NEW YORK (Dec. 11)
Climaxing three emotion-filled days which included moments of both sorrow and celebration, some 3000 delegates to the United Jewish Appeal 40th Anniversary National Conference heard Saturday night Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, in a message filmed in Jerusalem on the eve of his departure for Oslo, restate Israel’s commitment to work for peace within the framework of the Camp David agreements.
“We are true and faithful to the Camp David agreements,” he declared, “and we want to carry them out as we want to carry them out as we wrote them and as we signed them. We have made great sacrifices for the sake of peace, and we want peace with all our hearts.”
The message, screened at the banquet session at the New York Hilton, included a call for active support by American Jews of “Project Renewal,” a comprehensive social rehabilitation plan for 300,000 people living in distressed immigrant urban areas in Israel. Project Renewal, a drive for funds over and above regular annual contributions, is a cornerstone of the UJA 1979 campaign.
UJA national chairman Irwin S. Field said that the spirit of affirmative action, which began in 1939 with the formation of the UJA, in reaction to Kristallnacht–the Nazis’ attack on the lives and property of German Jews–is epitomized by Project Renewal.
Elie Wiesel, the author, who led the gala celebration and was the keynote speaker, said that the Jewish people should be proud of its achievements in the last 40 years. He said the greatest of Jewish virtues is Ahavat Yisrael–the love of Israel–and its meaning is “solidarity and profound kinship.” He said that by celebrating the UJA 40th anniversary, we are celebrating “Jewish solidarity.”
URGES SUPPORT OF JERUSALEM
At an earlier session, Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, called on Jews throughout the world to visit Jerusalem to demonstrate their support for the united city as the capital of Israel as an answer to an expected assault that East Jerusalem is occupied Arab territory.
Recalling President Kennedy’s famous statement at the Berlin Wall, Dinitz declared “Every Jew should go to the wall in Jerusalem and say ‘I am a Jerusalemite.’” Dinitz took particular note of President Carter’s statement last Thursday warning that the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement should be signed by the Dec. 17 deadline. The envoy said that Israel also is anxious to reach the signing of the agreement by Dec. 17. “It is not Israel which delayed the peace process for 30 years and it is not Israel’s responsibility for the delay in the last 30 days,” he said. Dinitz said Israel was ready to sign the agreement but Egypt had made new demands. He said Israel will not be pressured to approve conditions which would endanger its security.
FRANCE’S MIDEAST POLICY DEFENDED
Another speaker, Baron Guy de Rothschild, president of the Fonds Social Juif Unifie for more than 25 years and co-president of the United Jewish Appeal of France, defended France’s Mideast policy as sometimes “more irritating than necessary” but “not a hostile policy” toward Israel. “There are very few countries in the world where Israel is so popular as in France,” he stressed. He said France must maintain good relations with its neighbors to the south, the Arab countries of North Africa. He said it is this and not oil that is the reason for France’s policy.
Rothschild also noted that every government in France has maintained “an open door” for all victims of discrimination and persecution. He said no country except Israel has done more to accept refugees from persecution.
In a wide-ranging speech, Rothschild declared that nothing is more important for Israel than that there be a vivacious and strong diaspora. He said both Israel and diaspora Jewry should exchange advice and help, but when it comes to life and death decisions on Israel’s security, it is only those who put their life on the line who can make decisions about Israel’s future. At the same time, he said, diaspora communities, particularly the smaller ones, must not allow Israel to run their institutions.