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B’nai B’rith District Calls for Probe into Possible Boycott Against Israel by Pepsico

The 2600 delegates at the 119th annual convention of B’nai B’rith District 3 representing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia, called yesterday for an immediate investigation by the organization of an alleged boycott by Pepsico, makers of Pepsi-Cola, against the State of Israel. The group adopted a resolution calling for a “forceful directive to be obtained from Pepsico to provide a clear and concise declaration as to whether or not it is in fact engaged in an economic boycott of the State of Israel.” Norman Buckner of Philadelphia, District 3 executive director, stated that he had a meeting and a number of written exchanges with executives of Pepsico. The discussion occurred after Pepsico “equivocated” on a franchise request for a bottling plant in Israel by a major St. Louis beverage concern, according to Buckner. He stated that in his exchanges with the Pepsico company, they offered as an explanation for their failure to have a bottling plant in Israel the fact that their marketing research in that country was incomplete. Pepsico franchises Pepsi-Cola beverages, owns and operates North American Van Lines, Wilson Sporting Goods and Frito-Lay products.

Benjamin R. Epstein, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith told the delegates that recently emigrated Soviet Jews believe that the actions of the Jewish Defense League can impede the flow of emigration. He said that during his recent trip to Israel the numerous Soviet Jews expressed the hope that the ADL would be able to curb the activities of the JDL. Epstein also told the convention that “the conscience of the world should not be lulled by the action of the Soviet Union in permitting a limited number of its Jews to leave for Israel.” Perry J. Shertz, who was elected president of B’nai B’rith District 3, called upon national and community Jewish organizations to pool their resources to make available personnel and educational materials for young and alienated Jews so they can return to Jewish identity and activities. “We cannot afford another holocaust to gain commitment,” said the 43-year-old Wilkes, Barre attorney. “Young people are dissatisfied with our cumbersomeness, with our institutionalized impersonality and most of all with our priorities,” The convention urged Secretary of State William P. Rogers and USIA director Frank Shakespeare to divert funds from the defunct Radio Free-Europe CIA program and use the funds on Yiddish-language broadcasts over the Voice of America to the more than three million Jews in the Soviet Union. In other action, the convention urged President Nixon to approve Premier Golda Meir’s request for additional arms in view of the drastic alteration of the Mideast balance of power resulting from the 15 year Cairo-Moscow pact.

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