JERUSALEM (Jan. 8)
An international conference of Jewish leaders, called by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, opened here today with a reception for the 160 delegates at the home of President Zalman Shazar. It convened later at the Knesset (Parliament) where the visitors were addressed by Mr. Eshkol. The conference will run through Jan. 12. Attending were representatives of the 22 constituents of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the organizations that comprise Cojo (Conference of Jewish Organizations) and 14 other national and international Jewish bodies engaged in political, humanitarian and religious activities. President Shazar told the gathering that the most important aspect of the conference was the fact that it is being held.
Prime Minister Eshkol stressed in his keynote speech that the parley was not ideological in nature. “We are assembled here,” he said, “to emphasize what unites us, not what divides us.” He then addressed himself to current events that have united world Jewry with Israel, among them continued terrorist incursions and yesterday’s announcement by France of a total embargo on all strategic materiel to Israel. Mr. Eshkol likened the French action to “binding the hands” of one disputant in the arena who is threatened by another. He said this was hardly to be expected from a third party which lays claim to objectivity and to the role of peacemaker in the Middle East dispute.
Terrorist activities, Mr. Eshkol said, were part of the pattern of Arab warfare with Israel since 1948 which has been to agree to cease-fire arrangements and then allow terrorists to shell villages and commit acts of sabotage while armies are rebuilt. He said however that there were some rays of hope such as discussions by certain Arabs about the prudence of renewing war against Israel.
Mr. Eshkol also spoke of the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union and the dangers of assimilation in the Western countries. He urged Jewish communities and organizations abroad to give top priority to Jewish education. Another speaker, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of Cojo and the World Jewish Congress, asked Israel to accord world Jewry the role of junior partner in building the State.