PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 5)
Arrangements for a limited sanctuary for draft resisters and deserters from the armed forces, acting for reasons of conscience, became effective today at the Hillel Foundation house at the University of Pennsylvania. The development was reported to be the first of its kind in any Hillel Foundation in the United States. Rabbi Samuel Berkowitz. Hillel director, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the proposal stemmed from several months of discussion among members of the Hillel student executive council which approved the idea after conducting a referendum among the 3,500 Jewish students at the university. He said the idea received overwhelming approval among the 511 students who voted in the referendum.
In announcing the plan, the students used the Hebrew word “Miklat,” with the description “nonviolent draft sanctuary,” to describe the nature of the refuge. The statement of the student executive council emphasized that there would be no resistance, “violent or non-violent” to “the entry and function of law enforcement officials attempting to discharge their official duties, on the part of the draft resister, his supporters, or any official of the Hillel Foundation.”
Rabbi Berkowitz said that the student executive, in setting up the “Miklat,” hoped to give a concerned draft resister or soldier absent without leave “an opportunity to publicly demonstrate his moral opposition to the draft or to the war in Vietnam.” The statement added that “as student representatives of a religious organization, the student executive of the Hillel Foundation is deeply concerned with the moral implications of these issues and believes that it in not only its right but its duty to declare the Hillel house a ‘Miklat.’ The student executive plans to take every step necessary to keep the Miklat’ within the federal law.”
The statement added that the “Miklat” would “in no way give a draft resister immunity from the law or arrest. After the resister is formally received into the ‘Miklat,’ a registered letter will be sent to federal authorities informing them that a draft resister is in the Hillel ‘Miklat.’ Members of the university community will be able to sit and talk with the resister until he is arrested.”