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Jewish Agency Assembly Backs Current Law of Return, Pushes Stronger Fund Ban for Non-zionist Groups

The Jewish Agency Assembly ended its week-long session here Sunday with adoption of a resolution affirming that the Law of Return be “retained in its present form.”

The resolution, carried by a large majority despite vociferous protests by an American Orthodox leader, Rabbi Louis Bernstein, was a flat rejection of efforts by the Orthodox religious establishment and their parties in the Knesset to amend the law to invalidate conversions performed by non-Orthodox rabbis.

It referred to and reaffirmed the text first adopted by the Assembly in 1985 that warned that “any change in the Law of Return may fracture the unity of the Jewish people.”

Another controversial resolution, adopted by a substantial majority Thursday, reaffirmed the Assembly’s determination to channel funds only to Zionist educational institutions. It allows funding only “to those Jewish schools, programs, yeshivot and institutions… which recognize Zionist principles and support the State of Israel as the national and Zionist homeland of the Jewish people at this time.”

ITS AIM APPARENT

The text did not cite any specific Zionist criteria, but was clearly aimed at ultra-Orthodox yeshivas which are non-Zionist or challenge Zionism on religious or ideological grounds.

A draft resolution critical of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors for not effectively enforcing a previous resolution on the subject was voted down.

But the adopted text implied strong dissatisfaction with the Board. It requires that “The appropriate Board of Governors Committee… should oversee the allocations so that … this resolution will be carried out in a timely and appropriate way.”

During an otherwise festive closing ceremony Sunday in the Knesset building, the Assembly unanimously passed a resolution deploring the meeting between Pope John Paul II and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim at the Vatican Thursday. It specifically condemned “the invitation to Waldheim,” noting “that Waldheim lied about his activity in the service of the Nazis…” The Assembly resolved to send the resolution to the Pope.

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