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American Jewish Committee President Appeals to Vatican on Jews

May 21, 1965
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Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, told the Catholic Church tonight that it now has "a great opportunity to join the Protestant world in removing an old source of bitterness and prejudice and a grave impediment to good human relations." He referred to the forthcoming session of the Ecumenical Council in September at which the much-discussed Vatican declaration repudiating the charge that Jews crucified Jesus is to be discussed for final adoption.

Mr. Abram spoke at the opening session of the annual conference of the American Jewish Committee which will last four days. Other speakers at the dinner-session included Vice President of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his presidential address, Mr. Abram also urged that Jews should not hold "the German people as a whole" guilty for all time for the acts of the "criminal Nazi state."

"Many Germans," he said, have asked:" ‘How long shall we be forced to remember the past?’ Many Jews have asked: ‘When shall we ever be able to forget the past?’ It seems that to each, the answer must be the same: ‘Let the past be remembered and let it not be forgotten so long as it can instruct the future.’ But in our remembrance let us never visit the sins of one on to another, nor those of the fathers on to the sons."

He pointed out that it was in this spirit that Israel "established diplomatic relations with Germany" and motivated the American Jewish Committee to work "arduously for reconciliation of German and Jew on the basis of the redemptive quality of justice." He declared that in this context, the war crimes trials must continue, just reparations must be paid to all victims, not just those who had the opportunity to escape from the Iron Curtain before 1953.

The president of the American Jewish Committee, who was recently appointed by the United States as its representative on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, expressed the belief that progress is being made in the United Nations on the adoption of an international convention to eliminate religious intolerance and that "the United Nations is rubbing many abrasive differences in this area into reasonably satisfactory accommodations." However, he said, "the USSR continues unabated its persecution of Jews whose only crime is that they wish to continue to be Jews."

Vice President Humphrey, in an extensive survey on the civil rights situation, placed special emphasis on the role of the Federal Government, in cooperation with states and localities, in dealing with what he called "the new dimensions of the civil rights struggle." Dr. King spoke on the civil rights struggle and its main directions for the future.

In his address, Dr. King said: "Perhaps if there had been a broader understanding of the uses of non-violent direct action in Germany when Hitler was rising and consolidating his power, the brutal extermination of 6,000,000 Jews and millions of other war dead might have been averted and Germany might never have become totalitarian. If Protestants and Catholics had engaged in non-violent direct action and had made the oppression of the Jews their very own oppression and had come into the streets beside the Jews to scrub the sidewalks, and had Gentiles worn the stigmatizing yellow arm bands by the millions, a unique form of mass resistance to the Nazis might have developed."

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