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August 31, 1962 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1962-08-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

2; Purely Commentary


Political Divisions
Among Jews ... Myth
of the 'Jewish Vote'

By. Philip


can Israelites. As an illustration that an influential class of
Jewish citizens are warm adherents of the Administration,
In a report from Washington recently. that Democratic
you have the fact that a Hebrew will cast for you the vote
m . leaders were looking for "another Herbert Lehman" to defeat
of a New York city congressional district. A single Union
this week presented these facts: the Chairman of
to York Times correspondent stated that such a' search was inoti-
the Executive Committee and Committee of Arrangements,
•tt vated by the belief that "Jewish voters support Jewish candi-
the gentleman who presented the resolutions, two principal
>!; dates. . . ." ,
speakers and many prominent persons upon the platform
The president of the American Jewish Committee. A. M.
were Jews — I refer to the German Union mass meeting on
7.1 Sonnabend, replied to this assumption in a letter to • the New
Monday night.
44 York Times in which he stated:
It is because I sympathize heart and soul with the action
This belief is one of those myths which persist despite
of (the) Government in using every means to restore the
extensive evidence to the contrary after almost every, elec-
Union and overthrow the machinations of those who seek
tion. The plain fact is that Jews are not at all likely to vote
its disruption, that I the more regret this attempt to deceive
for a Jewish candidate simply because he is Jewish.
you. There is no "Jewish vote"—if there were, it could not
Studies made by the research staff of the American
be bought. As a body of intelligent men, we are advocates
Jewish Committee in recent years have repeatedly demon-
of the cherished principles of liberty and justice, and must
strated this fact as a general pattern of voting behavior.
inevitably support and advocate those who are the exponents
Most striking was the recent Democratic primary in which
of such a platform—"liberty and Union, now and forever."
Mayor Wagner ran against Arthur Levitt for the Democratic
Pardon the liberty I take in thus trespassing on your
nomination for Mayor. Our research department studied the
attention, but I pray that you will attribute it to the sole
returns and found that in twenty-three election districts in
motive I have, that of undeceiving you and assuring you
Brooklyn, where Jews predominate, 63 per cent voted for
that there is no necessity for "pledging" the Jewish vote
Wagner, a Catholic, 37 per cent for Levitt, a Jew.
which does not exist—but at the same time that the majority 1
Over the years New- York voters have given the lie to
of Israelite citizens must concur in attachment for the Union
the Jewish bloc vote myth. In the 1945 mayoralty election
and a determination to leave no means untried to maintain ,
voters in predominantly Jewish districts voted more heavily
its honor and integrity. With the expression of high esteem,
for William O'Dwyer, Catholic, than for Jonah Goldstein,
I am, sir,
Jewish; in the 1953 mayoralty elections, more for Robert
Yours Most Respectfully,
Wagner, Catholic, than for Harold Riegelman, Jewish; in
the 1954 election for New York State Attorney General,
more for Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., Protestant, than for "The Jewish Vote" issue will undoubtedly be discussed as
Jacob Javits; in the 1961 mayoralty primary, as already long as there will be heavily-populated areas where candidates
mentioned, more for Wagner than for Levitt, and in the will have special appeals to Jewish voters. But no matter how
mayoralty itself, more for Wagner than for Lefkowitz. effective some of the appeals may be, there will always be Jews
To be even more specific, in three predominantly Jewish in all party ranks, and the votes of Jews will be sought as
neighborhoods in Manhattan and in Brooklyn, O'Dwyer re- ardently by all office-seekers.
Mr. Sonnabend is certainly correct in his analysis of the
ceived two and a- half times more votes than did Goldstein.
And most significant, New York City, with its large Jewish New York elections. Yet. there are times when there are strati-
population, has never had a Jewish Mayor. fications along religious lines. But these are minor elements in
During the Presidential campaign of 1960 the American our • present-day elections. The appeals to denominational inter-
Jewish Committee, on the basis of its research, issued a ests are less effective today than they were two decades ago.
statement denying that a Jewish bloc vote existed in na-1 The fact is that Jews are divided politically along the same
tional elections, and assailed this myth as jeopardizing the economic lines as non-Jews.
While appeals on the basis of a "Jewish vote" are regret-
American process of democratic elections. The two candi-
dates Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kennedy, joined us in this state- table, the dangers that are especially to be avoided are those
ment and in denying the existence of religious or racial that stem from direct appeals to prejudice. There were instances
voting blocs. Mr. Nixon deplored "any attempts to divide in our own community when political candidates asked "Gentile"
Americans on a religious, racial or sectional basis." Mr. support against their Jewish opponents, and when anti-Catholic
Kennedy stressed that "the enrollment books of both parties sentiments were uttered. Fortunately, such appeals to hatred
prove that Americans do not stratify along religious, racial have been reduced to a minimum. It proves that any false ap-
or ethnic lines." prehensions are quickly detected. That applies to rash references
The New York Times, in ' an editorial, quoted the candi- to "Jewish vote" influences. In the main, the American voter
senses his responsibilities properly and we need have no fears
dates and commended their statements.
about rash misrepresentations.
We believe it is time that politicians become aware of
