NEW YORK (Oct. 30)
Under the banner of “Peace for Peace: Emergency Coalition Against Unilateral Israeli Concessions,” over a dozen right-wing pro-Israel groups have come out in support of Israeli Prime Minister Shamir’s demand for peace without territorial compromise.
“If Arabs in the Middle East love their children, they have to respond to Israel with genuine, unconditional peace,” William Rapfogel said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the coalition’s formation.
Once the state of war between Israel and its neighbors has ended, the rest of the issues can be negotiated, said Rapfogel, who is director of the Institute of Public Affairs of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
“Peace for peace is such a simple concept, but it has been lost apparently in the diplomatic shuttle,” said Howard Weber, one of the organizers of the coalition.
Weber claimed that groups in the coalition speak for the majority of American Jewry. He noted that a recent American Jewish Committee poll found American Jews rejecting the trade of land for peace by a 45-27 percent margin.
Speakers at the news conference warned that American Jews soon will have to fight U.S. pressure on Israel of a sort not seen in many years.
“Mr. President, read my lips: Stop bashing Israel,” said Sister Rose Thering of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel and the National Council of American Nuns.
The most prominent coalition members are several Orthodox organizations. In addition to the Orthodox Union, they include the National Council of Young Israel, Rabbinical Council of America, Emunah Women and the Bnei Akiva youth group.
SHAMIR URGED TO BE FLEXIBLE
Also supporting the coalition are Americans for a Safe Israel, Jordan is Palestine Inc., Techiya/USA, Betar-Tagar, the Manhattan region of the Zionist Organization of America, the Coalition for Israel, the Jewish Political Caucus, the Society of Jewish Public Health Workers and the Council of Jewish Organizations in Civil Service.
The group also received messages of support from the Toronto Zionist Council, the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association and the Montana Association of Jewish Communities.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, 17 prominent American Jews called upon Shamir to compromise, to oppose new settlements and support land for peace.
In a statement organized by the International Center for Peace in the Middle East, they also called on the Palestinians and other Arabs to “clearly reaffirm their willingness to live in peace with the State of Israel.”
Signatories included authors Saul Bellow, E.L. Doctorow, Chaim Potok, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin and Philip Roth; Nobel laureates Kenneth Arrow, Joshua Lederberg and Arthur Kornberg; Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic; Henry Rosovsky, former dean of arts, Harvard University; Michael Walzer of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study; Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, expresident of the American Jewish Congress; Philip Klutznick, ex-president of the World Jewish Congress; and Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.