Menu JTA Search

Wj Congress Sees Problems Stemming from South American Church’s Quest for Dialogue

An official of the World Jewish Congress warned Latin American Jewry today that the Catholic Church in South America poses problems in its new quest for a dialogue with Jews. Dr. Gerhard Riegner, secretary general of the WJ Congress, addressed the fifth conference of Latin American Jewish communities here attended by 250 delegates from 14 countries. He said that for centuries the Jews were objects of persecution by the Catholic Church but now Catholics are inviting Jews to dialogues and many Jews are taking part in them without mandate or responsibility. He said that “many churchmen are looking for ‘Jewish Cardinals,’ ignoring the fact that our organization is different from theirs and that the Jews are not only a religious community but a national entity.”

The conference session was interrupted by an Argentinean youth, Alejandro Horowitz, who demanded and received permission to read a manifesto charging that the decision by the 27th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem to include more youth in the Zionist leadership was not being implemented.

Mr. Riegner spoke of the condition of Jews in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. He said several governments–France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Spain–were trying to help Jews leave Egypt. He assailed the Arab countries for refusing to permit a United Nations emissary to investigate the situation of their Jewish populations as requested by Israel. He also spoke about Eastern European Jewry and the revival of official anti-Semitism in Poland. He said he hoped the “hard line” on Jews in Russia and Poland would not last forever.

Dr. Tobias Kamenszain, president of the Argentinean Jewish Community Federation, discussed the various Jewish communities of Latin America, some of which he said were strong and well-organized while others were weak and loosely organized. The event, organized by the WJ Congress, South American Executive and World Zionist Organization, heard Dr. Nahum Goldmann. WJ Congress president, say that current times are dangerous for Jews. He cited a “new form of anti-Semitism called anti-Zionism” found in Poland and the Soviet Union, and said that South African Jews are “living on a volcano.”

NEXT STORY