NEW YORK (Dec. 15)
With few exceptions, major American Jewish groups said Thursday they understood U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz’s decision to allow “substantive talks” between representatives of the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith said the United States is “living up to its commitments.” Both the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee said Shultz acted “correctly.” The Union of American Hebrew Congregations called the decision a “victory” for Shultz.
But while agreeing that the PLO seemed to have accepted the U.S. government’s conditions for dialogue, nearly all the groups released statements demanding that PLO leader Yasir Arafat be made to match his “magic words” with deeds.
“The PLO has to show through deeds that it has finally come to terms with Israel’s existence and intends to pursue the path of peace and eschew violence,” said Warren Eisenberg, director of the International Council of B’nai B’rith.”
Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said at a news conference Thursday that Secretary of State George Shultz believed “honestly” that Arafat had met U.S. demands for dialogue, as outlined in a 1975 U.S. Memorandum of Agreement with Israel.
But in a statement drafted at a Thursday morning meeting with representatives of the 46 Conference of Presidents constituent organizations, Abram said that the PLO should now be made to repudiate its National Covenant.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which said the PLO “may have met America’s technical conditions,” said another “necessary action” would be that the PLO turn over Mohammed (Abul) Abbas to Italy. He is wanted there in connection with the terrorist attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro.
Even the often hard-line Zionist Organization of America refrained from directly criticizing Shultz, although it called his decision “trouble-some” and a “sobering reality.”
Only two of the larger organizations issuing statements Thursday, the World Zionist Organization-American Section and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, were critical of the U.S. decision.