JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
The secretary general of the Alliance Israelite Universelle replied today to criticism of the 110 year-old organization that was implicit in remarks made last week by Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive. Mr. Pincus, speaking at the World Congress of the Alliance held here on the occasion of the centenary of the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School, suggested that the Alliance “re-think” its present activities and decide whether its chief role lay in the promotion of education for needy Jewish youth or the promotion of Jewish and Israeli consciousness among them, especially in areas like Morocco and Canada. The Alliance, founded in Paris in 1860, maintains a network of schools for Jewish children mainly in former French North Africa and Iran. Questioned by the JTA, Secretary General Eugene Weill said he thought Mr. Pincus’ remarks were the result of an “innocent misunderstanding.” He said the spreading of Jewish consciousness was a cardinal point in the Alliance program “in the countries where we operate, mainly North Africa and the Middle East.”
Asked whether Mr. Pincus might have been complaining of the absence of Zionist education when he spoke of Jewish consciousness, Mr. Weill replied that he did not think so. He stressed however that many of the Alliance’s host countries would object to a Zionist orientation. Furthermore, he said, “We can only give the children knowledge of their background and their faith.” He noted that in all Alliance schools, Hebrew is taught both as a sacred tongue and as a modern language. He quoted Prof. Rene Cassin, the Nobel Laureate who is president of the Alliance: “We want to create good Jews, good human and socially useful beings.” Mr. Weill said the Alliance welcomed Mr. Pincus’ suggestion that it “re-study” its activities. He said plans have been made for the establishment of Alliance schools in Canada where some 20,000-30,000 Jews from North Africa have settled, “but the lack of means and of local support from central bodies has obliged us to postpone this project,” he said.