‘dialogue in Israel’ Hears Warning That U.S. Urban Unrest Threatens Jews

An American Jewish educator declared here today that the present urban unrest in the United States posed a great danger for American Jewry, particularly with respect to Negro extremism, because such situations often adversely affected Jews more than it did other groups. The warning was made by Dr. Judah Shapiro, speaking at a meeting of American Labor Zionist leaders which was being held at the same time as the annual “Dialogue in Israel” sponsored by the American Jewish Congress. Dr. Shapiro added that the American Negro civil rights movement and other Negro causes would “soon forget the aid which Jews extended to them in their hour of need” as has happened “in similar cases throughout Jewish history.”

Mordechai Bar-On, head of the youth and hechalutz department of the Jewish Agency, told the American Labor Zionists that he felt his principal task was to bring younger Israeli Jews closer to the Jews in other countries. He also said that the number of Israelis practicing religion was growing. He cited as evidence the emotion which swept Israel after troops liberated the Wailing Wall in Old Jerusalem in the Six-Day War last year.

A totally different view on religion in Israel was presented at the AJCongress dialogue by Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a leading Israeli thinker whose strictures on Judaism in Israel so stunned the dialogue participants, particularly the Americans, that they asked for a few hours of recess to ponder and evaluate Prof. Leibowitz’ comments. He flatly rejected the widespread description of Israel’s 1967 victory as due to a miracle. He said “there was no miracle.” He said the June victory resulted from Israel’s ability to create a modern fighting force, which the Arabs could not do.

Prof. Leibowitz also disputed the contention that the victory evoked a “religious eruption” among the Jews of Israel and those overseas. He said that what actually developed was a “patriotic emotion” which took on the image of religion. He noted that Gen. Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, had hurried to the Wailing Wall and inserted a request for lasting peace between stones in the Wall, but, he added, there was no religious significance to Gen. Dayan’s act. He declared that Gen. Dayan’s children never saw a synagogue from the inside. He called worshipping at the Wailing Wall “nothing but idolatry” and declared that religion in Israel was a divisive factor in that it barred an observant Jew from dining with a non-observant Jew because of the problems of the dietary laws.

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