Tel Aviv (Feb. 19)
– Jerry Falwell, the leader of the Moral Majority movement in the United States, arrived in Israel today on a visit and denied that he was an anti-Semite. Falwell has been criticized by some American Jewish leaders for fostering a climate which could lead to religious intolerance and encourage anti-Semitism.
Asked at Ben Gurion Airport about charges that he was anti-Semitic, Falwell blamed the National Council of Churches (NCC) for spreading that rumor. “We have actually been anticipating that charge and predicted it much before it happened,” he said. “The reason is that the National Council of Churches, which originated a great deal of that, has itself begun to be quite anti-Semitic, in my opinion. When you endorse the Palestine-Liberation Organization and suggest that we negotiate with (Yasir) Arafat and the PLO, I think you become anti-Semitic.”
This was a reference to the Middle East policy statement which the NCC adopted late last year which called on Israel to recognize the right of Palestinians to national self-determination, including a “sovereign state.” This call came under fire from American Jewish organizations.