Goldmann Under Heavy Attack for Recent Media Interviews
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Goldmann Under Heavy Attack for Recent Media Interviews

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Only three weeks before the opening in Jerusalem of the sixth plenary assembly of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, WJC president, found himself embroiled today in one of the most bitter controversies of his long career in Jewish affairs. The storm centers around recent interviews with Dr. Goldmann published in the Paris newspaper Le Monde and other media in which the 80-year-old one-time president of the World Zionist Organization indicated that he believed Israel should, and indeed eventually will have to, negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Dr. Goldmann also disclosed several attempts by third parties to arrange a meeting between himself and PLO chief Yasir Arafat which he said came to naught because Israeli government leaders objected and he, Goldmann, would never undertake initiatives concerning Israel without its specific approval.

Dr. Goldmann’s critics here and abroad charged that the views he expressed, given his stature as president of the WJC, were dangerous and detrimental to Israel’s political interests and national security. Dr. Goldmann retorted by claiming, in interviews with the Paris correspondents of Maariv and Yediot Achronot that he felt free to express his views on political moves of the Israeli government and that in fact “I have said no more than Ben Aharon, Liova Eliav or Abba Eban have said in the past.”

He was referring to Yitzhak Ben Aharon, former Secretary General of Histadrut, Aryeh Eliav, former Secretary General of the Labor Party both known for their outspoken “doveish” views on Israeli foreign policy, and Israel’s former Foreign Minister.


Both Eban and Eliav issued statements yesterday flatly denying Dr. Goldmann’s intimations that they had once favored contacts with the PLO Eban said: “I was always against negotiations with the PLO and with Arafat.” He said his view was that Israel should seek contact with Palestinians who hold views directly opposite to those of the PLO which seeks the destruction of Israel.

Eliav said he supported the idea that Israel should make it clear that it would meet with any Palestinian organization which states beforehand that it will recognize Israel, rejects the PLO charter calling for the conversion of Israel into a Palestinian state, and which rejects terrorist methods. Obviously, the PLO will make no such declaration and there can be no negotiation with it, Eliav declared.


Goldmann’s interview in Le Monde, published Jan. 8 (see JTA Daily News Bulletin Jan. 10), brought a flood of protesting letters, to that newspaper from prominent French-Jewish leaders and a prompt disclaimer by the WJC in Paris that Dr. Goldmann was expressing the views of that organization. Yesterday Le Monde published a letter from Salomon Friedrich, associate member of the World Jewish Congress Executive, declaring: “It is inadmissable that Dr. Goldmann be allowed to continue to preside over the WJC or any other Jewish organization in the name of which he seems to be speaking when he expresses opinions so dangerous for the future of the Jewish population.”

Andre Monteil, president of the France-Israel Alliance, sent a letter to the Israeli Ambassador in Paris, Asher Ben Natan, saying, “This situation is intolerable….The scandalous attitude of Mr. Goldmann is capable of damaging the efficiency of our action.” Jean Plerre Bloch, a member of the France-Israel Alliance steering committee, claimed that Dr. Goldmann’s statements were “at best misguided.”

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