NEW YORK (Aug. 27)
The new president of the American Jewish Committee, Arthur J. Goldberg, today decried East German and Polish attempts to inject "Zionism" as an issue in the Warsaw Pact invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia. Taking office as the successor of Morris B. Abram, the former Supreme Court Associate Justice and United States Ambassador to the United Nations said the Communists’ charge that Zionists posed a threat to Czech Socialism was "shocking, shameless and completely unfounded." "The effort to revive anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe," Mr. Goldberg said, "carries a portent of danger" to the whole world and is a reminder of the Hitler era. "There was no Jewish involvement in what was a national act by the Czech people," he said, referring to that nation’s resistance to the occupation. "The number of Jews in Czechoslovakia is insignificant."
At a press conference at the AJCommittee’s headquarters here, Mr. Goldberg said he hoped that the Czech crisis would improve the possibilities of success of the Middle East peace mission being conducted by United Nations special envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. "I hope the message will come loud and clear to the Middle East – to Israel’s Arab neighbors – that the Russians exact a price for aid and help. The dimension of that price was demonstrated by what was paid in Czechoslovakia," he said.
Asked by the JTA whether, in view of the Soviet Union’s heavy supply of weapons to the Arab states, President Johnson should provide Israel with the supersonic Phantom jet fighter-bombers it seeks, Mr. Goldberg said: "The best solution to the Middle East problem is for all states concerned to take up the question of arms limitation. Israel however cannot disarm alone. The Soviets regrettably are pouring arms into the Middle East. The United States must see that the arms imbalance must not exist."
SEES NO ANTI-SEMITISM IN DELAY ON FORTAS CONFIRMATION
Repeating his often expressed support for the nomination of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice of the United States, Mr. Goldberg said he did not believe anti-Semitism was involved in Senate delay of Mr. Fortas’ confirmation. The issue, he said, was solely a political one. Anti-Semitism is no longer an issue in American political life, he declared, citing his own confirmation by the Senate for three important offices, including that of Secretary of Labor under the late President John F. Kennedy. Such confirmations, the AJCommittee head declared, is "scarcely compatible with anti-Semitism in Congress as a whole."
He defended his intervention in the controversial issue of New York University’s appointment of John F. Hatchett, a former Harlem teacher, as director of the university’s new Martin Luther King Jr. Afro-American Student Center. He had been invited by NYU president Dr. James H. Hester, along with District Judge Constance Baker Motley, a Negro and NYU trustee, to meet with Mr. Hatchett after many organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, assailed the appointment because Mr. Hatchett had written last November that Jews "mentally poisoned" Negro pupils. After conferring with Mr. Hatchett, Mr. Goldberg wrote Dr. Hester that Mr. Hatchett "strongly denies that he is anti-Semitic, although the expressions in the article can be so regarded," and said that Mr. Hatchett "now understands the injustice and dangers inherent in the kind of criticism he voiced." Pointing out today that he had entered the dispute as a private citizen interested in trying to promote reconciliation and conciliation and not exacerbating differences, Mr. Goldberg said he would stand by his role as a peace-maker. He acknowledged that there had been differences within the AJCommittee on his role in the Hatchett affair and added that the organization is a democratic one and does not operate on the "fuehrer principle." He said that he expects disagreement with his views in the future on various AJCommittee matters.
Mr. Goldberg said he was "happy to take on a new responsibility in my role as a member of the Jewish community. In a sense this is an all-embracing role since my concern for justice, peace, enlightenment, morality all stem from the heritage of which I am the heir."