NEW YORK (Nov. 23)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir of Israel spoke throughout the city Sunday and Monday reiterating the major themes of his six-day U.S. visit — his invitation for direct peace negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan and opposition to an international Mideast peace conference, his call for Jewish immigration and for a solution to conflicts over Jewish identity, and support for Soviet Jews.
Addressing a Monday luncheon of the Foreign Policy Association at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Shamir warned that an international Mideast peace conference, with the participation of the Soviet Union and under the auspices of the United Nations, “would be a step away from peace.”
“Israel would be arraigned against a host of countries whose positions on an Arab-Israel settlement, we believe, are mortally dangerous to us,” he contended.
“An international conference can only result, therefore, in one of two ways: an Israeli capitulation and total withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, which is a prescription for war; or an Israeli walkout, which is a prescription for diplomatic isolation and world censure of Israel.”
‘DE FACTO PEACE’ WITH JORDAN
Asserting before 250 people that Israel and Jordan have been having a “de facto peace,” Shamir said he believes that a formal peace agreement with Jordan could be reached through direct negotiations.
In the questions-and-answers period following his speech, the premier said Israel has no objection to the participation of Palestinian Arabs in the peace talks between Israel and Jordan.
Shamir added that the Soviet Union cannot expect to play a role in reaching a peaceful solution between Israel and the Arabs until it renews its diplomatic relations with Israel. The Soviet Union broke diplomatic ties with Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.
In a Monday morning meeting with the New York Board of Rabbis at the Regency Hotel, Shamir addressed the issue of Jewish identity, saying Israel accepted all Jews.
“Every Jew, with absolutely no exception, is welcome to Israel and becomes an Israeli citizen under the Law of Return,” he said, which grants automatic Israeli citizenship to all Jews who seek it.
He added, however, that “there is a need to reach agreement on the recognition of conversion to Judaism. This should be done by consultation and a search for an understanding and agreement.”
A CALL TO EXPAND SETTLEMENTS
On Sunday night, upon receiving the Theodor Herzl Gold Medallion from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Shamir declared that Israel must “expand and strengthen” its settlements in Judaca, Samaria and the Gaza district.
Addressing more than 150 people at the Regency Hotel, Shamir stated: “We have sunk our roots in every part of ‘Eretz Israel’ — from the Golan to Eilat, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. We have established more than 200 villages and communities in Judaca, Samaria, and the Gaza district. They have to be expanded and strengthened by an influx of population.”
He brought up many of these same points that evening before a receptive crowd of 2,000 at Queens (N.Y.) College. But as he spoke, an equally large crowed of Hasidic men, who came by bus from the Satmar, Viznitz, Pupa, Zehlem and Vein Hasidic communities of Brooklyn and upstate New York, were protesting outside.
Their rally was organized by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada, a Brooklyn-based coalition of Hasidic sects founded by the late Satmar rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, according to spokesman Rabbi Yitzhok Glick.
Congress members are opposed to the State of Israel on religious grounds. The organization staged a similar rally last month during a visit by Israeli President Chaim Herzog.
On Sunday, the demonstrators set up a speaker’s platform and loudspeakers on two flatbed trucks, and participants carried signs reading “The rotten ideology of Zionism is in opposition to our Torah” and “Shamir does not speak for Jews.”
Similar slogans were spray-painted on the sidewalks surrounding the college, and some witnesses reported that eggs were thrown in the direction of the auditorium.
According to police, security was especially tight for the prime minister’s visit after the demonstration’s organizers alerted police that as many as 15,000 Hasidim might attend. No arrests or serious incidents were reported, according to a police spokesman.
The demonstrators could barely be heard inside the auditorium, where Shamir was interrupted 21 times by applause during his 30-minute address. However, he also was interrupted by an elderly man in a long gray beard, light suit and red yarmulke who shouted, “What about beating people up in Jerusalem?”
Shamir did not acknowledge the remark, which may have referred to charges of police brutality by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose demonstrations against what they call the desecration of the Sabbath by secular Israelis often end in confrontations with the police.
The Queens speech was sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
During his visit, Shamir also met in Washington, D.C., with President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz, and spoke in Miami Beach, Fla., to the 56th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations. He was scheduled to leave for Israel Monday night.