LOS ANGELES (Feb. 17)
The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council praised the Reagan administration on Monday for deciding to "press energetically to advance" the Middle East peace process even approaching the end of Reagan’s term.
The peace initiative, which has received mixed reviews in both the Arab world and Israel, calls for an acceleration of the Camp David autonomy plan for the Palestinians living in Israeli-administered territory and Arab-Israeli negotiations arising from an international conference for Mideast peace.
The gratitude of the national coordinating body for Jewish community relations was contained in a letter from its chairman, Michael Pelavin of Flint, Mich, to Secretary of State George Shultz. NJCRAC was meeting here Feb. 13-17 in a plenary session.
The letter also welcomed what it said were Shultz’s "personal efforts to reinvigorate the peace process and to find the means for bringing Israelis and Arabs together for direct face-to-face negotiations."
Except for the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, "The resolve to make peace with Israel is what has been missing in the Arab world these last 40 years," said the letter, representing the unanimous view of 11 national and 114 communal member agencies of NJCRAC.
On the other hand, the letter noted, "the genuine desire for peace. . . crosses all political boundaries" in Israel.
REASSESSMENT OF RELATIONSHIP URGED
Combatting potential Israel-Jewish diaspora divisiveness was Pelavin’s concern on Tuesday. In an address to the plenary, he urged "a fundamental re-examination" of "the institutional framework necessary" for carrying out relations between the two communities.
He said that the relationship has been strained around issues such as the role of Zionism, the application of democracy in Israel’s governance, Jewish identity, the Palestinian issue and Israel’s relationship with South Africa.
Pelavin said American Jews, particularly the younger ones, no longer "look upon Israel with awe."
He described the dialogue between Israeli elected leaders and diaspora Jewish communal volunteer leaders as unique but asymmetrical. He noted also that the institutions that carry on the relationship — including the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization — preceded the establishment of Israel.
He recommended that the NJCRAC constituent agencies explore whether to develop other means of communications — particularly in aiding the development of Israel’s "voluntary sector that fosters the ideals and values we share in common." As precedent he noted the affiliations between diaspora religious and Zionist organizations and counterparts in Israel.