NEW YORK (Mar. 3)
David Blumberg. president of B’nai B’rith,is presently selecting a “blue ribbon” committee to recommend a policy for the organization in the wake of charges that some of its Hillel directors are promoting anti-Israel, pro-Arab propaganda by their membership in Breirs.
At the same time, Blumberg has rejected a recommendation by B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League that the parent organization dismiss any employe who takes a position In public in opposition to B’nai B’rith’s policy on Israel. a B’nai B’rith spokesman in Washington told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
In a memorandum to B’nai B’rith’s board of governors, Blumberg noted that the controversy over Breira has “focussed particularly on publicized references to the affiliation of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation staff members with the Breira movement. This has regrettably led to undocumented charges and what may–or may not–be rash, hasty conclusions. I believe that an open objective airing of the issue would be useful.”
Blumberg stressed that the purpose of the committee will be to recommend to the board of governors a “policy which protects both the integrity of the institution ( B’nai B’rith ) and that of its staff members.”
NO EVIDENCE OF WRONG-DOING
The B’nai B’rith spokesman stressed to the JTA that so far there is no evidence of wrong doing by any Hillel directors. He noted that retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Matti Peled. who supports negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, has spoken on college campuses under Hillel auspices. But, he added, so have spokesmen for Likud, the Jewish Defense League and for every other position taken by Jews. In most cases the speakers are selected by the students rather than the Hillel director, the spokesman noted.
Blumberg said the panel would be made up of “men and women of unchallenged integrity and fair-mindedness whose commitment to the highest principles of B’nai B’rith and concern for the security and prosperity of Israel are without question.”
The ADL recommendation for dismissal resulted from a meeting Jan. 12, in which the ADL’s national administrative staff met with Burton Joseph ADL’s new national chairman; Maxwell Greenberg, chairman of the national executive committee; and Dore Schary, honorary national chairman. In a memorandum issued Jan.14, the ADL said it discussed the meetings by B’nai B’rith employes with PLO representatives and the membership of Hillel staff members in Breira. The ADL memorandum said:
THE ADL RECOMMENDATION
” We would recommend that B’nai B’rith International take such steps as necessary to ensure that in matters of fundamental principle and policy of B’nai B’rith, members of the professional staff shall, in their public pronouncements and activities. refrain from promoting views contrary to those of B’nai B’rith Fundamental principle and policy’ as used herein, should include positions dealing with the safe guarding of the safety and security of the State of Israel, and opposition to those forces, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, which are dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State.
“Refusal to abide by the policy herein enunciated should be grounds for dismissal from the employ of B’nai B’rith and any of its agencies. The ADL has operated on this principle for many years.”
The B’nai B’rith spokesman said Blumberg rejected the ADL recommendation and did not present it to the board of governors. He noted that Blumberg is personally opposed to American Jews meeting with PLO representatives and had introduced a resolution to that effect which was adopted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization.
The panel is the result of concern by many B’nai B’rith members about the criticism lodged against B’nai B’rith over the membership in Breira by Hillel directors, the spokes man noted He said others have called in expressing fear that the organization, the largest Jewish group in the world, might engage in a “witchhunt,” something the spokesman vigorously denied would happen. Blumberg’s memorandum said the panel would “seek out contrasting viewpoints and strive for prudent judgments and evaluations based on reality and good sense.”