NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 12)
Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, declared here that the Yom Kippur War was “not only the most costly, but the most heroic” Israel ever faced and stressed that the Jewish State “is not ashamed of the fact that we accepted the cease-fire, even while its forces were winning, in order to prevent further loss of life.” in a remarkably frank and blunt address at the opening plenary session of the four-day 42nd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds which ended yesterday, Dinitz stated that Israel was caught by surprise on Oct. 6 because “we mistook quiet for peace.” But, he added, the American Jewish community was also caught by surprise, and for the same reason. The apparent absence of any military activity on the part of the Arabs lulled Israel and the Jewish community in this country into a false sense of security. The lesson that has to be drawn from this, he said, is that neither Israel or American Jews can ever again afford the luxury of mistaking quiet for peace. “Israel must be as strong in peace as it is in war,” Dinitz stated.
He said that “for a people who have lost one-third of its members to the Nazis, and of the survivors half are behind the Iron Curtain, there are no words to describe our bereavement and sadness.” He said he was greatly encouraged by the arrangements of the peace proposal that had been given to Israeli Premier Golda Meir by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco late Wednesday night after talks were concluded in Cairo the same day between Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Dinitz said that the anticipated arrangements, which he described as steps “designed to help preserve the cease-fire,” represented a new, difficult and perhaps hopeful road for Israel.” Referring to one of the points–a UN supervised corridor to permit the supply of food to the encircled Egyptian Third Army–he emphasized that Israel had never sought to destroy the army and never objected to permitting the army to be fed. He indicated that Israel only objected to the possible re-arming of the Third Army by the Soviet Union.
He reminded the audience that the “hopeful road for Israel” confronts the Jewish State with an array of adversaries, including the Soviet Union, the Arab states and European and African nations who are “unfriendly or at best neutral.” He called upon the CJF delegates to “tell the true story of Israel’s security needs and moral position” to the American public and to caution against “surrender to Arab blackmail” in an attempt to exploit the energy crisis here. He strongly praised the American government for its “critically essential re-supply of Israel’s weapons during the Yom Kippur War.” The audience responded with prolonged applause when he singled out The Netherlands for special praise for having supported the people of Israel at a time when other European nations did not, despite hardships resulting from Arab sanctions against Holland.
Dinitz also called on American Jews to continue their support of humanitarian programs in Israel, which, he said, the Israelis cannot provide during this period, through Jewish Federation and Welfare Fund support of the United Jewish Appeal. He concluded by stating, “Don’t only help us to be strong, but to be understood so that some day we may rise to a better world,” and expressed hope that permanent peace would come to Israel, the entire Middle East, and the world.
Max M. Fisher, immediate past president of the CJFWF, and chairman of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, stressed that “Israel needs to be militarily strong” and urged support for Congressional approval of President Nixon’s request for $2.2 billion in emergency aid for Israel. He suggested that such aid be in the form of an outright grant to Israel rather than the sale of arms. The bill, as drafted, provides that the President can, at his discretion, decide whether such aid can be in the form of an outright grant, Fisher stated. He warmly commended the present Administration for having provided Israel with massive re-supply of arms during and since the war, and urged the audience to give support “to both the Administration and to an overwhelmingly friendly Congress.” Fisher also underscored that attempts by the Arabs to use the energy crisis, which began before the present conflict, were the basis for a propaganda of hate against both Israel and the Jewish people. “By their oil embargo the Arabs have made Americans realize that we must be self-sufficient in energy supply,” Fisher stated. He expressed the belief that the American government will “not allow itself to surrender to blackmail.”
Raymond Epstein of Chicago, CJF president and chairman of the session, stated that the task of the delegates would be to assess the crisis in the Middle East and its implications for North American Jewish communities in terms of responsibilities and commitments. The primary concern of the sessions during the four-day convention, he added, would be to assess the 1974 Federation campaigns, launched before the war, in order to assure that the unprecedented pace and commitment stirred by developments in the Middle East would be maintained.