the facts of political life and stop wasting their time and
energy pursuing a mythical voting pattern. It simply does 'Mike' Feldman, JFK and the State Department
not exist.
Every time a good word is said about Israel or a pleasant
This issue has cropped up time and again. The late Louis salutation is expressed by someone in a responsible position in
Marshall often repudiated any attempt to introduce the "Jewish our Government, the State Department is quick to assure the
vote" appeal in American elections. But the issue dates back Arab states that the gracious fellow who dared say kind word
as far as the Civil War. A recent issue of American Jewish to the Israelis, or to Jews or others about Israelis, was speaking
Archives, the periodical published by Hebrew Union College- only for himself.
Jewish Institute of Religion, carried an article entitled "There
That was the case with Meyer "Mike" Feldman, the so-called
Is No 'Jewish Vote'," in which an interesting discussion was spokesman on Jewish affairs for President Kennedy in the White
recalled. It refers to the national elections of 1864, when news- House. Feldman was kind to Israel while in Israel, and the State
papers reported that a Jewish delegation had visited President Department was prompt to tell .him: "You're speaking for your-
Lincoln to pledge to him the Jewish vote. Myer S. Isaacs, one self, Mike!"
of the editors of the Jewish Messenger, the English - Jewish
It must have been a Republican in the State Department
newspaper published at that time in New York, wrote to Presi- who did that to Mike. No Democrat would have been so unwise
dent Lincoln under date of Oct. 26, -1864:
as to choose so critical a time as the present for the Democratic
"Jewish Messenger" Office,
party—taking into account the political battle for the governor-
119 West Houston Street,
ship in Michigan and contests in other states—to repudiate the
New York, October 26th, 1864. President's views on Israel while rebuking Mike Feldman.
To the President
Actually, Mike Feldman was merely reiterating what Presi-
dent Kennedy had said about and to Israel and Israel's friends
Your Excellency:
in even stronger terms. The statements made to the Zionist
As a firm and earnest Union man, I deem it my duty to Organization by Kennedy were even firmer than Feldman's. Is
add a word to those that have doubtless been communicated the State Department trying to undermine the good deeds in its
to you from other sources, with reference to a recent "visita- efforts to play both sides but especially to continue to appease
tion" on the part of persons claiming to represent the Israel- - the Arabs?
ites of New York or the United States and pledging the
Well. it's President Kennedy's turn to speak in a re-avowal
J ewish vo e ff o your support, and, I am informed, succeed-
of friendship for Israel, especially in view of his having upheld
ing in a deception that resulted to their pecuniary profit.
aid to Nasser in spite of the troubles Nasser is having with his
Having peculiar facilities for obtaining information as own Arab kinsmen. And the Democratic leaders will have a lot
to the Israelites of the United States, from my eight years' of explaining to do. Perhaps such good friends of Israel as John'
connection with the Jewish paper of this city and my posi- B. Swainson, G. Mennen Williams, Philip Hart and Pat Mc-
tion as secretary of their central organization, the "Board Namara can do a bit more to set matters straight in the State
of Delegates"—in which capacity I have had the honor here- Department — vis-a-vis JFK and Mike Feldman — than those in
tofore of communicating with yourself and the Departments the White House who must have been embarrassed by the latest
—I feel authorized to caution you, sir, against any such State Department action.
representations as those understood to have been made.
There are a large number of faithful Unionists among Catholic 'America' Magazine's Threats
our prominent coreligionists—but there are also supporters
American Catholics must be greatly embarrassed by the
of the opposition, and indeed, the Israelites are not,- as a
body, distinctively (either) Union or Democratic (Secession. rather un-American threats of an impending anti-Semitism
ist) in their politics. In the conduct of our journal, for leveled at American Jewry by the Catholic magazine "America."
This magazine doesn't like the fact that American Jews
example, while, from the first fitting upon our national flag,
there has been a steady support of the Government in its are, in the main, in accord with the recent U.S. Supreme Court
efforts to maintain the integrity of the Union and crush the decision which ruled that it is unconstitutional for schools to
unhallowed rebellion, there has also been a studied per- introduce religious prayers in their curricula.
sistence in the expression of what is our implicit belief, that
American Jewry is in good company—with the majority of
the Jews, as a body, have no politics; and while we (The our highest court, and with many groups who stood by the high
Jewish Messenger) have earnestly counseled and implored court in its latest ruling. But even if American Jews had stood
attachment to the Union at whatever cost, we have refrained alone in their position against religious prayers in the schools,
from interfering with the private political views of indi- it would not justify the anger of Catholics. Since when does a
vidual readers. This is predicated on our direct knowledge group lose the right to its opinions in this country, and by what
of the character and opinions of our coreligionists.
right does anyone, especially an editorial group that seems to
Therefore, sir, I am pained and mortified to find that speak for a church group, dare to threaten fellow-Americans of
you had been imposed upon by irresponsible men, animated, another faith with an upsurge of antagonism to it for possessing
I am sure, by mercenary motives; and I wish to inform you, differing groups?
with all promptitude, that such acts are discountenanced
The magazine "America" has acted in an un-American —
and condemned most cordially by the community of Ameri- indeed, in an anti-American — spirit!


