PHILADELPHIA (Apr. 16)
Rabbi Israel Miller, Israel Task Force chairman for the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC), said here that there was great concern about the Carter Administration’s position and pressures on Israel.
Miller spoke here at one of four concurrent emergency regional conferences convened by NJCRAC last Thursday to shape community relations programs concerning Israel. The other conferences were held in Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco.
“Although no resolutions were passed,” Miller said, “the general consensus of the participants was that the priority issue is the fulfillment of United States commitments to Israel, regarding the sale of F-15s and F-16s to Israel without linkage of a sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia.” Miller said that at the meeting here there were 280 delegates from 35 communities in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
“The fact that so many came on such short notice is a demonstration of the great concern of Jewish communities for a secure Israel,” Miller declared. “Despite differences of opinion regarding the tactic, timing or perceptions of the government of Israel, there was unanimous support for Israel and for the resumption of face-to-face negotiations, and unanimous expression against pressure on Israel by the Carter Administration. We want the United States to be the facilitator in negotiations, and not what Sadat calls the ‘partner’ in negotiations,” he declared.
NO DISUNITY ON FUNDAMENTALS
Similar views were expressed by NJCRAC chairman Theodore R. Mann, of Philadelphia, who was a featured speaker at the San Francisco conference. “Of course there were differences but they were on peripheral issues of tactics and the like,” he said. “After all, we have our reputation as a contentious people to uphold. But there was no sign of disunity on the fundamentals. We are solidly behind the Israel government’s peace plan as a reasonable and fair basis for negotiations.”
Dore Schary, of New York, honorary chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, who spoke at the Atlanta conference, also stressed the unanimity of the participants in their criticism of the Administration’s proposed arms package to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“There was absolute agreement,” he said, “that this departure from what has been American policy for so many years under Republican and Democratic administrations of supplying Israel with what she needs to assure her capacity to defend herself and to deter attack, without linkage to any other arms sales of military assistance to other countries, is completely unjustifiable.”
A CLEAR CONSENSUS EXPRESSED
Benjamin R. Epstein, director of the ADL, said there was “a clear consensus” at the Atlanta conference “that the obstacle to progress toward peace at this time is President Sadat’s obdurate refusal to negotiate, in spite of the most far-reaching concessions for peace Israel has ever made.”
Bertram H. Gold, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, who participated in the Philadelphia conference, said “the most effective contribution our government can make to the peace process is to encourage and facilitate true, earnest face-to-face negotiations between Egypt and Israel. What this requires at the present juncture is U.S. influence on Sadat to return to the bargaining that he broke off so abruptly last January.”
Phil Baum, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, a participant in the San Francisco parley, called the Administration’s proposed arms package deal “a disservice to the cause of peace, especially at a time when Israeli-Egyptian negotiations are in such a delicate state and when Saudi Arabia continues to support the terrorist PLO.”
Speaking from Chicago, Albert Vorspan, vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, emphasized the unity of leadership represented there in calling for U.S. impartiality as a mediator between Israel and Egypt in the current phase of the peace search.
Albert D. Chernin, executive vice chairman of the NJCRAC, who also participated in the Chicago conference, said he was most impressed with the renewed commitment to vigorous furtherance of the Jewish community’s campaign to win acceptance for the views shared in the conference. The NJCRAC is the umbrella agency for 103 local community relations councils and a number of national agencies.