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National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council Position on Affirmative Action (adopted June 1975) as amended January 1981, Excerpt

We recognize that past discrimination and other deprivations leave their mark on future generations; that, in the words of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Until we overcome unequal history, we cannot overcome unequal opportunity.”…

A just society has an obligation to seek to overcome the evils of past discrimination and other deprivations—inferior education, lack of training, inadequate preparation—by affording special help to its victims, so as to hasten their productive participation in the society.

If it fails to do so, our society will harbor inequality for generations, with attendant increases in inter-group hostility. The security of Jews as a group will not be immune from those consequences.…

Merit and Qualification: We believe that individual merit is the touchstone of equality of opportunity. At the same time, we recognize that individual merit is not susceptible of precise mathematical definition and that test scores, however unbiased, are not the only relevant criteria for determining merit and qualifications are such factors as poverty, cultural deprivation, inadequate schooling, discrimination, or other deprivation in the individual’s experience, as well as such personal characteristics as motivation, determination, perseverance, and resourcefulness; and we believe that all such factors should be taken into account.

Quotas: Experience has shown that implementation of affirmative action programs has resulted in practices that are inconsistent with the principle of nondiscrimination and the goal of equal opportunity such programs are designed to achieve. We oppose such practices, foremost among which is the use of quotas and proportional representation in hiring, upgrading, and admission of members of minority groups.

We regard quotas as inconsistent with the principles of equality; and as harmful in the long run to all, including those groups, some individual members of which may benefit from specific quotas under specific circumstances at specific times.


Excerpt from Chanes, Jerome A., “Affirmative Action: Jewish Ideals, Jewish Interests,” in Struggles in the Promised Land: Toward a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States. Jack Saltzman and Cornel West, eds. NY: Oxford University Press, 1997. p. 316. Permission to use granted by The Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council Position on Affirmative Action (adopted June 1975) as amended January 1981, Excerpt." (Viewed on January 20, 2018) <>.


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