NEW YORK (Oct. 3)
The Agudath Israel of America assailed a renewed call by the Synagogue Council of America for an immediate, mutual and verifiable freeze of nuclear weapons as not representing “the views of the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews.”
The criticism of the Synagogue Council was in response to a statement by Rabbi Mordechai Waxman, president of the Council, at a press conference in Washington last month just prior to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s consideration of a nuclear freeze resolution that Jews support a freeze because of the Biblical commandment to “Choose life.”
Waxman, who appeared together with representatives of Catholic organizations, physicians, lawyers and other professions at the press conference, said that the Synagogue Council, as representative of the Jewish religious community, supports the freeze resolution that was being considered at the time.
CLAIMS OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF JEWISH TRADITION
An Agudath Israel spokesman said that Waxman’s reference to the Biblical commandment “is an oversimplification of Jewish tradition to interpret reverence for life as an argument for a nuclear freeze. To the extent that the quest for peace was the only proper basis for introducing Jewish tradition into the debate for a nuclear freeze, the argument was one-sided and out of context. Who is to say whether more nuclear arms or disarmament is the ultimate vehicle for peace?”
The Agudath Israel spokesman reiterated his organization’s earlier policy statement issued last April that although “no stone should be left unturned in an effort to put a halt to the frightening nuclear arms race and to achieve genuine peace, nevertheless while peace is a religious imperative, so is a strong national defense.”
The spokesman also blamed Waxman for claiming that the Synagogue Council is representative of the Jewish religious community. “The fact is that the vast majority of Orthodox synagogues, rabbis and their constituents are not represented in the Synagogue Council, and the SCA has no right to continue to represent itself as the spokesman for Orthodox Jewry on any issue, including the nuclear freeze,” the Agudath spokesman said.