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B’nai B’rith Urges Rescinding of Poland’s Tariff Privilege in U.S.

May 14, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

B’nai B’rith proposed today that the United States rescind Poland’s most-favored-nation tariff privilege in protest against the Polish regime’s current policy of “promoting anti-Semitism and hostility to the West.” The organization’s board of governors, concluding a two-day meeting, declared that the conditions which led to this preferential status no longer held for Poland, whose Government “has responded with brutal force and shameful fabrications, combining police clubs and political anti-Semitism to defeat freedom.” The most-favored benefits provide for exports from specific countries to enter the United States under the lowest possible tariff duties. In 1958, Congress authorized the President to extend the advantages to Yugoslavia and Poland — the only East European nations so favored — in recognition of their efforts to move away from Soviet domination and seek closer ties with the West.

The board said the Polish Government, “borrowing from the notorious tactic of the Russian Czars, has played on anti-Semitic prejudices and scapegoated the Jew to deflect attention from its own offenses.” It declared that “no one is deceived” by Poland’s claim that its target was Zionists, not Jews, and characterized the regime as one of the “dwindling number” in Eastern Europe “that slavishly follows Moscow’s lead.”


At a session exploring ways to involve B’nai B’rith’s 21 local unite in the urban crisis, the board voted to canvass its 500,000 members to promote summer and apprentice jobs for ghetto youth and to help potential Negro small businessmen gain financing and managerial know-how, It also expressed concern over the growing “atmosphere of lawlessness,” and warned that continuing disregard for law and order could further polarize white-Negro animosity.

Dr. William A. Wexler, president of B’nai B’rith, said that “racial indignities are not going to evaporate in riots” and warned that extremism is likely to be encouraged “if the national mood is to stress efforts to suppress riots over building the kind of society that is our only salvation.” The board deplored Negro anti-Semitism and Black Power that “is used for an anti-white separatist black philosophy,” but said it was sympathetic to Black Power when it is meant “to appeal to the development of black dignity of a strong black community or of an effective political voice.”

The board accepted the principle of “preferential treatment” in employment opportunities for Negroes and other disadvantaged minorities but coupled it with an appeal for prudent action to avoid any excesses that could lead to “reverse discrimination.” The board also voted support of programs “for the reconstruction, rehabilitation or relocation” of white merchants in ghetto neighborhoods who have become “frightened and confused” and “who have suffered and who face the loss of their businesses.

The board voted to sponsor low-cost housing developments for elderly persons of limited income and approved construction, financed by Federal mortgage loans of six projects, averaging 150 units each, to begin within the next 12 months. A B’nai B’rith Senior Citizens Housing Committee, headed by Abe Cramer of Harrisburg, Pa., announced the selection of building sites in Miami, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, Far Rockaway and the Atlantic City-Asbury Park area.

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