Speakers at AJCommittee Annual Meeting Call for Aid to Israel, Understanding of Jews

Professor Nadav Safran of Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies warned that a critical situation "of unforeseeable consequences will develop in the Middle East unless the United States restores the balance of power in that area by providing arms, particularly airplanes, to Israel." Prof. Safran, who has served as adviser to the White House, the State Department and Congressional committees, made this prediction today in an address to the American Jewish Committee’s 64th annual meeting. Describing the entrance of Soviet personnel into the Egyptian military forces as "a potentially critical turning point in the Middle East conflict," Dr. Safran, a native of Egypt who has lived in Israel, added: "Whether or not the conflict can be kept under control and the prospects for peace preserved will depend on a clear perception of the situation by the United States and an appropriate response." Failing such response, Dr. Safran warned that "The Soviets and the Egyptians would be encouraged to believe that they can achieve what they want by intensified military pressure, meaning further Soviet involvement. This would elicit a determined Israeli response, and thus, a critical situation of unforeseeable consequences would develop in the area."

Philip E. Hoffman, President of the AJCommittee, declared that the Nixon administration’s preoccupation with Southeast Asia must not deter it from providing to Israel the "necessary materiel" that could make the difference between "Israel’s survival and her ultimate destruction." Mr. Hoffman told an audience of 1,000 persons attending the agency’s annual dinner last night, that "Israel’s destruction would be a catastrophe not only for Jews but for the entire western world. The Soviet Union, he said, "appears to be assuming a more direct and substantial role in support of the Arab world, and in the process may be transforming a regional contest into a conflict of massive and menacing dimensions." Mr. Hoffman called on American Jews to "confront and deal with the problems of our time." Jews, he said, "have something special to contribute in the way of insight and determination born of an intimate and persistent experience with bigotry and oppression. However, as a people who live each day in grateful awareness of the benefits of freedom we see our tasks and concerns as but a small part of our obligation and our opportunity to help preserve and enlarge that freedom." Moving to the domestic scene and in that connection, Mr. Hoffman said there was a need for a "new and meaningful coalition" to correct injustices in the United States, and that the Kent State College tragedy might help bring about such a coalition.

Earlier in the day, two Christian scholars – one Protestant, the other Catholic – reported that Christian church school materials are seriously lacking in information about the Nazi holocaust and about the State of Israel and its meaning for Judaism and the Jewish people. Dr. Gerald Strober, Protestant educator and consultant on religious curricula to the AJCommittee, and the Rev. John T. Pawlikowski of the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago, said the absence of such references inhibits Christians from comprehending the personal and group interests, the fears and aspirations of Jews, both in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Strober, who has studied more than 3,000 lessons prepared for Junior High, Senior High and adult students and teachers, stated that he found that less than one half of one percent of these lessons mentioned Israel in any manner, and that only one lesson in the 3,000 dealt at any length with the contemporary Jewish state. Rev. Pawlikowski observed, "The often terrible record of the relationship, of the persecutions and slaughter of the Jews by Christians through the centuries, has been systematically excluded from our courses. This silence is indefensible." Among the 3,000 lessons studied, Dr. Strober found only six that mentioned the Holocaust. Dr. Strober urged Protestant bodies to incorporate in their teaching materials information on Israel and the Holocaust. Roy Wilkins, Executive Director of the NAACP received the American Liberties Medallion, the AJCommittee’s highest award, in special ceremonies at the dinner. The award was presented by Irving M. Gngel, Honorary President of the Committee.

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