Peace in Mideast, Revitalized American Zionism, Main Priorities of Azf Convention
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Peace in Mideast, Revitalized American Zionism, Main Priorities of Azf Convention

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Itzhak Rabin. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, warned last night that the greatest threat to Israel’s future is not the continuing hostility of the Arab states but the possibility of a “direct face-off” with the Soviet Union. Speaking at the founding convention of the American Zionist Federation, Mr. Rabin told the more than 1000 delegates in attendance that the free world should not indulge in “wishful thinking” about the goals and ambitions of the Russians in the Middle East. He warned that peace between Israel and her neighbors is impossible as long as the Soviet Union is involved. “The main roadblock to peace is the Soviet Union,” he declared. “Without Russia’s effort to prevent peace, I’m sure there would have been peace in a relatively short time after the Six Day War.” In an address on Zionist ideology, Avraham Schenker, head of the organization and information department of the World Zionist Organization, said that the call of the AZF to American Jews to Join its ranks “is a clear answer in terms of solidarity with Israel by 700,000 organized American Zionists.” Mr. Schenker declared that the State of Israel “is a Zionist creation and is motivated by this Zionist approach.” He asserted that “Zionism is anti-imperialist in its history and its world outlook. It has never sought to exploit the Arabs but only to provide an example of social change, self-development, and brotherhood.” He added that aliya is the “core of Zionism,” and that it underlies both the tactics and strategy of the Zionist movement.

Jacques Torczyner, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the convention that the Zionist movement must “now go out among the American people and get support from both political parties” to aid Israel in her struggle for survival. He said the U.S. Government is “involved in external and internal problems and has not taken a clear position in the Middle East.” Dr. Emanuel Neumann, chairman of the Jewish Agency American Section, citing Soviet advances in the Middle East, said, “In this fateful moment, it is our duty as Americans to raise our voices and warn against an American ‘do-nothing’ policy in the face of the extreme dangers looming ahead in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not Israel that is at stake but the vital interest of the United States, western democracies and the free world.” He asserted that the Soviet program is “to achieve military control of the entire Middle East.”


Earlier, during the four day convention, Dr. Judah Shapiro, former national director of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, said that “Zionism must break out of its irrelevant pattern of conformity and must undertake to be the most meddling and interfering Jewish association within the Jewish community.” Declaring that “consensus for the sake of fund-raising is the kiss of death,” Dr. Shapiro asserted: “It is not for Zionists to stay within the perimeter of Zionist organizational activities, but on the contrary to move out from the Zionist reservations into the whole of the Jewish community to exercise influence and exert their will on every phase of Jewish communal enterprise.” I. L. Kenen, executive director of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and editor of Near East Report, advised the convention that “The Middle East is headed for catastrophe unless the U.S. and other Western powers move swiftly to re-enforce Israel’s defenses and take action necessary to condemn and deter the Soviet Union’s open involvement in Egypt’s war of attrition.”

Dr. Seymour P. Lachman, a member of the New York City Board of Education, focusing on “the alienation and estrangement of many of our brightest and most articulate young men and women,” said “Israel must come to symbolize in the minds and hearts of our youth what she is in reality – a nation striving and yearning for peace, social justice, learning and brotherhood.” Dr. Arnulf Pins, chairman of the American Zionist Youth Foundation, asserted that “We should be encouraged and pleased that Jewish youth is confronting and criticizing the Jewish community and Zionist activity.” That attitude shows, he said, “that they care and want to become involved” and want to make Judaism and Zionism “more relevant” to the times. Youth played a leading role at the founding convention. The more than 1000 delegates approved, frequently with considerable discussion, a number of resolutions the student and youth group representatives presented. One of their most important victories was a directive to the incoming executive committee to coopt three additional young people with full voting rights on the executive committee.

The American Zionist Federation has been established to coordinate major Zionist activities in this country. The AZF will include the 13 adult and some dozen youth Zionist grouping, each retaining its identity and independent status within the umbrella organization. It will allow direct membership affiliation with the Zionist movement and is open to all groups and individuals. In its statement of principles, the AZF asserts: “Jews the world over are one people, united by a common history, heritage and destiny in Israel as a center of Jewish life everywhere.” Rabbi Israel Miller, assistant to the president of Yeshiva University, was elected president of the AZF. Mr. Torczyner was elected chairman of the national board. Mrs. Max N. Matzkin, national chairman of the Zionist Affairs Department of Hadassah, was elected chairman of the executive committee.

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