NEW YORK (Sep. 5)
American Jewish leaders and spokesmen for major Jewish organizations have expressed grief and sorrow over the death of Sen. Henry Jackson (D. Wash.) last Thursday night. Jackson, one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the Senate and a champion of Jewish causes, died after a massive heart attack at the age of 71 in Everett, Washington.
In their statements the Jewish leaders noted Jackson’s consistent support of Israel and the fact that he was one of the sponsors of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, tying American economic concessions and benefits to the Soviet Union with the Kremlin’s policies on Soviet Jewish emigration.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Meir Rosenne, said: “It is painful to think of America, Washington, the U.S. Congress and U.S.-Israeli relations without ‘Scoop’ Jackson. All of us have lost a pillar of strength, wisdom, human kindness, energy and friendship.
“Israel and the Jews all over the world, especially in the Soviet Union, have lost a gigantic supporter. His ceaseless efforts on behalf of Israel’s security and well-being will always be cherished by the entire Israeli nation.”
Julius Bemian, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said: “American Jewry is deeply saddened by the passing of an ardent champion of human rights and a loyal friend of the State of Israel, Senator Henry Jackson.
“His forceful advocacy of freedom for Soviet Jewry, his leadership in the battle for human rights against all forms of totalitarianism and his outspoken support of Israel in the chambers of the Senate for more than two decodes have earned him the eternal gratitude of the Jewish people. We join with all Americans in mourning this noble statesman.”
Paul Zuckerman, a member of the Jewish Agency Board and a former United Jewish Appeal national chairman, recalled his personal 25-year friendship with Jackson. “I remember how he once told me, with tears in his eyes, that as an officer in the U.S. army he entered the concentration camps in 1943 and he confessed that ‘I’ve had a nightmarish dream almost every night of my life since’.”
In 1972, Zuckerman said, “the Jackson-Vanik bill was born in my living room at three o’clock in the morning. We were trying to arrive at a way to loosen up the immigration of the Jews from Russia and we agreed that Most Favored Nation (MFN) status might be held out as an incentive. The Jackson-Vanik bill was passed finally in 1974 and it worked for a while whereby over 250,000 Jews escaped from Russia. Russia never did get MFN privileges because it did not live up to other phases of the bill.”
Other Jewish leaders who recalled that Jackson spoke out forthrightly in behalf of Israel and was a consistent critic of the Soviet oppression of its Jewish citizens, included: Howard Friedman, president, American Jewish Committee; Kenneth Bialkin and Nathan Perlmutter, national chairman and national director, respectively, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Dr. Daniel Thursz, executive vice president, B’nai B’rith International Seymour Lachman, chairman. Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry; Raymond Patt, president, American Zionist Federation; Howard Squadron, president, American Jewish Congress; Sam Rothberg, general chairman, Israel Bond Organization; Rabbi Avraham Weiss, chairman. Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
Charlotte Jacobson, president, Jewish National Fund; Eryk Spektor, national chairman, Herut Zionists of America; Harold Jacobs, president, National Council of Young Israel; Alleck Resnick, president, Zionist Organization of America; Rabbi William Berkowitz, president, American Jewish Heritage Committee.