Jewish Groups Protest U.S. Role in U.N. Initiative Against Israel

American Jewish groups and Israeli officials have expressed deep concern about the active role the United States is playing in formulating a Security Council measure criticizing Israel for its handling of the riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Security Council members negotiated throughout the day Wednesday over the content of a proposed resolution that would condemn Israel for its suppression of the riots Monday, which resulted in the death of at least 19 Arabs and injury to more than 130 others.

The deliberations, which kept diplomats at the United Nations late into the night Tuesday, centered on two alternative draft resolutions, one of which was a version of a draft originally introduced by the United States.

The U.S. draft resolution states that the Security Council is “alarmed” by the violence that took place and is “deeply concerned that Israeli security forces responded excessively.” It would also welcome a decision by the U.N. secretary-general to send a mission to the region and requests that he report back to the Security Council once the mission returns.

Israeli sources said that if the U.S. draft wins backing from the other Security Council members, it will be formally introduced by the president of the council, Sir David Hannay of Britain, who already has worked on rewriting parts of the draft.

The other proposed draft was introduced by the non-aligned nations, with the backing of the Palestine Liberation Organization. That text brands Israeli actions at the Temple Mount “criminal” and calls for a three-member Security Council delegation to examine the situation in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declared Tuesday that Israel would not accept such a delegation.

AWAITING DECISION FROM PLO

Although the five permanent members of the Security Council back the U.S. draft, other members of the council reserved judgment until PLO leaders meeting in Tunisia decided whether they would accept the American alternative.

PLO leaders will either decide to push for the non-aligned version, risking a U.S. veto and possible abstentions, or to allow the U.S. version to pass.

U.S. participation in efforts to bring such a resolution to the Security Council floor is being viewed by Israeli officials and many American Jewish leaders as an attempt to preserve the unified Arab coalition against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein at the price of its support for Israel.

Johanan Bein, Israel’s acting U.N. representative, told reporters here that Israel was being treated as a “sacrificial lamb.”

American Jewish concern was reflected in a letter sent to President Bush by the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, which represents 11 national Jewish organizations and more than 100 community relations councils.

“We are deeply dismayed by the U.S. action at the U.N. Security Council in supporting passage of a resolution condemning the Israeli response to the recent riots in Jerusalem,” said the letter, which was signed by NJCRAC’s chairman, Arden Shenker.

The letter expressed “fear that in joining with those forces at the U.N. which routinely use that forum to isolate Israel diplomatically,” the Bush administration “may be contributing to the very phenomenon that you seek to avoid, namely diversion of central attention away from Iraq’s aggression.”

SABBATH OF PROTEST CALLED

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, representing 46 national Jewish groups, issued a statement calling the U.S.-proposed resolution “harsh and hypocritical,” and the American Jewish Congress accused the United States of “caving in to the political needs of our new-found Arab allies.”

A number of Orthodox Jewish organizations have declared Saturday, Oct. 20, a “Sabbath of Protest” against the U.S. actions in the United Nations.

The groups include the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Council of Young Israel and the Religious Zionists of America.

“The hypocrisy of the United Nations is not unusual,” Rabbi Marc Angel, president of the RCA, said in a statement. “American complicity in this hypocrisy, though, is something alarming.

“The United States has betrayed Israel, as it has betrayed its own honor and dignity as well,” said Angel. “Will oil and terrorism become the arbiters of justice in the world? The United States now seems to accept this frightening scenario.”

Other organizations issuing statements included B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and United Synagogue of America.

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