NEW YORK (Mar. 22)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will meet in Washington Thursday with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on the eve of his departure for Moscow. Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Presidents Conference. said today that Vance will be asked to take up with Soviet leaders the issue of Soviet Jewry, especially in view of “the new campaign of vilification against Russian Jews.”
Speaking at a press conference here. Schindler said that Vance also will be presented with a specific list of Jewish activists and be asked to intervene on their behalf with the Soviet authorities. In addition, Schindler said, the Presidents Conference is interested to learn Vance’s views on the issue of Soviet Jewry and the way he intends to approach it during his upcoming visit to the USSR.
Another major issue to be discussed with Vance is the Middle East in view of the recent statement by President Carter. Schindler praised Carter’s statement last week in which he described basic conditions for a lasting peace, emphasizing “the recognition of Israel by her neighbors; Israel’s right to exist in peace.”
Schindler recalled that Carter had specifically urged that Israel’s borders “be opened up to travel, to tourism, to cultural exchange, to trade…” with her neighbors and said that Carter’s definition of peace is the same as Israel’s. While Carter had earlier spoken of Israel returning to the 1967 borders with only “minor” adjustments. Schindler said the President’s latest statement recognized Israel’s position that the boundaries must be adjusted for security purposes and emphasized that “this is a matter to be negotiated between the Arab countries on the one side and Israel on the other.”
COMMENTS ON BREZHNEV’S STATEMENT
Referring to a statement made yesterday by Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev which called for Israeli withdrawal from all the territories taken in 1967. Schindler stressed the urgency of educational and other efforts “to make clear that the surest formula for renewal of war in the Middle East is a settlement that restores the old borders that proved so tempting to Arab dreams of destroying the Jewish State.”
Schindler disclosed that he had a series of meetings with James Schlesinger. Carter’s energy chief, to discuss the energy situation. He explained that the energy problem is of major concern to the Jewish community in view of its influence on American policy in the Middle East. He said that if anything endangers Israel it is the erosion of American support as a result of energy problems. He said that the Administration is determined to achieve a measure of energy independence.
Concluding his remarks. Schindler said that “There is a strong need for a united American Jewish community” at the present time because “Israel is in a period of confusion and disarray.” He said that the Israeli leadership is divided, partly because of the upcoming elections, and called for increased efforts by American Jews on behalf of Israel.