Lookstein Warns That Emphasis on Ethnicity Could Be Devisive
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Lookstein Warns That Emphasis on Ethnicity Could Be Devisive

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Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein, president of the Synagogue Council of America (SCA), warned last night that the current emphasis on ethnicity “can be a mixed blessing” if the various groups in the United States become concerned only with their own parochial interests.

Lookstein made his warning to some 800 persons at a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria at which the SCA presented former Vice-President Nelson A Rockefeller its first annual World Covenant of Peace Award.

“It is gratifying to see groups of all shades and backgrounds, of all faiths and national origins, seeking to establish their several identities, determined to discover or rediscover their ethnic roots, and anxious to make their ancient culture part of the kaleidoscope that is America,” Lookstein said.

But, he asked, “When Jew and Christian and white and Black will labor in their separate cubicles each for his parochial needs, what will happen to America?…We will become polarized and hopelessly divided.” Lookstein urged that “for our individual good as well as for the good of America, we must resolve that the needs that touch us all are far more crucial than those that divide and separate us. Not polarization but unity must be our aspiration.”


In accepting the SCA award, Rockefeller called on the “free world” to join with Israel and the Arab nations in a program of encouraging trade and commerce between them “on the scale of the Marshall Plan.”

“Surely this is the time to move conclusively to a peaceful settlement of the Middle East problem, Rockefeller said. “And settlement of the problem on a just and lasting basis is essential not only for Israel and the Arab nations, but for the future of the free world and the market-oriented economy that underpins it.”

Rockefeller said peace must first of all assure “the existence of the State of Israel.” He said peace in the Mideast would also allow the OPEC countries to invest their excess funds in the “productive capacity, social progress and political stability of the world.”

The former Vice-President also warned against “applying uncritical generalizations to far different situations. Just because previous Administrations got us mired in the muds of Vietnam, first through arms and thence commitment of actual U.S. armed forces, dose not mean that this nation should thereafter always deny arms assistance to friendly nations needing such help to survive. For example, to deny Israel arms because our aid to South Vietnam ended in a debacle would be clearly preposterous.”

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