B’nai B’rith Convention Opens in Israel; Klutznck Doubts U.S. Aliyah
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B’nai B’rith Convention Opens in Israel; Klutznck Doubts U.S. Aliyah

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Philip M. Klutznick, president of the B’nai B’rith, keynoted the opening tonight of that organization’s first triennial convention outside the United States by reminding 1, 300 delegates and thousands of Israeli guests that “the majority of the Jews will continue to live in lands outside Israel. This may be a hard fact for extravagant nationalism to accept, ” he asserted, “but to blink at it is utter folly.

The B’nai B’rith president warned Israel not to pin false hopes on the possibilities of any large-scale immigration from the United States and other free lands and stressed that “importuning calls for wholesale migration” were not only foredoomed to failure but displayed a negative attitude towards Jewish life abroad.

The five-day convention, held in the huge hall of Jerusalem’s Convention Center, was opened with an invocation by Rabbi Yitzchak Nissim, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, and a welcoming address by President Itzhak Ben Zvi of Israel. Members of the Government and leaders in all walks of life in Israel were present at the opening session. President Eisenhower sent a cable of greetings to the convention in which he lauded the B’nai B’rith activities.

Mr. Klutznick’s presidential address was devoted mainly to the question of relationships between Israel and the Jews in the rest of the world. He pointed out that Jews living in countries unfriendly to them would continue to seek a way to reach Israel and “it is axiomatic that all of us will assist their efforts. “

A second category of Jews, he noted, were those living under forms of government that offended their Jewishness and sense of human dignity. From time to time, he said, some of these might escape or be permitted to emigrate. “This prospect is both welcome and burdensome. It is a challenge to Jews everywhere. “

He pointed out that four times the number of Jews in Israel live inlands where Jewish life freely flourishes and “anti-Semitism, in the age of today, is a receding factor in their lives.” He warned that the relationship of these Jews with Israel was “the key challenge in Jewish life” and advised the Israelis that “these Jews must not be characterized in the Israeli mind as available targets for immigration campaigns nor their reluctance to emigrate be derided. “

The American Jewish leader praised Israel’s Law of Return as one of “the great moral justifications of her statehood” but he stressed that it would be an “unwise and unproductive venture for Israel to anticipate any disintegration of Jewish life in the free lands as a boon to large-scale Aliyah.

“Importuning calls for wholesale migration, ” he declared, “are not only foredoomed to failure, but detrimental to Israel as a negative attitude toward Jewish life elsewhere. The Jewish heritage and Judaism itself, ” he pointed out, “are not coincidental with Israel as a State. Too many Israelis and too many American Jews tend to equate Judaism and Israel. “

Mr. Klutznick pleaded with Israelis for the “restoration of dignity to the word ‘Diaspora’ which is not inherently something greatly inferior. ” He further called on Israel to recognize the importance of the various religious attitudes of Diaspora Jewry and for “mutual respect for differing religious practices. “

Reverting to the subject of relations between American Jewry and Israel, Mr. Klutznick predicted there would be a time when American Jewry’s relationship with Israel will be “less in terms of crisis philanthropy. ” He urged an increased flow of American Jewish capital to Israel and stressed that it was the moral duty of all free Jews to assist Israel absorb its immigrants. He called on all Jews abroad to learn Hebrew which “must be the language of our common cultural attributes. “

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