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Integration Issue Debated at A. D. L. Parley in Florida; Views Vary

February 11, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An intense debate on the role of the Anti-Defamation League in relation to integration was one of the chief features of a Florida-wide meeting of ADL leaders in West Palm Beach. After the debate, in which a number of Florida Jews called for the ADL to drop the integration issue and others asked backing of the national ADL policy, a resolution was adopted by the 125 delegates urging that the ADL cooperate with ”patriotic organizations in support of the continued operations of free schools in the State of Florida.”

At a session devoted to the “role of a Jewish defense agency in the South today,” Paul Jeffrey, of Ft. Pierce, demanded that the League “get out of the field of civil rights. “Insisting that “we must safeguard the well-being of Jews, ” Mr. Jeffrey said that while the ADL is committed to battling against both racial and religious discrimination, it must not remain so “if such battles endanger the position of Jews.”

Similar views were expressed by Barney Cohen, of Orlando, Louis Ossinsky, Sr., of Daytona Beach, and Frank Kleinfeld of St. Petersburg. In general, these speakers felt that if they actively supported integration in the South, Jewish agencies would disturb local Jewish-Christian relations.

Supporters of the ADL national policy backing integration, included Paul Seidman of Miami Peach, chairman of the Florida board, AV Schneider, chairman of the Jacksonville Community Relations Council, and George Taliauoff, national ADL commissioner and former chairman of the Florida board. Mr. Schneider hit out at the “fear of boycott” which he held explained Southern Jewry’s “inclination to be silent. If we do not speak up for freedom for all peoples because, as Jews, we believe it may hurt our economic status, then we are giving up the basic American right of freedom of speech and expression,” he said.

Other resolutions adopted at the state session called for investigation by the authorities of the mailing of hate literature; for study of existing statutes which relate Id criminal libel with a view to strengthening them and, for the ADL to draft legislation to bar hate literature from the mails and to punish group libel.

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