Jewish Leaders Disappointed and Disillusioned with the U.S. Abstention on UN Jerusalem Measure
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Jewish Leaders Disappointed and Disillusioned with the U.S. Abstention on UN Jerusalem Measure

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Leaders of American Jewish organizations today expressed their disappointment and disillusionment with the United States for obtaining rather than vetoing the United Nations Security Council resolution on Jerusalem.

Some noted that while the resolution stopped short of calling for an economic boycott of Israel, it was the first to embody some form of punishment against Israel by calling on nations with embassies in Jerusalem to remove them. Other Jewish leaders said that the abstention was an act of cowardice and spotlighted the difference between the U.S. government’s words and deeds.

Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said “Our disappointment at the latest American action is profound.” Noting that Secretary of State Edmund Muskie described the resolution as “unbalanced,” “unrealistic,” “fundamentally flowed” and “disruptive,” Squadron said that by his own statement the U.S. should have vetoed the resolution.

“Instead, he abstained, citing his unhappiness with the recent action of the Israeli Knesset reaffirming the status of Jerusalem as a united city and the capital of Israel. In other words, our country’s UN abstention was a form of punishment directed against Israel,” Squadron said. He added that the resolution “is itself a form of sanction and lays the groundwork for additional sanctions.”


Maxwell Greenberg, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, called the U.S. abstention “immoral and counterproductive to the cause of peace.” He said that “We are greatly disappointed and disillusioned by the United Stated continuing refusal to react firmly against Arab and Soviet connivance in the United Nations.” In a withering blast at the U.S. for abstaining, Greenberg declared:

“Secretary of State Muskie’s comments before the UN put the spotlight on the differences between our government’s words and its actions. The abstention can only be described as an act devoid of courage, leadership, loyalty to an ally and unwise because of its corrosive effect on the Camp David process.”

Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization – American Section, said it was “inconceivable that the United States government, while upholding and supporting Israel, has acted in the opposite direction in this case.” She added: “Consistency with the U.S. government’s position and promise to Israel would have definitely called for a veto of this outrageous Security Council act.”

Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, termed the resolution “a disgrace. We condemn not only the resolution, which makes a mockery of the Middle East peace initiatives, but also our government’s role in this vote. Yesterday’s action was even more distressing in light of Secretary Muskie’s full recognition of the ‘unbalanced and unrealistic’ nature of the resolution.”


Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said: “Once again the Carter Administration has followed the path of appeasing the Arab states and the terrorist PLO.

“Secretary Muskie’s ‘explanation’ of our country’s vote should have led to only one action: veto. By abstaining, the Carter Administration has reconfirmed its fear of offending the very states that have damned the Camp David process. If Jimmy Carter still believes peace can come to the Middle East by placating nations that refuse to accept Israel’s very existence, he has learned nothing about the Arab world or about the process of making peace.”

Jack Spitzer, president of B’nai B’rith, denounced the resolution and said the UN “is again ripping into the fabric of established Middle East diplomacy.” He declared that “every other country in the world, including every member of the UN, decides for itself where its capital shall be. All other nations respect that decision. The UN should not be telling Israel where to place its capital.” He asserted that the resolution “would not only undermine the Camp David accords, which have purposely deferred the issue of Jerusalem, but undermine Resolution 242 by prejudging the status of Jerusalem.”

Maynard Wishner, president of the American Jewish Committee, said that Muskie’s statement on the resolution “was a forthright condemnation of the long series of biased United Nations resolutions on the Middle East. The statement made clear that this resolution added to the destructive actions taken by the United Nations in connection with the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. In light of these sentiments it is distressing that the United States again decided to abstain rather than to cost a veto in the Security Council.”


Laurence Tisch, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said on behalf of the JCRC’s 29 member agencies that the New York Jewish community “is deeply upset by the US. abstention, particularly when we find out that, in this instance, there was no ‘communication problem’ within the Administration. In fact, we have been informed that the decision to abstain was made at what was termed ‘the very highest levels’; this has engendered dismay, anguish and a deep consternation in our community.”

Julius Berman, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in a telegram to Carter, stated: “The fact that your Administration has failed to veto yet another in a series of virulently anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council serves only to encourage even more such diatribe in that body, and throws into question the depth of your Administration’s support of Israel and her security.” He added that “it is most disturbing that the guardian of world morality refuses to block one-sided and imbalanced resolutions.”

Roselle Silbentein, president of American Mizrachi Women, expressed “extreme disappointment” with the U.S. abstention, adding: “Israel has always been a faithful friend and ally of the United States and a firm outpost of democracy in a region rife with fanaticism and hatred. One would expect American support and, certainly, a measure of understanding for the centrality of Jerusalem in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people.”

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