NEW YORK (Jun. 12)
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said today that recent pronouncements on the Middle East by President Carter “have frightened the Israelis and tend to raise expectations in the Arab world which if frustrated in the slightest way will impede the process toward peace and plunge us all into disaster.” Rabbi Schindler, who is also chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, made his remarks at a meeting of the national Board of Trustees of the UAHC, the Reform synagogue body.
Schindler recently returned from Israel where he met with Premier-designate Menachem Begin. Subsequently he had meetings with U.S. Administration officials at the White House and State Department. He expressed concern that “the thrust of President Carter’s statements suggests the outlines of an imposed settlement and creates the impression that this is an abandonment of standing U.S. policies that the parties must resolve their own differences in the face-to-face negotiations between the Arabs and the Israelis.
BELIEVES IN CARTER’S DESIRE FOR PEACE
However, Schindler said, in subsequent public statements the “dim outlines” of an American peace plan began to be perceived. But “We were assured by the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew, Brzezunski, that these proposals do not ‘constitute a blueprint for peace’ but rather ‘ a conceptual framework within which the parties can themselves negotiate,’” Schindler said.
He added, “I believe that President Carter’s desire for peace is unquestioned. I also take him at his word that he merely wants to stimulate discussions to nurture the tender seedlings of negotiations toward peace. Unfortunately, the world is not yet used to his ways of open diplomacy and his words are considered not as he intends them but in quite a different way. They are perceived as a firm position, no matter,” Schindler said.