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Ethnically Conscious, Committed Radical Jews Outnumber Radical Jews, Study Shows

A B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation’s study on Jewish activists on campus reports that students who define themselves as “radical Jews”–youth who though anti-establishment remain “ethnically conscious and committed”–“far out-number” Jewish radicals who disavow any ties or loyalties to traditional Jewish causes. And while this newly-emerged breed firmly aligns itself on the political Left, It strongly opposes the anti-Israel and frequently anti-Jewish postures of Far Left and “Third Word” movements, The study, prepared by Rabbi Oscar Groner, Hillel Foundation’s assistant national director, was presented yesterday to B’nai B’rith’s Board of Governors, the organization’s highest public body, at its annual meeting here. It stated that young “radical Jews” and their activism–protest demonstrations in support of Israel and Soviet Jewry and demands for Jewish studies programs in college curricula–are a minority among American and Canadian Jewish college students, but added:

“They more and more reflect the sentiments and new consciousness of many of their non-marching and non-protesting Jewish peers on campus. The study said that while a small but vocal group of alienated Jewish radicals “judge and condemn Jewish values in terms of Far Left philosophies,” those who are radical about their Jewishness “Judge the political Left in terms of its stands on Jewish issues,” This positive-minded element is impatient with what it regards as “go-slow” tactics of established Jewish organizations and institutions, the study said, and has set up a structure of small, varied but interacting youth groups on and off campus. But instead of remaining apart from the Jewish community , its youth has tried to “radicalize it toward their own militant style.”

A similar view was offered at a symposium by a young Jewish activist who said that many liberally oriented Jewish youths have been “shocked, disappointed and disillusioned” by the anti Israel and anti Jewish positions of far left movements Carl Gershman, 27-year old co-chairman of the Youth Committee for Peace in the Middle East, said these hostile attitudes have convinced a number of Jewish youths that “in America and throughout the world Jews have nobody to depend upon but themselves.” He urged Jewish youth who “Identify with progressive Jewish traditions” not to isolate themselves from the non Jewish campus community and instead seek a coalition on issues such as Israel with “the liberal center on campus, the mainstream of moderate and forward-looking students who constitute the majority.” But Mr. Gershman added that they “should not try to appeal to hostile groups such as the Black Panthers or the remnants of Students for a Democratic Society. These people cannot be won over.”

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