Alarm Expressed over Widespread Assimilation of South American Jewry

Members of the World Zionist Executive and its representatives dealing with South American Jewry expressed alarm here over widespread assimilation among Jews on that continent, particularly the youth, Speakers, some of whom criticized the Jewish leadership in Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Jewish population, called for stronger Zionist efforts to counter the New Left, criticized “shlihim” (Zionist emissaries) who are not steeped in Judaism and warned against increasingly successful propaganda campaigns mounted by Arabs in Latin American countries.

Yitzhak Koren, a Knesset member and leader of the Labor Zionist movement, said a million Jews in South America face the danger of assimilation; 80 percent of Jewish students in South American counties are detaching themselves from Judaism and Zionism; and in Buenos Aires there are 21,000 Jewish students but they are not engaged in any Jewish or Zionist activities.

He said that anti Semitic and anti Israel trends are spreading, and warned that unless radical measures are taken South American Jewry is likely to be completely assimilated. Koren. who visited South America recently said the Arab League was trying to exert economic pressure on local governments to change their policies toward Israel . He proposed a revision of educational methods and Zionist activities in South America and suggested the appointment of a member of the WZO Executive to reorganize efforts there.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR SHLIHIM

Betzalel Bazak said that shlihim from Israel who are not sufficiently qualified in Judaism and are closer to the New Left should be replaced. He said that while shlihim should represent all the trends within the Zionist movement. they should have one qualification in common deep personal involvement in Jewish life, He suggested that not only the younger generation but the older one as well could use assistance and guidance.

Yaacov Tsur said that despite worry about assimilation, Argentine Jewry is still vital and one expression of this was the Argentine aliya to Israel, He also criticized shlihim who; he said, thought they could achieve better results if they adopted New Left slogans, He demanded the establishment in Argentinean of “a high institute for Judaism and Zionism” to create new leadership for Argentine Jewry. Leon Dulzin, acting chairman of the WZO Executive, said the discussion would continue in mid-Jan, with a study of ways and means to encourage aliya from South America.

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