Ncrac Leaders Warn Jewish Community Net to Become Isolated from Social Issues

Two leaders of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council warned the organized American Jewish community today not to allow its “priority concerns” of Israel and Soviet Jewry to Isolate it from the grave social problems confronting America. The warning was contained in addresses by Albert E. Arent of Washington, D.C. newly re-elected chairman of the NCRAC, and his immediate predecessor. Jordan C. Band, to 250 representatives of the Council’s 90 constituent organizations attending the NCRAC’s annual plenary meeting here. Both drew a distinction between emphasizing “top priority” a category in which each planed the-issues-of the Middle East and Soviet Jewry–and treating them as “pre-emptive concerns” which Arent and Band said, tend to separate Jewish activity from the mainstream of American life. Arent deplored the fact that “too many Jews seem prepared to withdraw into an exclusive Jewish particularism.” Community relations, he told the gathering, “is the recruitment of allies.” He said “it would be arrogance” for the Jewish community “to imagine that we can effectively communicate with our fellow Americans” in seeking public support for Israel and Soviet Jews while remaining indifferent to “crucial national problems.”

Band similarly urged the NCRAC constituents to become more actively involved in the problems of urban decay, crime, drug abuse, poverty and ecology. The plenary meeting explored a number of such issues. A proposed policy statement calling for “immediate” American withdrawal from Vietnam–long a divisive issue among NCRAC agencies–produced a compromise resolution calling for withdrawal “at the earliest possible date, and pending that time, immediate steps by our government to initiate a cease-fire and steps to ensure free elections in South Vietnam.” In another action in which only the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America dissented, the plenary reaffirmed its opposition to tax-supported sectarian-sponsored education. A policy declaration on civil liberties condemned secret data gathering by government agencies on the personal habits and political views and activities of private citizens. The declaration warned of a threat of “classier dictatorship” posed by the uncontrolled collection of such data and expressed strong opposition to the government’s use of computerized data banks to store information on private citizens, “unless they are severely limited as to purpose, content and use.” The NCRAC plenary opened Thursday and will close tonight.

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