JERUSALEM (May. 24)
The new president of the American Jewish Congress emerged from a meeting Tuesday with Premier Yitzhak Shamir saying his organization is still at odds with Israel government policies, particularly in the administered territories.
Robert Lifton told reporters that the AJCongress still had its differences with the Likud leader, but described their meeting as “cordial.”
AJCongress was one of the few American Jewish groups to publicly criticize Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s policy of using “force, might, beatings” against Arab rioters in the administered territories.
The organization also released a policy statement last Sept. 21, endorsing an international conference for Middle East peace to serve as the framework for Arab-Israeli negotiations.
Then, as now, the issue sharply divided Israel’s unity coalition government.
Lifton told reporters Tuesday that AJCongress still maintains that American Jewish organizations have the right to speak out on issues that are subject to public debate in Israel, such as the way the government handles the present Arab uprising in the administered territories.
“I think a lot of people in the American Jewish community have come to the conclusion that the status quo cannot continue,” Lifton said in a Voice of Israel Radio interview.
He noted that recent polls taken among American Jews showed that a majority believes territorial compromise is consistent with Israel’s security needs.