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ZOA Conclave to Probe Major Issues of Zionist Concern in U.s., Israel

The 81st national convention of the Zionist Organization of America, which will be held in Washington Sept. 6-10, will focus on major areas of Zionist concern in the United States and Israel, it was announced here by Leon Ilutovich, ZOA national executive director. Foremost among them, he said, will be: the issue of interdependence in policy and action between Israel and the diaspora, especially American Jewry; religious pluralism in Israel; the problem posed by Soviet Jewish dropouts “and the role played in this tragic development by some respectable non-Zionist Jewish organizations”; aliya as a central task and an evaluation of Israel’s absorption process; and “our position regarding the most desirable structure for the Zionist movement in the United States and a clear-cut policy with regard to the American Zionist Federation as presently constituted.”

Ilutovich, noting that the convention will coincide with the Camp David summit conference, said “all eyes will be focused on the Camp David meeting to see if there will be any strains in the already taut bonds between Israel and the United States.” Any American plans to make Israel “more forthcoming” are certain to be rejected by the ZOA, he added.

Among the Israelis scheduled to address the convention, which will be held at the Shoreham Americana Hotel, are Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Yitzhak Modai; Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations; Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives; and Harry Hurwitz, newly appointed advisor on external information to Begin. Israeli Premier Menachem Begin has been invited to address the convention and has indicated his interest, “if the meetings at Camp David allow,” Ilutovich said.

The convention will also elect a new president in accord with the ZOA constitution, which limits the term of office to no more than four consecutive years. Rabbi Joseph P. Sternstein, who has served since the 1974 convention as president, will step down. During the convention the delegates will be briefed by high-ranking State Department officials and a number of Congressmen are scheduled to meet with delegations and address the convention.

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