A Plea for Jewish Unity

In a plea for Jewish unity, Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, called on Jews in Israel and in the diaspora to build “a firmer relationship, based on mutual respect,” to assure the survival of the Jewish State, protect Jews in danger and meet the challenge of assimilation.

Bronfman addressed the Central Council of Jews in Germany recently. He said that the Nazi experience had taught the Jewish people “that our survival will depend on our unity, that Jews must stand together and work together, aggressively to help each other.” He added:

“Israel’s security profoundly affects the well-being of Jews everywhere. The State of Israel gives every Jew a sense of pride unknown before the nation was established 36 years ago.”

Despite this identification with Israel, Bronfman said, “a healthy respect for diaspora Jewry by our Israeli brethren is often lacking. The Jews of the diaspora are expected not only to use their means to support Israel, but all of their political clout as well. That’s OK up to a point, but the trouble is we are asked to support every action of every Israel government, no questions asked, no criticism tolerated. They tell us in effect that they very much want our dollars, but they don’t want our two cents’ worth.”

Bronfman said he understood why this was often so. “The brutal reality,” he said, “is that brave Israeli men and women are fighting and dying on the borders so that the Jewish state may survive. But the tension remains, and some system must be found to ease that tension through responsible, constructive participation.”

SOVIET JEWS A PAWN IN EAST-WEST CHESS GAME

On the dangers confronting Jews in the Soviet Union, Bronfman said that “Soviet Jewry has become a pawn in the deadly East-West chess game. Unfortunately,” he added, “the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union is directly related to the temperature of U.S.-Soviet relations.”

Bronfman listed three goals that he said the World Jewish Congress had set to enhance the safety of Jews in the USSR: “First, every Jew who wants to leave must be allowed to do so. Next, the majority who elect to stay should be allowed to live in dignity and security as Jews, and to practice their religion, if they so desire, under Soviet law. And third, we want the release of the Prisoners of Zion — those who have been incarcerated for no other reason than that they have demanded the right to live as Jews, or sought to emigrate, or committed the crime of teaching Hebrew.”

On the threat of assimilation, Bronfman said that while “many Jews who have not been brought up in Jewish homes will disappear as Jews, the picture is far from bleak… there is a growing number of Jewish homes where ethnic pride and deep respect for our roots have taken hold. More and better Jewish education is taking place, even though much, much more is needed.”

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