New York (Nov. 14)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has called on American Jewish leaders to continue agitating for the return of Israeli soldiers missing in action.
Rabin addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Sunday in New York.
Rabin’s plea for the missing Israeli soldiers followed an emotional appeal from Joseph Katz, whose son, Yehuda, was one of three Israeli soldiers captured in a 1982 Lebanon tank battle.
The prime minister repeated Israel’s demand that the Palestine Liberation Organization provide information on the missing soldiers, even though he said the PLO "has no influence on what’s going on in Syria," where the soldiers may be held.
Israeli officials have played down information recently presented by the PLO, according to which Katz and his two tank mates are dead, and a fourth missing soldier, aviator Ron Arad, is being held by Syria.
"It is our responsibility to bring them home," said Rabin of the missing, and not to "let world public opinion, American public opinion, ignore this problem."
Rabin also called on the Jewish leaders to raise public opinion against the Arab economic boycott of Israel.
In this, the prime minister took a different tack than did Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who on his visit to New York last month played down the importance of the boycott.
Addressing the issue of economic development, Rabin called on members of the Jewish community to "take care of ourselves. Increase your efforts to support Israel."
"Don’t lead in supporting the Palestinians. We are for joint ventures, but let the world, the Arab countries, the rich Arab countries, take care of them," he said. "Let them find funds to cope with the Palestinian problem."
Lester Pollack, chairman of the Conference of Presidents, told the meeting that the conference’s National Committee for Israeli MIAs and POWs will increase its efforts.
In a novel effort along those lines, pictures of the missing soldiers will be appearing this month on milk cartons produced by a dairy in the New York City borough of Queens.