NEW YORK (Jun. 13)
Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of Bnai Zion, warned last night that “Backroom diplomacy won’t work” in the search for a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In an address following his re-election as head of the American Zionist fraternal order at its 68th annual convention, Berkowitz said “The decisions about the Middle East and the ideas for peace have to come from Jerusalem, Cairo and Damascus, not from Washington, corporate oil boardrooms or anywhere else.”
Berkowitz, who is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Jeshurun and a past president of the New York Board of Rabbis, contended that talk of territories being a barrier to peace is “a false smokescreen designed to hide the inner Arab agenda of destruction” of Israel.
Referring to the concern in the Jewish community over recent statements on the Middle East by President Carter and members of his Administration, Berkowitz observed “How ironic that many of the average Jews who voted for President Carter should now be concerned about how he seems to be handling the Mideast. We will not stand idly by and watch a Washington whitewash. Erosion of support for Israel in Washington could lead to erosion of support for Washington in America–by the Jewish community,” Berkowitz warned.