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Herzog Says His Remarks About U.S. Jews Were Taken out of Context

Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his remarks last Friday, that the reactions of American and world Jewry were an inadequate response to the gravity of the anti-Zionist resolution adopted by the United Nations Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee a week ago, were quoted out of context and with the wrong emphasis.

Herzog, quoted as telling a meeting here of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that “The Jews were comparatively passive on this issue, and, in my view, failing in their duty as Jews,” told the JTA that his criticism was directed at the Jewish man-in-the-street both in New York and in Israel and not at the American Jewish leadership.

Asserting that he was quoted out of context, Herzog said: “As a result, a meaning contrary to what I wished to convey has been understood. Let me make it quite clear the Jewish leadership was fully aware at all times of the implications of the sinister resolution introduced by the Arabs in the Third Committee and reacted accordingly.

“In particular, I wish to pay tribute in this respect to Rabbi (Israel) Miller (chairman of the Presidents Conference). In my remarks, I questioned whether the ordinary Jew in the street had indeed grasped the full significance of this new attack against Jewry. I did so because I felt from my observations that the man-in-the-street reaction in New York and in Israel was such to indicate that the danger inherent in this new attack was not readily appreciated.

“I felt it was important to sound the alarm, to explain the significance of the attack and to exhort Jews wherever they may be to renewed efforts to combat this danger.

‘WHERE WERE THE JEWISH PEOPLE?’

In his address to the Presidents Conference, his first to that group as Ambassador, Herzog asserted that Jews generally failed to respond properly to this “malicious resolution” because “they did not appreciate the dangers to the Jewish people inherent in this resolution.” He called the resolution “the first major international attack of anti-Semitism since the day of Hitler.” adding,

Herzog, in his critique, declared also that “what happened in the Jewish world, on what did not happen, is what must exercise every thinking member of the Jewish community today. Do you really believe that the reaction in this greatest Jewish center in the world (New York) answers the requirements of the hour?”

HITS ISRAELI REACTIONS

Herzog also was critical of the public reaction in Israel to the anti-Zionist draft vote. He said “the media in Israel paid comparatively scant attention” to the issue, adding that “they were busy reporting the antics of Yehoshua Peretz,” chief of the Ashdod port stevedores, “when our enemies were and are planning that Ashdod should not exist.” He said Israeli workers were striking against the government “while the elimination of Israel and its government is being planned and this resolution is part of the plan.”

Referring to Arab anti-Semitism as “one of the most violent forms of racism,” Herzog warned that this might “destroy the United Nations and much else.” He said “I think it is time that world Jewry appreciate the dangers that threaten it and mobilized and displayed itself to meet them and thwart our enemies.” He said Jews have learned from the past that they cannot ignore this modern anti-Semitism and, for the sake of future Jewish generations, they must speak out “against this new international outburst of anti-Semitism.”

JEWISH COMMUNITY HAS BEEN ALERT

Rabbi Miller, in a statement issued after the Herzog address, declared that “the American Jewish community has been alert to the dangers of the anti-Zionist resolution at the United Nations and has mobilized its constituency and its friends in support of the position expressed by our government.”

Rabbi Miller also said that “even before the United States spokesman made clear the United States position” before and after the Third Committee vote, “the Conference of Presidents and its constituents were actively engaged–and remain so–in public statements and private representations giving voice to the Jewish community’s indignation at the immoral assault on Zionism and to our recognition of the dangers it poses.”

Continuing, Rabbi Miller stated: “In our own public statement, we called it by name–anti-Semitism–and we warned it was ‘an attack against the State of Israel, against the Jewish religion, against the Jewish people…an assault against the values of decency and civilization that all Americans cherish…a horrifying reminder of the Nazi campaign that began with words of hate and ended with acts of extermination.”

Rabbi Miller said “We were therefore deeply heartened when our own government, speaking for all Americans, including the Jewish community, called the resolution ‘an obscene act.!”

A few participants at the meeting, among them Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, and editor Marie Syrkin, said in a question and answer period after Herzog’s speech that they agreed with Herzog’s criticism of the response of American Jewry, before and after approval of the Third Committee resolution, as inadequate.

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