Pincus Assails CCAR Rabbis for Criticisms of Israel, American Jewry

Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency, bitterly assailed today two prominent American Reform rabbis who last week denounced Zionist bodies which they said “openly and officially embrace America’s most reactionary politician who would betray Israel overnight if it suited their purposes.” In lashing out at Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbi David Polish, his successor, Pincus in effect argued that whatever means were used to ensure Israel’s survival were justified by the ends. Rabbis Gittelsohn and Polish voiced their criticism of the Zionist leadership and certain aspects of the American Jewish establishment in a joint message to the 82nd annual convention of the CCAR in St. Louis last week. Pincus, obviously stung, quoted the rabbis’ remarks from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s bulletin published in New York June 23. He noted that the CCAR leaders had levelled the charge that the American Jewish community, re-enforced by its “Israel-oriented establishment, was the greatest culprit” in suppressing dissent. He also quoted the rabbis as saying that while the American Jewish community has amply demonstrated its impassioned concern for Israel, this concern rarely rises above the adulation for Israel’s power” which by itself “can result in a Jewry which is dangerously self-deceived, arrogant, desensitized and ultimately a danger to Israel itself.”

Pincus angrily rejected the charge that Israel stifled dissent. “If the (pro-Moscow Rakach) Communists and Haolam Hazeh members sit in the Israeli Parliament, don’t come and teach the Israelis what the right of dissent is,” he said at a plenary meeting of the Zionist General Council today. Pincus said, “Because the leaders of Israel and the Presidents’ Conference (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) have said that we must at least have the kind of weapon that will give us a fair chance to come out victorious…that is designated as Zionist bodies only and officially embracing reactionary politicians.” He said, “Without mentioning names, I want to quote what a gentleman from the same group (as that of Rabbis Gittelsohn and Polish) said in a private conversation to the Prime Minister: ‘We do not like your friends. We are left of center.’ So, he was asked, ‘who are your friends?’ He said, ‘the liberals,’ to which the Prime Minister replied, ‘have you any liberals who can supply us with Phantoms? My business as Prime Minister is to ensure that we have Phantoms and that we have the answers to missiles and that if we are going to lose lives in the next war we have a chance to win.’” Pincus claimed that Zionists must accept such priorities for Israel’s sake. He said Zionist leaders who felt ideological doubts should voice them at meetings of the Executive. “But once the chips are down on this issue of the physical survival of Israel upon which the continuity and spirit of Jewry depend according to our Zionist outlook, then Zionists must accept it.” he declared.

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