Hoffman Tells Ajcommittee’s Board of Israel’s ‘agonizing Desire for Peace’

Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee, reporting on a recent visit by top AJCommittee leaders to Israel and Europe, emphasized that Israel’s “agonizing desire for peace” continued. “Israel no longer expects an early peace. Rather, it has become aware of the power of Arab nationalism and the fatalism that supports it. On the other hand,” he said, “some Arabs seem to recognize that Israel is here to stay” He spoke at the AJCommittee national executive board’s annual meeting.

Mr. Hoffman, the first U.S. Jewish leader to visit Prime Minister Golda Meir after her recent visit to the U.S. said that her “triumphal trip produced a greater understanding of Israel’s position and an improved image in this country.” He declared, “the main problem that Israel now faces is to capitalize on the benefits of the trip.”

Asserting that “far more often than not, Jews are the first victims of a sick society.” Bertram H. Gold, AJCommittee executive vice president, told the board that the agency was involved with the needs and problems of various white ethnic groups “whose rising frustrations are feeding demagogues on the right and political opportunists on the left.”

He said the organization would consider in the hear future involvement in social problems like polluted air, water and soil, the right of privacy, the right of dissent, and hunger. Mr. Gold proposed establishment of a national Jewish welfare commission that would use the “Jewish presence in this area and help stimulate Jewish communal organizations to a greater sensitivity and awareness.”

The board called upon President Richard M.Nixon to make major changes in the bill he submitted to Congress Oct. 22 calling for a revamping of the nation’s welfare system.

In another development, a Presbyterian educator called on Protestant churches to revise teaching materials in order to present a more balanced picture of Jews, Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations. Gerald Trober, consultant on religious curriculum to the AJCommittee’s interreligious affairs department, suggested that the churches, collectively and individually, establish task forces of scholars and religious educators to carry out the revisions.

He said, “most denominations have issued statements on anti-Semitism, indicating their commitment in principle to combat this most ancient form of racism. The time is long past due to translate that theoretical commitment into practice.” President Hoffman noted that Mr. Strober’s project grew out of an earlier AJCommittee study of Protestant teaching materials conducted at Yale Divinity School by Dr. Bernhard E. Olson and published in 1963 under the title “Faith and Prejudice.”

Mr. Strober said his analysis of 3,000 church school lessons contained more than 300 texts published by 12 independent denominational groups “confirmed the hypothesis that certain Biblical and historical themes offer the potential of fostering negative attitude concerning the Jews and the Jewish religion, as well as Jewish experience.”

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