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Orthodox Leader Urges Carter Not to Try to Divide Jews on Israel

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The head of a major Orthodox rabbinic body yesterday appealed to President Carter not to attempt to undermine the unity of the Jewish community in its solid commitment to the security of the State of Israel.

“No matter how widely American Jews differ in their evaluation of policies advocated by the Israeli government, they remain committed and united behind the state of Israel in its yearnings to achieve peace and security,” Rabbi Walter S. Wurzburger, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, said. He spoke before several hundred delegates at the organization’s annual convention at the Constellation Hotel here.

“It is our basic conviction,” Wurzburger said, “that decisions affecting the security of the State cannot be made for Israel even by well-meaning friends abroad and must be made exclusively by the citizens of the sovereign State of Israel. The only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations between the parties concerned. American Jews categorically repudiate any suggestion that peace can be secured through the imposition of a settlement, whether the terms are dictated by (Egyptian) President (Anwar) Sadat or by friendly powers which arrogate to themselves the right to act paternalistically towards Israel.”

Wurzburger pointed out that “American Jews have every right to express responsible dissent with respect to Israeli policies but they have no right to exert any form of pressure which might lead to the adoption of policies which, from Israel’s perspective, are detrimental to her viability as a free and democratic State.”

RAPS ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY

Turning to the issues of Jewish community life, Wurzburger sharply criticized “the elected officials of religious and secular Jewish organizations who abdicate their sacred responsibilities and have entrusted major policy decisions to professionals who seem to function autonomously without lay involvement.” He charged that “these professional ‘civil servants’ formulate policies, allocate budgets, distribute funds and in general orient the ideological posture of their organization in a manner which may not reflect the feelings of a majority of their membership.

“In order to capture the confidence of the Jewish community,” Wurzburger continued, “Jewish elected leaders must reassume responsibility for the policies of their organization and be responsive to the democratically expressed opinions of their membership. American Jews must be made to feel that they are active participants in the affairs which affect them.”

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