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Eshkol’s Conference Says Aliyah, Jewish Education Should Be Top Diaspora Priority

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s conference of world Jewish leaders ended yesterday with 160 delegates representing communities and organizations in 26 countries concurring in a statement asserting that aliyah — immigration to Israel — and Jewish education should be given top priority in the concerns of Jews outside Israel. Mr. Eshkol, who addressed the closing session, took issue with some speakers who had referred to “two parts” of the Jewish people — those in Israel and in the diaspora. He argued that such a distinction was “purely geographical” and “somewhat damaging,” insisted that there was “only one Jewish people,” and urged a doubling of immigration from the free world in the next 30 years.

The conference was the second of three international gatherings called by Mr. Eshkol within the framework of Israel’s 20th anniversary year. The first, a world Jewish economic conference, convened last June. An international conference on the mobilization of resources to meet Israel’s needs is scheduled for this June. The delegates were also addressed by Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon who declared that Israel would not budge from the present cease-fire lines without a formal peace treaty negotiated with the Arabs. Apparently rejecting current Soviet and French moves for a Four Power initiative in the Middle East, Gen. Allon warned that temporary arrangements with the Arabs would only lead to another war.

The conference’s closing statement was not presented in the form of a resolution on which the delegates could vote but as a consensus. There were no dissenting voices. However, five American organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, said they would have to present the key passage on aliyah to their respective governing bodies. That passage said the conference regarded “aliyah from all parts of the world as the responsibility of the whole Jewish people” and called on all communities, synagogues and Jewish organizations to establish special aliyah committees to promote the movement. The conference also said priority should be given in raising and allocating funds to the strengthening of Jewish education without ideological interference, to strengthening of youth activities and enhancement of the status of Jewish teachers and improvement of their working conditions.

At an earlier session, the conference heard a report from Dr. Benjamin Eliav, a Government official and authority on Soviet affairs, who said Moscow’s anti-Israel campaign had degenerated into the crudest form of anti-Semitism but protests against it by Jews and others in the free world had prevented any large scale persecution of Russian Jews. Dr. Eliav said there was evidence of the existence of a special center in the Soviet Union for the dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda.

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