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B’nai B’rith Denies Role in PLO Meeting; Ajcongress Staff Member Who Attended is Given Reprimand

David M. Blumberg, president of B’nai B’rith denied today that his organization was “in any way” involved in a meeting with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization “or had any prior knowledge of such a meeting.” He added that “B’nai B’rith was not asked to meet with any PLO representatives nor would we agree to such a meeting if we had time asked.

A B’nai B’rith spokesman said the organization was responding to reports circulated by a wire service, not the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and published in some newspapers that implied that Herman Edelsberg, who retired 10 months ago as director of B’nai B’rith’s International Council and is now a consultant to it, attended the meeting in an official B’nai B’rith capacity.

The JTA had reported that the Jewish participants in the meetings with the PLO representatives in Washington and New York were there as individuals and not as representatives of their organizations. This included Edelsberg who, after the meeting in Washington, wrote a memorandum on the incident.

At the same time, Richard Cohen, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, issued a statement saying the AJCongress “deplores any talks by representatives of American Jewish organizations with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Our president. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, has publicly rejected an invitation by the PLO to meet with its representatives in this country.” Referring to the presence of David Gorin of the AJCongress at the meeting in Washington, Cohen said:

“We regret the unauthorized attendance of a brand new member of our staff, who was in fact spending his first day on the job, at a meeting of the American Friends Service committee in Washington last month at which PLO representatives were present. That staff member was unaware that the PLO would be represented at the meeting. He has been reprimanded for not leaving the meeting immediately upon learning that PLO representatives were present.”

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