Ajcongress, ADL Criticize Vatican for Presenting Award to UNESCO

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, last night expressed “regret” that the Vatican had presented its Pope John XXIII international prize to UNESCO in Rome Saturday. Rabbi Hertzberg made his remarks to the 800 persons attending the AJCongress’ annual Stephen Wise Award Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at which Charles Bronfman of Montreal and Edgar Bronfman of New York were honored for their leadership in civic and Jewish affairs. (See separate story.)

“We are gratified that in presenting the award Pope Paul dissociated the Vatican from recent actions of UNESCO virtually ousting Israel from membership,” Rabbi Hertzberg declared. But, he added, “it is a matter of regret that the Vatican decided to go ahead with the award, despite world-wide protests, to a specialized agency of the UN that has gone out of its way to abandon its extraneous acts of political coercion and duress.”

Earlier. Rabbi Hertzberg had called upon the Vatican to withhold the award, noting that it would “be incompatible with the memory of Pope John XXIII” to present UNESCO with the award after its anti-Israel measures. In a separate action, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith had also cabled the Pope protesting the award in light of the “grievous injustice” done to Israel by UNESCO.

In his address last night, Rabbi Hertzberg hailed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for recommending last week the withholding of U.S. funds for UNESCO. He said the Committee vote “is the only credible reply to the dangerous trend in the United Nations of victimizing those nations that lie outside the currently prevailing power blocs and of distorting established UN procedures to satisfy the demands of Arab states.”

FRENCH CHIEF RABBI ISSUES PROTEST

In Paris. France’s Chief Rabbi, Jacob Kaplan. in a message to Pope Paul VI. protested the Vatican decision to grant the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize to UNESCO. Rabbi Kaplan declared prior to the award presentation that such a ceremony was “shocking under the present circumstances” and urged the Vatican to postpone the awarding of the prize.

“The French Jewish community, which does not deny the beneficent actions of UNESCO, deplores that this prize is being given just at the moment when UNESCO has taken discriminatory decisions against Israel.” he said. The French rabbi declared that he was expressing not only his own sentiment but “all the emotion of the French Jewish community”

Meanwhile, close to 2500 writers and French Journalists have signed a manifesto condemning UNESCO for its recent votes against Israel. Also. more than 200 French psychoanalysts have refused to participate in conferences organized by UNESCO.

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