Jewish Leaders, Shocked by Assassination Try, Back Israel

Shocked by the attempted assassination last Thursday of Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Shlomo Argov, representatives of leading Jewish organizations rallied support behind Israel’s military operation in south Lebanon designed to push Palestinian terrorist forces beyond artillery and rocket range of Israel’s northern settlements.

Maxwell Greenberg, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said the Israeli action is “a manifestation of the most basic responsibility a government has to fulfill — to protect the lives and security of its people.” Greenberg called on the Reagan Administration to launch a worldwide “diplomatic offensive” with the “goal of quarantining the PLO, of ousting it from international agencies … and of denying it financial and military support.”

Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said today that the Israeli action is solely designed to eliminate the PLO’s military structure in Lebanon. “A truth we must all confront is that only when the PLO is no longer able of backing its vehement opposition to the Camp David process with military power can the peace negotiations be expected to produce significant results,” Siegman said.

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, assailed the United Nations for its recent resolutions expressing concern over the territorial integrity of Lebanon. “Where was the UN when the terrorist PLO–banished from Jordan by King Hussein — moved into Lebanon in 1970 and set up a mini-government there without regard to the independence and sovereignty or territorial integrity of Lebanon,” Schindler asked.

URGES COMMUNITY TO RESPOND

Robert Loup, national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, called on the American Jewish community to respond to the crisis in Israel by immediately launching an all out effort to complete the 1982 UJA/Community Campaign. “We must take all possible steps to increase the flow of cash to meet the basic human needs of the people of Israel and to do all we can to ensure the quality and continuity of life throughout this crisis,” Loup said.

Americans for a Safe Israel said in a statement released today that they “applaud” the decision by the Israeli government to “eliminate” the PLO in Lebanon. “Just as other nations demonstrate their right to protect the safety of their citizens, the Israeli government has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens who find themselves under constant threat of missiles and artillery attack,” the organization said. The statement was signed by the organization’s chairman, Herbert Zweibon, and director, Peter Goldman.

Earlier, Jewish organization officials expressed their outrage at the assassination attempt of Argov and in various statements released throughout the week end, blamed the Palestine Liberation Organization for the shooting.

Declaring that “condemnation is not sufficient,” Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, said the shooting incident has once again brought to world attention the “savage nature of rampant terrorism which poses an undiminished threat to the fabric of the world order.” While calling for a “concerted effort” to holt international terrorism, Bronfman said. “The terrorists who committed this most heinous act, organizationally linked as they surely are with the PLO, once more demonstrates the true character of their tactics and aims.”

INFORMATION CAMPAIGN PLANNED

Ivan Novick, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) accused outright the PLO for the shooting incident and said the ZOA will launch a campaign to inform members of Congress and the American media “to the plans and purposes of the PLO … which advocates terrorism and violence.”

The president of B’nai B’rith International, Jack Spitzer, condemned the shooting and said “such outrageous acts of terror cannot be justified” by any political objectives the assailants might have. He called on Great Britain and all European nations to withdraw all forms of recognition accorded to groups like the PLO and in doing so make terrorists understand that their crime will not yield political dividends.

Rabbi Joseph Stemstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, said the “despicable” shooting of the ambassador represented “the bitter fruit that is harvested when terrorism is legitimized by the world. The elevation of the murderous PLO to official status of the United Nations and many world capitals has spawned an unprecedented wave of violence against both diplomats and innocent civilians.” He added that the PLO should be “relegated to the standing it deserves … a group of international gangsters, whose only goal is death and destruction.”

Robert Zweiman, national commander of the Jewish War Veterans, said verbal condemnation of shooting incidents like that of the Israeli Ambassador “will not stop growing national terrorism.” Zweiman charged that “verbal denunciations are weakened by government actions that support terrorism by giving respectability to terrorist leaders.” Zweiman referred to the two former Palestinian Arab West Bank Mayors who conferred recently at the State Department with two senior Department officials, and the Administration’s removal of Iraq from the list of nations supporting international terrorism.

The national President of American Mizrachi Women, Mrs. Roselle Silberstein, accused the PLO of the shooting and said that at this point in the continuing Camp David peace talks regarding Palestinian autonomy, “the PLO has chosen to prove itself undeserving of the free world’s trust and unacceptable as a party to these negotiations.”

Phyllis Sutker, president of Pioneer Women/Na’amat, said the “security of the northern sector of the Israeli population, which has a long history of vulnerability to PLO attacks, justified the Israel army current action in Lebanon.” She expressed her organizations solidarity with the citizens of Israel.

Rabbi Louis Bernstein, acting chairman World Zionist Organization American Section, said that “any Israeli government that failed to act to bring PLO artillerists to bay, and to halt its terrorist hit men assassinations, would have been derelict in its fundamental duty to protect its citizens.” He added that peace will come to the Middle East when PLO “gunmen metamorphose into statesmen who negotiate instead of shoot.”

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