Jewish Community Urged to Resist Trend of Centralized Control
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Jewish Community Urged to Resist Trend of Centralized Control

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Bertram H. Gold, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, today urged the Jewish community to resist the current trend within it for centralized control.

In his keynote address to the AJ Committee’s 71st annual meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria, Gold noted that there are conflicting tendencies within the American Jewish community. “On the one hand there is a recognition of the Jewish community’s diversity and the need to maintain it,” he said. “On the other hand, our concern for Jewish unity increases the pull in the direction of centralized control.”

Gold noted that the Jewish community has developed with the focus of power on a local rather than a national basis. “But in recent years,” he said, “we have seen some movement toward a more centralized control, ostensibly to meet the need for social planning on a local and national level. I believe that this movement should be resisted.”


Gold also pointed out that there is concern about dissent in the Jewish community which “centers almost completely on matters related to Israel.” He said “there is a growing desire for the kind of mature relationship in which American Jews can express their opinions, judgments and criticism, and have their views given serious considerations.”

At the same time, he said, there is the problem–“To whom should American Jewish criticism be directed, and through what channels? What kind of criticism should be made privately and what kind offered publicly?”

Gold said dissent must take into consideration three assumptions: “Israel, and the support of Israel, continues to be a major expression of Jewish identity for American Jews”; “the vast majority of American Jews support Israel’s refusal to negotiate with any group that is committed to her destruction and endorse Israel’s insistence on direct negotiations, on a full peace, with all that implies, on defensible borders, and on a united Jerusalem”; and recognition that “Israel is engaged ‘in a life-and-death struggle’ and that the decisions affecting that struggle must be made by her alone.”


At the dinner tonight, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.) received the AJ Committee’s American Liberties Medallion for “exceptional advancement of human rights and human dignity.” CBS news commentator Eric Sevareid was presented with the AJ Committee’s Institute of Human Relations Mass Media Award “for his lifelong commitment to the public’s right to know and his outstanding contribution to increased understanding of the critical issues of our time.” The annual meeting continues through Sunday.

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