U.S. Jewry Warned Against Growing Isolationist Movement in Jewish Life

Jews in the United States were warned today against “growing isolationism” in American Jewish life which seeks to disavow ties with Israel and with Jews in other parts of the world. The warning was voiced by Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, at a meeting of the national governing council, the national policy-making body of the organization.

Dr. Prinz said that this “isolationist ideology” is finding increasing acceptance, particularly among Jewish college youth. He said this development “threatens to splinter American Jewish community life and to render impossible a fruitful relationship between American Jews and Israel.”

Dr. Prinz defined “Jewish isolationism” as “the theory that American Jews are a self-sufficient, self-contained religious sect which has no concern or identification with Jews in other countries or with Israel, except perhaps for philanthropy.” He called for a new relationship between U. S. Jewry and Israel based not on charity but on “political independence and cultural interdependence.”

While American Jewry’s sense of “belonging to America” was beyond dispute, he said, U. S. Jews at the same time have “both the right and responsibility to express their solidarity and identification with the upbuilding of Israel and with fellow-Jews in other parts of the world. Hand in hand with establishing strong and friendly ties with Israel–ties that must transcend philanthropy–the American Jewish community faces the task of creating a meaningful Jewish life that translates mere Jewish survival into positive Jewish living,” Dr. Prinz declared.

The American Jewish Congress leader said recent statements by certain Israeli leaders indicated a “misunderstanding” of the real situation of America’s 5,500,000 Jews, who comprise the largest community in Jewish history.

“Possessing the same rights and freedoms as all Americans and living in a society that protects and even encourages the maintenance of cultural and religious identity, American Jewry constitutes a unique development in Jewish experience, ” Dr. Prinz declared. “If some Israeli leaders would begin to recognize this, they would no longer try to apply outmoded Zionist terminology to the unique community that is American Jewry in the 1960′s.

“They would understand that we do not conceive of ourselves as ‘guests’ in a country that is ‘hostile’ to our development. On the contrary, American Jews are fully integrated into every context of American life–social, economic, cultural and political. The desire to uproot one’s self from the country of one’s birth–while understandable in 1897 when Theodor Herzl forecast the doom and disintegration of Jewish life in the Diaspora–is today utterly foreign and completely unacceptable to American Jewry.”

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