an 1,800-word letter sent by Henry Edward Schultz, ADL national chairman, to Representative B. Carroll Reece, committee chairman, the League expressed its shock at the "sweeping accusations" made in the Committee’s staff report. It defended the work of voluntary citizen’s groups as necessary in a democratic society, declaring:
"When indiscriminate attacks are made on these organizations, such assaults serve to inhibit a basic aspect of our American life. Ultimately they could lead to the destruction of the opportunity for the average citizen to make his voice heard and to help defend and extend democratic beliefs and practices." The League is an educational arm of B’nai B’rith, 111-year-old Jewish service order with a membership of 350,000.
Because it had been named "peripherally" in the Committee’s report, the League was critical of Congressman Reece’s decision to shut off public hearings after witnesses hostile to the foundations and groups listed in the report had testified in public. The League requested that its letter be made part of the Committee’s record.
Describing the League’s 40 years of service as a group counteracting religious and racial hatred, promoting improved group relations among all Americans, and campaigning for the extension of full civil rights to every citizen, Mr. Schultz wrote: "How stunned we all were to have our activities in education referred to in a document of a congressional committee as being against the public interest and against American concepts."
Mr. Schultz said that ADL is one of many voluntary citizens’ groups which are, and have been a keystone of the whole structure of American democratic belief and practice. "Our American system of voluntary association," he said, "enables our citizens to participate in public affairs and to contribute to the general welfare. In the great complex of American life outside the sphere of government–and government is only part of our democratic structure–we have learned to help make democracy work through the instrument of such voluntary groups of citizens."