NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
Jewish lay and rabbinical leaders from all over America, meeting today in an all-day emergency session at the New York Hilton Hotel sharply assailed the “blatant double standard” being applied to the question of Jerusalem by important segments of church leadership, and called for an urgent meeting with Catholic, Protestant and Moslem leaders in order to avoid a “rift” in interreligious relations. The conference was called by the Synagogue Council of America because of the sudden upsurge of activities against continued Israeli control of the Holy City, culminating in last week’s meeting of the Security Council called by Jordan on the question.
Philip M. Klutznick, former American representative to the United Nations, told the conference that “any effort made by force or sanctions to divide Jerusalem once more will undoubtedly be met by force.” He said that the approach to a settlement of the Jerusalem problem he favored was to first delineate the boundaries of Jerusalem including the old, the new and the suburbs, and second to accept the sovereignty of Israel over this city in view of its demonstrated capacity to effectively administer without discrimination. He added “one condition”–that arrangements be perfected to permit whomever the Moslems or Christians designate to have hegemony over their respective holy places with Israel supplying police protection and general welfare facilities.
Rabbi Henry Siegman, executive vice-president of the Synagogue Council of America, called the question of Jerusalem a “perfect illustration of how the Christian theological bias makes hollow any insistence within Christian leadership that the Middle East situation is to be assessed on strictly political and moral grounds.” He pointed out that Jordan’s annexation of East Jerusalem 19 years ago and its “wanton desecration of virtually every Jewish shrine” evoked no outcry from Christians, but now that control has reverted to the Israelis and all shrines have become completely accessible to all faiths, “the Jewish presence is considered offensive.”
Rabbi Irving Lehrman, Miami Beach, president of the Synagogue Council of America, announced that he had issued invitations to Protestant, Catholic and Moslem leaders to participate in a fraternal discussion of our respective associations with Jerusalem and expressed my hope that this discussion “will lead to a deeper and more respectful understanding of our respective involvements.” He assailed the “ever-increasing crescendo of statements among political and religious world leaders” that because of the special character of Jerusalem, the Israelis cannot provide for its protection and well-being.