WASHINGTON (Mar. 2)
Sen. Carl Levin (D. Mich.) said Sunday that American Jews, while supporting the maintenance of a strong Israel, must also continue working for social justice in the United States.
“If we do not involve ourselves in the full range of American life, is it likely that other Americans will care about what’s important to us?” he asked the nearly 3,000 young American Jewish leaders attending the opening session of the United Jewish Appeal’s Fifth National Young Leadership Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
“If we do not fight the injustices that affect others, will they fight the injustices that affect us?” Levin asked. He said Jews gained allies for their causes by their participation in the struggle for social justice such as the civil rights movement.
Specifically, Levin noted that $2.5 billion was being cut in U.S. funds for education and said that new immigrants will be denied the opportunities Jewish immigrants received. He also charged that the civil rights laws which Jews helped bring about are being ignored by the Reagan Administration.
Elie Wiesel, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, urged that now that Anatoly Shcharansky has been allowed to go to Israel, American Jews should not forget the others still in the Soviet Union.
MARCH ON WASHINGTON URGED
He recommended a march on Washington of 250,000 to 500,000 people the week before Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives for a meeting with Reagan. A specific date has not yet been set for the proposed meeting.
Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne also stressed that Jews should not be satisfied with “token” emigration but should continue to press for the release of all Soviet Jews.
Wiesel, who received the Young Leadership’s first Jacob Javits Humanitarian Award, stressed the importance of young Jews in Jewish history, noting that it was the young Jews who led the opposition to the Nazis in the ghettos and the concentration camps, who fought in the underground against the British in pre-state Palestine and who began the Soviet Jewry movement both in the Soviet Union and the United States.
“It is on your shoulders that Jewish destiny weighs heavily,” Wiesel told the young leaders. He said they should take in all of Jewish history, both the joys and tragedies.
Michael Adler, chairman of the Young Leadership Cabinet, said the conference, which runs through Tuesday, is the largest gathering of young Jewish activists ever assembled in Washington.
The conference includes speeches and workshops on a variety of issues concerning Jews in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere. The young leaders will also fan out on Capitol Hill Monday to meet with their Senators and Congressmen.