GROSSINGERS, N.Y., (Nov. 13)
Rabbi Israel Miller, retiring chairman of the American Zionist Federation, said here last night that he has “no doubt that a peace treaty will be signed” between Israel and Egypt. But, he added, “Israel is rightfully apprehensive that it must not compromise Israel’s future development.”
Miller, in the opening address to the AZF’s fifth biennial convention, told the 500 delegates that there seems to be “a growing pressure on Israel from both the UN and the State Department to accept peace terms with Egypt that would be detrimental to the long-range security and growth of the Jewish homeland.”
According to Miller, “there is a real challenge ahead for American Jewry and particularly the AZF, to rally to the support of Israel.” This should include “rallying Gentiles as well as Jews to the support of a peace treaty that will be more than mere words, important as they may be.”
He expressed hope that peace will enable the Zionist movement to devote a larger part of its efforts to such activities as Jewish education and youth work, aliya and the organization of academic and inter-religious programs.
CARTER PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
Miller read a message of greetings from President Carter who pledged that “Support for Israel remains a cornerstone of United States policy in the Middle East.” The President’s message said, “During the 30 years of Israel’s travail, the American Zionist Federation has served to support Israel. As America stood by Israel in times of struggle, we will stand by her now at the inception of peace.”
He urged the convention participants “to work and to pray with us as we seek to ensure that peace and justice will come at last to the Middle East.”
In a message from Jerusalem to the AZF convention, Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, called on American Zionists to “aid Israel to face new responsibilities in the development of the Negev and the Galilee in the economic sphere.” The message, read by Miller, also called for help in “facing a major challenge in the spheres of aliya and Jewish education” and “to mobilize for an all-out fight against assimilation.”
FUTURE OF ISRAEL, ZIONISM
The future of Israel and Zionism in an era of peace in the Middle East was the major topic of discussion at the convention sessions today. Addressing that subject this morning, Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the WZO-American Section, said that “what remains central to Zionism is the centrality of Israel,” but this does not mean that American Jews need concentrate on political and economic support of Israel to the exclusion of all other concerns.
“It is time that we returned to the classic Ahad Ha’am view of Zionism as a cultural movement ‘in relation to its end and purpose’ as he himself put it,” Mrs. Jacobson said. “With the promise of peace, at least with Israel’s major neighbor–Egypt–it is time to reinvoke the concept of Ahad Ha’am which saw Israel as a national center, not only for Jews but for Judaism.”
Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, told the AZF convention last night that he was optimistic that an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty will be achieved despite all the difficulties that still exist. It is a “major step which may eventually bring about a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” Blum said. “Israel has accepted very considerable risks in order to open the way to future peace treaties that will end the state of war and normalize diplomatic, economic and cultural relations in the region.”