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AJCongress Study Assesses Anti-Semitism; Proposes a Program for Community Action

March 27, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

While there is evidence of increased anti-Semitic violence and vandalism, "claims of a ‘wave’ of anti-Semitism in any part of this country do not seem justified," the American Jewish Congress declared in a major statement on anti-Semitism adopted by its policy-making Governing Council. The AJCongress also adopted a comprehensive nine-point community action program to "cauterize" anti-Semitism at its source.

Despite an increase in the number of reported incidents of anti-Semitism, "all social indices we have conventionally employed to measure anti-Semitism over the years converge in the same direction: the low estate of anti-Semitism in the United States," the AJCongress asserted. "In all sectors of American life, anti-Semitism has become shabby, disreputable and abhorrent."

"There is uniform agreement by all who have studied these matters that there is no evidence that any of the recent acts of anti-Semitism were carried out in concert or pursuant to any common design, purpose or arrangement," the statement said. "In the overwhelming majority of cases in which the perpetrators have been caught, they have turned out to be juveniles under the age of 17, and in virtually all cases it has been established that they were acting independently," according to the AJCongress analysis.

Nevertheless, the AJCongress cautioned that "the trauma of the Hitler period does not allow us to feel entirely secure even in free and enlightened societies." The history of western culture "is burdened by a tragic legacy of anti-Semitic prejudice," it added. "Quiescent from period to period, we sense that this predilection lurks beneath the skin of our civilization. We are therefore unable to preclude as unthinkable the deterioration of even a seemingly sophisticated, safe community into a cauldron of anti-Semitic fury."


The AJCongress urged a nine-point program which calls for: improved monitoring of anti-Semitic incidents; creation of separate sections in police departments and the prosecutor’s offices to deal with racial or religious incidents; a review of existing laws to determine their adequacy; reviewing the methods of dealing with offenders; periodic reviews by the police, prosecutors and the Jewish community of anti-Semitic incidents. Also, meetings with the media to discuss the method of reporting incidents; conferences with churches and schools on how to convert anti-Semitic incidents into constructive purposes; assistance to school districts on curriculum dealing with human rights, genocide and the Holocaust; and organization of communitywide coalitions to maintain alertness toward anti-Semitism and to meet it with a united response.

The AJCongress pointed out its officials studied a wide range of reports of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. The statistics on increased growth by the Ku Klux Klan "do not imply that the Klan is on the verge of a breakthrough in terms of public support," the AJCongress statement said. The various neo-Nazi demonstrations "have proved the impotence of these fringe groups, their marginality and the total contempt and hostility in which they are held," it asserted.

In employment, housing and admission to the most prestigious universities and professional schools, "Jews confront no special encumberances, as Jews, and experience no significant discrimination," it added.

"More critically," the statement argued, "there is not a single influential public personality or molder of public opinion, not a single important or influential journal, magazine or newspaper, not a single important or influential radio or television commentator or spokesman who has failed to express complete and total abhorrence and revulsion over anti-Semitism in all its manifestations."

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