B’nai Zion Leaders Hail Steps to Establish New American Zionist Federation
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B’nai Zion Leaders Hail Steps to Establish New American Zionist Federation

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Two leaders of B’nai Zion, American Zionist fraternal organization, today hailed the preliminary steps under way to form a new American Zionist Federation to replace the present American Zionist Council. Raymond M. Patt, re-elected national president for a third term, and Nathaniel S. Rothenberg, general counsel, addressed the group’s 60th annual national convention here.

Mr. Rothenberg. who is B’nai Zion representative on the Council and a vice chairman of it. told the convention that the proposed Federation would be established in line with the decision of the last World Zionist Congress. He said, “Such a Federation, while not affecting the autonomy of the various member organizations, will be wider in scope than the present Council and will allocate to the various constituent organizations, by popular vote or otherwise, their seats in the World Zionist Congress.”

As part of its 60th anniversary program, B’nai Zion will seek to enlarge its affiliated membership, beginning this fall. During the past year, its membership has increased substantially, according to Herman Z. Quittman, re-elected national secretary, and Maurice Rosenbaum, national membership chairman.

Israel cannot withdraw from the occupied territories it gained in the Six-Day War without a definite peace agreement, Rear Admiral Shlomo Erel, commander of the Israel Navy, told the convention. “If we withdraw without a peace agreement, it will bring the possibility of war in the Mideast much closer,” he asserted. “We feel that by holding these territories pending a peace settlement, we have set up a deterrent to possible warfare. In reality, another war does not depend on what we do; rather it depends on Arab feelings. If they feel they can win, then there will be war.”


In sharp criticism of what he termed “dangerous contradictions and parallels in United States foreign policy regarding Vietnam and the Middle East,” Theodore C. Sorenson, former advisor to the late President John F. Kennedy, told the convention that “the worst foreign policy mistake of President Richard M. Nixon’s first year on his own in the White House may well be his effort to Americanize the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.”

Mr. Sorenson said that the failure to realize that “we are neither omnipotent nor omniscient and need not be and cannot be omnipresent–this same misconception that America has an obligation to be directly involved in all trouble spots if we are not to be isolationists–underlies our present mistaken effort to have the Four Powers prepare a Middle East peace package that they have no business preparing.” He said he agreed with the Administration that “a renewal of the war in the Middle East could possibly drag in the U.S.,” but, he said, the nation’s effort to negotiate a settlement for the Mideast against the wishes of Israel could not come before “our obligation to negotiate a settlement for ourselves in Vietnam.”

He declared that the U.S. “does have a role to play in the Middle East. We need not stand aloof and watch the status quo deteriorate. We need not rest our hopes for peace on an unstable arms race and a pattern of attack and reprisal. We can be of assistance, not by helping to prepare a Big Four (U.S., Russia, France and Britain) package–for two of the Four are not really ‘so big’ and their pack age has more liabilities than assets–but by working primarily with the Soviet Union, the one real power in the area whose interests cannot be excluded, even while we hope to minimize its presence, to help the parties settle this themselves.”

Bernard Katzen, who has served as a special consultant to the Republican National Committee, voiced support for the Big Four talks and the U.S.-Soviet bilateral meetings in Washington on the Mideast, but only on the condition “that they will not result in any imposed solution, overt or covert, and that they will lead ultimately to direct peace talks.” He voiced confidence that Mr. Nixon, the State Department and Congress “have a full understanding of the Soviet threat in the Mideast.”

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