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Bronfman Lauds Jewish Democracy in Israel and in the Diaspora

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Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, told the delegates at the B’nai B’rith International convention here last week that recent events "have marked a watershed in Israeli-diaspora relations" and that the Jewish people have responded in the best tradition "of democracy, humanitarianism, and decency."

Declaring unrelenting "support for the idea and the State that is Israel, Bronfman said "we take pride in its commitment to the democratic process and its determination to examine, question and even criticize itself." He noted that "this process places on us an obligation to examine in a constructive and critical way government policies or actions which affect Jewish life in the Diaspora as well as Israel."

Bronfman asserted that "our approach has never been selective, aimed solely at one party or one government — whether it be the government of David Ben Gurion, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, or Menachem Begin."

SEES FRESH MOMENTUM FOR PEACE

Bronfman stated that he had joined with B’nai B’rith in welcoming President Reagan’s initiative of September I and commended it "for giving fresh momentum for the search for Middle East peace." He cautioned against the view that initial reactions signaled on impasse in the peace process: "Total rejectionism, whether it comes from the Arabs in Fez or the Israelis in Jerusalem must be regarded as opening bargaining positions in a renewed set of progressive negotiations."

Expressing belief that "signs are pointing in the right direction," Bronfman referred to the positive process of self-examination that organized Jewry is undergoing; "We are asking ourselves whether it makes sense defensively to organize our lives and plans around a few anti-Semitic outlaws who do terrible things, rather than walking proudly among the free people of the world, most of whom deplore as much as we do these outrages."

On the subject of Soviet Jewry, Bronfman stressed the close cooperation of the WJC and B’nai B’rith in adopting a position "opposing neo-cold-war gestures and yet equally opposing the misled, if not soft-headed, approaches of the Billy Grahams."

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