Three Thousand Delegates Gather for CJF Assembly in San Francisco

Close to 3,000 leaders from some 200 Jewish communities in the United States and Canada who are gathered here for their annual meeting heard warnings about strained Israeli relations with the Bush administration, but also reassurances that the basic ties between Washington and Jerusalem remain strong.

Leading the Israeli presence at the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, dubbed the Parliament of North American Jewry, was President Chaim Herzog, who arrived here from his state visit to Japan with a case of the flu and a barely audible voice.

Herzog did attend a private reception Wednesday evening, hosted by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, but canceled a press conference Thursday morning with student editors of college newspapers. He was expected to address the Commonwealth Club and the plenary of the CJF later in the day.

Standing in for Herzog at the press conference, Zalman Shoval, Israel’s new ambassador to the United States, criticized people, in and out of Washington, “who know better what is good for Israel than the Israelis.”

Shoval questioned whether some U.S. policy-makers had a true understanding of Israel’s real problems, and said he hoped for better communications between the two countries so that misunderstandings could be nipped in the bud.

During the assembly’s opening plenary on Wednesday evening, delegates heard a ringing appeal from Mendel Kaplan, the Jewish Agency chairman, that future CJF assemblies be convened in Jerusalem.

Other Israeli personalities participating in the conference are Moshe Nissim, minister of Industry and Trade, who is to address a forum on Israeli economic development. On Friday afternoon, Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are to speak on electoral reform in Israel.

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