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CCAR Expresses Shock at Government Effort to Ban Vietnam Report

The Central Conference of American Rabbis agreed in principle today that it was “shocked” at the federal government’s attempt to ban publication of a classified Pentagon report on the Vietnam war and thus to “abrogate the basic principle of the First Amendment, jeopardizing freedom of the press.” Referring to the secret study published in part by the New York Times and since then by other newspapers, the Reform rabbis agreed that the study was “part of our nation’s history” in that it detailed growing American involvement in the “infamous war in Vietnam.” The American people, said the rabbis, “have a right to know what their government is doing.” They added that “the only way to end the war”–which they called a “useless, wasteful, bloody conflict”–“is to end it quickly.” They suggested a Dec. 31 deadline for an American pullout. The CCAR, meeting in convention here, also agreed in principle to bid President Nixon to establish a special committee, to include clergymen, that would consider new guidelines for the classification of government documents. The convention will vote on the formal texts of the resolutions tomorrow.

The convention, after considerable internal argument, tabled a resolution endorsing bail and a fair trial for Angela Davis, the militant black Communist who charges that her continued incarceration on gun conspiracy charges and complicity in murder is unlawful. The rabbis decided that the section on bail–contending that denial of it to Miss Davis violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”–was a legal matter that they were not competent to comment on. The convention also decided not to take a position on the question of a volunteer army. The convention also reaffirmed its 26-year-old stand against public aid to private schools, adding that it favored the establishment of Reform day schools as a base for future Jewish leadership. The only Reform day school in the country is Rodeph Sholom Congregation in New York. Rabbi Charles Kroloff, chairman of the CCAR’s church-state committee, explained: “The Jewish community is sufficiently viable to pay the bills for the education of its own children in the day schools.” But he chided the Jewish community for not making Jewish education a higher priority.

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