Washington (Jul. 19)
Israel Embassy officials told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that Israel “opposes all boycotts and all terror” and “could not possibly endorse the use of such methods to express displeasure with the policies of another country,” especially as Israel is the target of extensive boycotts by the Arab states. The officials were commenting on the controversy between the Southern California Council for Soviet Jewry and the May Co., a Los Angeles department store which has been selling tours to the Soviet Union. The Council has urged a boycott of the May Co, and of all travel agencies marketing Russian tours as a means of protesting against the mistreatment of Soviet Jews.
(George Foos, president of the May Co., has sent letters to customers who have complained about the marketing of such tours stating that both the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and Israel Government representatives in Los Angeles and Washington “have explained to us that they are in complete disagreement with both the actions and the attitudes of the Southern California Council for Soviet Jewry.” According to S1 Frumkin, chairman of the SCCSJ, “this claim was categorically denied by Israeli consular and embassy officials who were ‘horrified’ at the suggestion that they had at any time meddled in what they consider ‘the internal affairs of the United States.’ ” Frumkin said a spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles denied ever having been consulted by the May Co, on this subject and stressed that he would not have been in a position to advise the May Co.) Officials at the Israeli Embassy here told the JTA that while they oppose the use of boycott tactics they do not recall being in contact with Foos.
(Richard Maass, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry in New York, told the JTA that the Conference generally does not favor boycotts as a matter of policy because they could be counter-productive. He said the Conference believed in maximizing contacts with the Soviet Union because “If we isolate the Russians, we also isolate the Russian Jews.” Charles Posner, executive director of the Community Relations Council of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation told the JTA in a telephone interview today that the Federation was “unalterably opposed to boycotts.” He also explained why the Federation Council did not participate in certain demonstrations organized by the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews. In a press release issued last week, Frumkin accused Posner of “playing lip-service to Soviet Jewry” while refusing to join in demonstrations during local performances of the Molseyev Ballet Co, and in a campaign to send greeting cards to Soviet Jews. Posner told the JTA that the Federation had its own program of activities on behalf of Soviet Jews but could not participate in any which seemed likely to create disturbances. He said the Federation followed the advice of two recent Jewish visitors from the USSR, Dr. Esther Eisenstadt, a former professor in Moscow and Mrs. Rivka Aleksandrovich, mother of Ruth Aleksandrovich, a Jewish political prisoner in the USSR. He said both called for constructive, positive protests, not confrontations that could lead to disturbances. He said Mrs. Aleksandrovich stressed that doors must be kept open to the Soviet Union. He said his organization objected to the greeting card campaign because the list obtained by the Southern California Council for Soviet Jewry contained the names of persons who had in no way ever indicated that they wanted to receive cards and that these persons could have been harmed by receiving them. He termed the Council a “dissident” organization. Posner said that the Federation had a major program of its own to call attention to the plight of Soviet Jews. He said this included a dally vigil to start in August and continue through Simchat Torah on behalf of Jews imprisoned in the USSR. The Los Angeles Jewish Federation is a constituent of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry through its affiliation with the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council.)