American Jews Angered by Embargo; Apparent Boycott Movement Growing

American Jews — at least those represented by major organizations–are infuriated by the French boycott of arms and spare parts to Israel and are mounting counter-measures designed to hurt France’s troubled economy. Official Jewish groups have already brought to the attention of a French diplomat in Washington the “mood of deep resentment” that prevails among their members. But they took pains to stress that it is directed against President Charles de Gaulle, who made the embargo decision without consulting his government, and not against the French people.

Some 200 members from 156 of the Metropolitan Region, United Synagogue of America Conservative congregations declared at an emergency meeting here today that they would “marshal all of the forces at our command to achieve effective reaction against French trade, commerce and travel” until the embargo is lifted. A boycott seems to be developing among some Jewish groups against travel to France or the use of French carriers. The immediate victim appears to be Air France, a major international airline that serves Europe and Israel as well as such nearby winter resorts as Mexico and the Caribbean. Unconfirmed reports say that numerous cancellations have hit Air France since the de Gaulle embargo was announced last week. The B’nai B’rith travel service is discontinuing French tours previously offered, and other Jewish organizations that sponsor group tours to Europe and Israel have reportedly eliminated France from their itineraries.

A delegation representing major American Jewish organizations visited the French Ambassador, Charles Lucet, in Washington on Friday. The group, headed by Herman Edelsberg, director of B’nai B’rith’s international affairs department, said the groups were not sponsoring a boycott of France but had no interest in suppressing it. M. Lucet reportedly indicated surprise at the intensity of feeling reported by the delegation. He was told that the latest embargo against Israel would not only be a disservice to the cause of peace but promoted the Soviet role in the Middle East. The group said that American Jewry still regarded the French people as sincere friends but that Gen. de Gaulle’s policies had strained feelings toward France as a nation. The delegation included representatives of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S. the American Jewish Committee, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform), National Council of Jewish Women and American Jewish Congress.

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