NASHVILLE, TENN (May. 24)
The American Jewish Committee has strongly criticized a section of a Middle East resolution adopted by the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches which called upon the United States Government to “undertake an open dialogue with the PLO” without requiring the PLO to repudiate its announced aims for the violent destruction of Israel.
AJC reaction was issued here by Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, AJC’s national interreligious affairs director, and Rabbi A. James Rudin, assistant director. Rudin represented the AJC at the NCC Governing Board as an official fraternal observer.
While acknowledging that the NCC resolution contains a number of positive affirmations about Israel and Egypt and the Camp David peace process, the two AJC spokesmen deplored the fact that “this latest resolution fails to urge two preconditions for any governmental dialogue with the PLO, namely, the PLO’s recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state and the cessation of all hostile acts carried out against Israel. This resolution can only lend legitimacy to the PLO, the pivotal catalyst for international terrorism — hardly a moral position expected from a major Christian body.”
Such unqualified support for the PLO in peace negotiations, the AJC officials said, will only contribute to the hardening of positions and will inhibit the cause of Middle East peace rather than advance it.
The NCC resolution, Tanenbaum and Rudin said, is at the same time constructive in a number of respects. They welcome the NCC’s commendation of Israel for its “difficult and painful withdrawal from Sinai,” and its acknowledgment that both Israel and Egypt have demonstrated their commitment to the Camp David peace treaty and to the continuing peace process. In addition, the AJC welcomed the NCC’s support of the United States government’s reaffirmation of Israel’s right to “secure, defined and recognized borders” and the NCC’s call for the removal of all foreign troops and weapons from Lebanon.
Nevertheless, Tanenbaum and Rudin concluded, “the NCC failed in an opportunity to be solidly helpful in dealing with the cutting edge issues of Middle East peace at the heart of which is the PLO’s intransigent commitment to violence and terrorism and the refusal of the majority of Arab governments to welcome Israel into the family of nations as a legitimate sovereign state.”