The Hoary Problem of 'The Jewish Vote'

on Bench


Secretary of Labor
Arthur J. Goldberg. has been
named by President Ken-
nedy to succeed Supreme
Court Justice Felix Frank-
furter. The Pr esident
sprung his surprise an-
nouncement of Mr. Justice
Frankfurter's resignation
and his selection of the able,
54 - year - old Secretary of
Labor to succeed him at his
press conference Wednes-
day afternoon.

Israel Will Back
Election of U Thant as
UN Secretary General

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)

JERUSALEM —The Security
and Foreign Affairs Committee
of the Knesset Tuesday heard.
a policy statement by Foreign
Minister Golda Meir • on the
major problems slated for dis-
cussion at the forthcoming ses-
sion of the United Nations Gen-
eral Assembly.
Ambassador Michael Comay,
Israel's permanent representa-
tive to the United Nations, and
Gideon Rafael, director general
of the Foreign Ministry, supple-
mented Mrs. Meir's statement
with additional . reports.
Mrs. Meir reportedly told the
committee that the government
was gratified that many friendly
states will take the initiative,
as they did last year, to propose..
direct talks between Israel _and:
the Arab. countries. .
It was also ., •disclosed • . that
Israel's delegation - 4.01d back
the re-election of U: :.Thant iri
the post of Secretary=I.Genera-1
when his term as ,.Acting SOre - .
tars General expires - nxt.April.
Israel will also suppo r t
mission to the_-United Tations
of applications by six - ,cbuPtries
including Algeria.

Latin American
Jewish „Commumties.
to Hold COMerence.:

Nahum Goldrhanh, presiden-e of
the World Jewish-Congress, :and'
senior Brazilian government
officials are scheduled to ad-
dress the fourth conference of
Latin American Jewish com-
munities convened by the WJC
and the World Zionist Organi-
zation to open Oct. 22.
Representatives of leading
international Jewish organiza-
tions, including the Conference
on Jewish Material Claims
against Germany, the Joint Dis-

tribution Committee, Hias


Ort are expected to attend the
conference which will consider
all aspects of Jewish life in
South America.
In view of recent events in
this part of the world, all Latin
American Jewish communities
are expected to take part in the

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