Attorney General William Saxbe has issued a statement which a spokesman termed a “clarification” of his comment last Wednesday that “Jewish intellectuals” were “very enamored of the Communist Party” during the McCarthy era. In his “clarification” Saxbe said he had “long felt there was a great deal of anti-Semitism in the Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Much of it was directed at some highly visible Jewish intellectuals who were considered sympathetic to Russia.”
Saxbe added that “because of the Soviet posture toward the issues of importance to Jews, this is no longer the case today and I believe this change can best be seen by the totally different type of individual involved in the terrorist groups now operating.” The Attorney General’s original comment evoked sharp criticism from Jewish leaders and Congressmen.
Representatives Robert Drinan (D. Mass.) and Elizabeth Holtzman (D. NT) demanded that Saxbe repudiate his remarks. Drinan, a Roman Catholic priest, declared that “nothing less than a complete repudiation will suffice.” Ms. Holtzman termed Saxbe’s remarks “grossly inaccurate” and “brutally insensitive of the history of anti-Semitism throughout the world.” The Congresswoman, in a telegram to Saxbe, stated: “It is genuinely appalling to me that you, as the highest legal officer in this country, could so easily adopt the concept of “Jewish Communist,’ a catch phrase that has been a chief tool of anti-Semites since Nazi Germany.” Howard M. Squadron, chairman of the American Jewish Committee’s National Governing Council, urged President Nixon to remove Saxbe from office if the Justice Department chief does not himself resign and accused Saxbe of “group libel” for “repeating an old and discredited calumny against the Jewish community.” Squadron added that Saxbe’s original statement and his “clarification” that followed “demonstrate a way of thinking that classifies people by ethnic stereotype.” Earlier, Rabbi Alexander Schindler. president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, also called for Saxbe’s resignation or public apology. Other Jewish organizations that assailed Saxbe were the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Labor Committee and the Jewish War Veterans.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.