Convention of Reform Rabbis Condemns Viet Cong Training of Arabs

The American Reform rabbinate condemned here today Viet Cong collaboration with personnel of the Palestine Liberation Organization army and assailed any action by the Viet Cong “calculated to impair the security of the State of Israel and endanger peace in the Middle East.”

The stand was expressed in a resolution approved by delegates to the 77th annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform rabbinical organization. The rabbis in effect denied there was any conflict between their criticism of Viet Cong collaboration with the PLO in anti-Israel activities and the insistence of the CCAR on United States negotiations with the Viet Cong’s National Liberation Front.

The resolution said that the CCAR stand for such negotiations “does not deter us from expressing our concern over hostile pronouncements against the State of Israel by NLF leaders and over a recent disclosure that some Palestine Liberation Army personnel are to be trained in China for possible action in Viet Nam.” The rabbis called “upon all groups seeking a just and peaceful settlement of the Viet Nam crisis to express their concern and to call upon the National Liberation Front to desist from support of anti-Israel aggression.”

In the same resolution, the Reform rabbis also criticized “the escalation of military preparations in the Middle East even as we applaud the persistent desire of the Government of Israel to talk peace,” The rabbis assailed “the intransigeance of many Arab leaders and their hate-inciting statements even as we commend President Bourguiba of Tunisia for his effort to introduce a measure of realism into the public debate.” The Tunisian leader called several times last year for Arab-Israel peace talks.

ASSAIL SOVIET SUPPRESSION OF JEWISH CULTURE AND RELIGION

In another resolution, the Reform rabbis condemned discrimination against Judaism and Jewish culture in the Soviet Union “as well as the denial to Jews of any possibility of meaningful community life or of fraternal contact with Jewish communities outside the Soviet Union.” The delegates expressed the belief that “Soviet officialdom has been responsive to world-wide protest, particularly to that which has emanated from Communist Party circles in other countries” concerning Soviet anti-Jewish discrimination.

The resolution voiced hope “for a liberalized policy in the Soviet Union with respect to Jewish emigration and for the removal of those restrictions which make any meaningful Jewish religious and cultural life presently impossible in the Soviet Union.” The rabbis hailed the work of the American Conference on Soviet Jewry and urged” our colleagues to give it their continuing cooperation.”

The rabbis also expressed concern over the fact that “far-right and neo-Nazi type parties are showing signs of resurgence in West Germany, and neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic sentiments were expressed in the campaign preceding the recent Austrian election.” The delegates urged the Reform rabbinate to be particularly alert to the acquittal of Nazi collaborators of charges of mass murders of Jews” in West Germany and Austria and to “the anti-Semitic campaign waged in Austria by Franz Olah, former Socialist Minister of the Interior.”

The rabbis urged the Austrian Government “to give form and meaning to the condemnation of anti-Semitism its leaders have expressed by taking effective measures against those who raise the barbaric cliches of anti-Semitism and by demonstrating in deeds its rejection of its Nazi past.”

OPPOSE PRAYERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; ADOPT RESOLUTION ON VIET NAM

The rabbis declared their opposition to the constitutional amendment being pushed by Sen. Everett Dirksen, the Senate minority leader, to allow prayers in public schools. In a resolution, they asserted that “religion abdicates its responsibility when it imposes on the institutions of the state the obligation to conduct religious exercises, and in a pluralistic society the state assumes unwarranted religious authority when it conducts such religious exercises.” They also criticized federal and state education grants to non-public religious schools as threatening a breach of the state-church separation principle.

The convention also reaffirmed the Reform rabbinate’s insistence that the United States act for a quick end to its participation in the Viet Nam war; assailed “the increasingly totalitarian and repressive measures with which the Government of South Africa seems to enforce its policy of apartheid;” urged support of a federal bill to authorize the federal government to dispense birth control information and services as “essential in the war against poverty;” and called for strengthening of the proposed 1966 Civil Rights Act to provide action in civil rights violations “by a federal administrative agency” and “civil indemnification for victims of civil rights violence.”

The rabbis decided not to take any action on the CCAR’s 1936 stand on Jewish religious conscientious objectors, which held them to be acting in accordance “with the highest interpretation of Judaism” and asked exemption of such objectors from military service as with Quakers, for example. The rabbis said the current debate on Viet Nam might require re-study of that position.

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