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Rally to Protest Paris Synagogue Bombing

More than 1000 people thronged the sanctuary of Central Synagogue here last Thursday for a Testimony Against Terrorism sponsored by the World Union for Progressive Judaism in protest against the bombing of its affiliate synagogue in Paris, the Union Liberale Israelite de France (Rue Copernie), Oct. 3. An appeal for support of the French Jewish community, alarm over the revival of neo-fascist and neo-Nazi violence, and concern over the French government’s pro-Palestine Liberation Organization policies were voiced by the principal speakers.

Rabbi Michael Williams, spiritual leader of the Rue Copernie congregation, thanked the North American Jewish community for its vigorous response after the bombing. He called for continuing aid, so that French Jewish congregations could put in place the security measures required to assure their ability to worship in safety.

Williams spelled out factors contributing to the bombing as: the escalation of violence toward the Jewish community during the past 18 months, which be deemed likely to be a component of a worldwide pattern and the French government’s “consistent, non-stop, 13-year anti-Israel policy,” causing a spillover into anti-Semitism.

The most fundamental and difficult problem, Williams said, is that Jews are not considered as really French by the bulk of the French people, but as different and inferior. “Being Israelite or Juif is a pejorative term in society,” be observed. “There is no equivalent to the openness of American Jews about their Jewishness … Because there is a strong monolithic pattern in the French population, French Jews can’t behave like American Jews. They must tread the delicate path between discretion and courage.”

STRONG CRITICISM OF FRENCH GOVERNMENT

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, expressed strong criticism of the French government. He declared:

“French Jews are deeply concerned that the new Nazis who seek to destroy Jewish lives have been encouraged by official laxity and inattention to the violent nature of the anti-Semitic movement in France. There is also a strong belief that the government’s willingness to accept the terrorist PLO as a legitimate party in the Middle East political scene emboldened the French counterparts to the PLO to engage in the same loathsome tactics.”

Schindler recalled that more than three years are the government of Valery Discard d’Estaing had surrendered to Arab pressure in releasing Abu Doud, the PLO assassin who had boasted of responsibility for the Munich Olympic Games attack in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed. He noted that French authorities had let it be known that “they would like nothing better than to be the first major Western country to receive PLO chieftain Yasir Arafat.”

WARNS OF INCIPIENT FASCISM

Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, called on Jew and non-Jew alike to unite in opposing the threat of neo-fascist and anti-Semitic violence.

“A new fascism is arising that is utilizing the scapegoat of Jews and Judaism, he stated. As a refugee from Nazi Germany, he pointed out, he is well aware of how insidious the progress of this kind of evil can be. He warned of the beginning of a “difficult time for all of us.”

I am by nature not an alarmist, but I see this in its incipient stage,” Gottschalk said. “There is a warning in the world.” Rabbi Richard Hirsch, executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, pledged his organization’s continuing support for the French Jewish community, announcing that the next meeting of the World Union’s international board will be in Paris. The meeting was chaired by Gerard Daniel, president of the World Union.

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