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Jewish Leaders Say Cease-fire Year Saved Lives, but Future Threats Still Exist

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Four Jewish leaders expressed satisfaction today at the absence of hostilities in the first year of the Suez Canal cease-fire, but emphasized that the future still held threats to Israel’s existence. “On the balance, the cease-fire has been a positive manifestation for Israel,” said Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation, in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today–the second day of the second year of the truce. “Soldiers are no longer losing their lives at the Suez,” he explained. “Black-bordered pictures do not appear daily in the newspapers in Israel. Failure to adhere to the original cease-fire conditions displayed the duplicity of the Egyptians and their Russian mentors to the entire world. Israel is thus strengthened in its resolve not to make peace without geographical security.” In addition, Rabbi Miller noted, “The threat of a united Arab world bent on Israel’s destruction has markedly diminished. Nasser, its central figure, is dead; the terrorists are in disarray; the Arab countries are beset by internal problems.” But the AZF leader stressed that “there are dangers in the cease-fire as well,” declaring; “The danger is always present of both Israel and Jews throughout the world relaxing and letting down their guard.

Rabbi Miller said that the continued Arab-Soviet challenge “can only be offset by Israel’s continued strength, which in turn is dependent on the United States and our support.” Finally, Rabbi Miller stated that “Israel must remain strong and vigilant while the search for peace continues, but it must be a peace with defensible borders negotiated between the parties to the conflict.” Mrs. Max Schenk, president of Hadassah, noted to the JTA that “thanks to the American peace initiative, no lives have been lost at Suez for a full year.” She said “the question now is how to keep the guns silent and people talking.” The women’s leader continued: “At the same time we are concerned lest in the euphoria we overlook the implications of the Soviet-Egyptian treaty of friendship and cooperation, which poses a threat to Israel. It is our hope that the United States will ensure that the balance of power not be tipped against Israel and that the sale of strategic arms will continue to assure Israel’s self-defense.” Eleazar Lipsky, chairman of the American Jewish Congress’ Commission on International Affairs, advised the JTA that while peace was yet to come, “at least for the past 12 months war in the Middle East has been prevented from taking its customary toll in human lives and bereavement.” He noted that “On both sides, men are alive today who would have been killed had the present agreement not been maintained.”

PEACE IS PREDICATED ON PROLONGATION OF CEASE-FIRE, AID OF PEACE-LOVING NATIONS

But Lipsky cautioned: “The complex search for new avenues toward peace is predicated upon the prolongation of the present cease-fire. It should by now be clear that no decision reached under the pressure of time limitations or political brinkmanship can ever make a contribution to the attainment of an enduring end to the conflict.” Lipsky added that “the Middle East truce can provide the necessary diplomatic space to bring about direct negotiations between the adversary parties.” He emphasized, however, that such negotiations toward a final settlement must be conducted “without big-power interference and imposed conditions.” The AJCongress official concluded: “Renewed and intensified threats by Arab leaders again demonstrate that the cease-fire will be preserved only as long as the present balance of strength in that area is preserved. To that end our own country and all peace-loving forces in the world must pledge themselves anew if the lessons and benefits of the 12-month respite in the killing are not to be squandered.” Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee, expressed to the JTA his hope that the cease-fire “may be the harbinger of a permanent peace in that area.” The absence of shooting, he stressed, “should not blind us to the fact that the entire Middle East area still seethes with unrest, and that the possibilities for peaceful development of the area without the daily threats of violence, revolution and instability are far from assured.” Hoffman urged the U.S. not to lose patience and not to press for an imposed settlement.

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