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U.S. Orthodox Rabbis Warn Israel About Dangers of Accord with PLO

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A delegation of leading Orthodox rabbis from the United States traveled to Israel this week to warn against the dangers of the accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Leading a so-called “emergency mission” was Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik, a senior member of Yeshiva University’s Talmud faculty who in a private meeting Tuesday tried to convince Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that the current peace process is plagued with peril.

“He didn’t persuade me, nor did I persuade him,” the rabbi, who uses a wheelchair, said at a news conference the delegation called following the meeting.

The session with Rabin occurred the day before the prime minister was scheduled to meet in Cairo with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Soloveitchik said Jews everywhere have a tie to the land of Israel and an obligation to speak up when it is in danger.

He said he told Rabin that all those who have remained silent and allowed the agreement with the PLO to unfold will have the blood of their brothers on their hands because of the Jewish victims of PLO terrorism.

Soloveitchik said he would urge the settlers in the territories to resort to passive resistance in the face of the accord but to eschew violence.

The rabbis said they came to Israel to express not only their own outrage over the accord but that of their constituents in America.

According to a survey conducted last month by the American Jewish Committee, only 51 percent of Orthodox Jews support the general outlines of the Israel-PLO accord, as opposed to 74 percent of the American Jewish community as a whole.

‘EVERYONE WANTS PEACE,’ BUT ‘IS THIS PEACE?’

“Everyone wants peace,” said Rabbi Max Schreier of Brooklyn, a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America. “The question is, is this peace?”

He said opposition to the agreement was shared by most “Torah leaders” in the United States.

Both the Rabbinical Council and the National Council of Young Israel have expressed opposition to the Israel-PLO accord. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America has not taken a position on it.

“We are concerned about the (peace) process because it was unnecessarily hurried,” said Rabbi David Algazi of Queens.

“It doesn’t take into account the worries of the Jewish community here and abroad,” he said.

Algazi said he understands that Israelis are tired of a constant state of war. But he said that is all the more reason for outsiders with a clear head to step in and sound a warning.

“We can see things more objectively,” he said.

Rabbi Jay Marcus, spiritual leader of Young Israel of Staten Island, decried what he called the Israeli government’s efforts to “disparage and delegitimize” the settlers, whom the rabbis described as depressed and discouraged.

He called it a “terrible failure of leadership” and pledged that “we will assume responsibility for appeals for money from the territories.”

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