Educator Says Jewish Establishment is Not in Leadership Position

“The present American Jewish Establishment…is not in a leadership position on any of the major issues,” it was charged here by Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, author, historian and professor at the School for Jewish Communal Science of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. Speaking at the four-day 73rd annual conference of the National Conference of Jewish Communal Service which ended yesterday, Dr. Shapiro declared that “in the last quarter century, it (the “Establishment”) has been consistently wrong in its opposition to ideas and those who expounded them.” It was wrong, he declared, on Zionism, on the State of Israel; on Soviet Jewry, on Jewish education and youth, and “it was wrong in its acceptance of what was supportable by the rich as the equivalence of a system of formative Judaism.” Discussing “The American Jewish Establishment: Is It Doing Its Job?” the veteran educator observed that “there is really no necessarily pejorative connotation to the term ‘Establishment,’ nor to its companion term ‘Bureaucracy.’” But, he said, “we should address ourselves not to the right of existence of an Establishment, but the critical look at whether or not its effectiveness justifies its present incumbents.” In that context, he continued, there is “the unassailable fact that one cannot ever ascertain what is real among the people from the Establishment and its activity or commitments.” It is, he charged, not a leader, “a reluctant follower and a yielder.”

The National Conference adopted a resolution which welcomed “President Nixon’s decision…to provide Israel with the military equipment needed to defend herself.” But it cautioned the administration to “desist from a policy that would substitute international ‘guarantees,’ which failed in the past, for a real (negotiated) peace.” The Conference deplored the “intolerable situation” of Jews in Arab countries, and urged the United States, Canada and the United Nations to help alleviate their plight. Another resolution recommended “immediate” American withdrawal from Vietnam. Domestically, the Conference called on the administration to reconsider cuts in “urgent” social and rehabilitation programs; scored increased wiretapping and other electronic “invasions of privacy”; charged that “continued efforts to equate dissent from government policy with disloyalty to our country (is) a disheartening throwback to the worst days of the (Joseph) McCarthy era”; backed “the full participation in our political system by 18-year-olds,” and declared support for a minimum $6,500 annual in come for a family of four.

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