American Jewish Committee to Sponsor Arab Contacts at New Office in Jerusalem
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American Jewish Committee to Sponsor Arab Contacts at New Office in Jerusalem

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The American Jewish Committee announced here today, as its national executive board closed its four day western regional conference, that it will move its Israel headquarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “to help foster personal contact and intergroup relations between Israelis and Arabs in Jerusalem.” The announcement was made by Judge Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., chairman of the organization’s committee on Israel.

Declaring that Jerusalem is not only the spiritual and cultural center of Israel but also representative of the country’s center “where the action is,” Judge Tannenwald said the AJC is “particularly concerned with the intergroup aspects of face-to-face meetings of Israelis and Arabs in Jerusalem, since the old and new sectors were unified under Israel’s jurisdiction in the wake of the June war.”

To help foster personal contact and intergroup relations between Israelis and Arabs in Jerusalem, Judge Tannenwald said, the AJC had arranged with Jerusalem’s Mayor Teddy Kollek to cooperate in a special program, to be headed by a fulltime intergroup specialist. Under the auspices of this joint AJC-Jerusalem municipality project, doctors, lawyers, business leaders and youth groups of the Jewish and former Arab sector of the city are being brought together. Other similar projects will be taken on, once the AJC office has been moved to Jerusalem, he added. The AJC office in Israel was established in November, 1961, “to help meet the growing need for effective channels of communication between the Jews of Israel and the United States.” It arranges numerous lectures, seminars, roundtable discussions and film showings in kubbutzim as well as in the major cities, and has contributed to radio programs describing Jewish life in the United States and elsewhere.

The committee has sponsored Ammot (Evaluations), a bi-monthly journal, published in Hebrew in cooperation with an independent board of intellectual leaders. A monthly bulletin, Tfutsot Yisrael (Jewish Communities Abroad), is distributed to editors, opinion-makers, and teachers, and has been cited by Prime Minister Eshkol as a prime source of information about Jewish life throughout the world. The AJC has also sponsored a three-year comprehensive study at Hebrew University on the nature and extent of Jewish identity among Israeli youth and their attitudes toward Jews in other countries. The findings will be made public shortly.

Judge Tannenwald this morning discussed the impact of the Six-Day War of last June on the American Government’s Middle East policy. In that panel discussion, under the chairmanship of Arthur Greenberg, of Los Angeles, Judge Tannenwald called on the U.S. Government to pursue two aims vis-a-vis the Middle-East in the near future. The Soviet Union, he said, must be kept “in line by letting it know that there is a limit in the Middle East beyond which it cannot go.” Secondly, he advised, the U.S.A. must make efforts to exploit the moderate elements of the Arab world,” including Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and “possibly Egypt.”

Philip Bernstein, executive director of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, recalled before the panel “the unprecedented support” given Israel during the 1967 crisis through the purchase of Israel bonds, volunteer services in Israel and in the U.S.A., and the cooperation of synagogues and many other Jewish organizations.

Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum, the AJC’s director of interreligious affairs, declared that, contrary to some views held in the Jewish community, “the Christians, by and large, did well by Israel” during the crisis. “I am prepared,” he said, “to settle for the present state of Christian public opinion in its support of Israel.”


Other highlights of the parley were an address at the annual dinner last night by Morris B. Abram, president of the AJC, sharply castigating French President Charles de Gaulle for “giving the lie” to his country’s traditional support of human rights, through his statement of last week criticizing not only Israel but the Jews in general; and an address at the closing luncheon today by Shimon Peres, Israel’s former Deputy Minister of Defense, who declared that Israel sees no prospects of peace with the Arabs in the near future, due to “internal rivalries and instability in the Arab world.”

Bertram H. Gold, executive director of the AJC, outlined an eight-point program to fight anti-Semitism. Addresses were also delivered by Detroit’s Mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh, who analyzed the reasons why racial violence hit so many cities, including his own, last summer; and an examination of the recent instances of racial strife in this country by Nathan Perlmutter, director of the AJC’s department of domestic affairs.

In his address, “Mr. Abram, who is the United States member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, pointed out that France had strongly supported the U.N.’s draft declaration and convention for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, and had lined up with those United Nations members that would call on all states to combat all prejudices, including anti-Semitism. Now, he said, through his statement at a Paris press conference last week, “Gen de Gaulle not only has failed to provide leadership against intolerance, he is promoting it when he describes Jews as ‘domineering’ and suggests they would open the way to ‘campaigns of discrimination.”

Gen. de Gaulle’s attitude, charged Mr. Abram, has evoked the themes of the Dreyfus case. “De Gaulle,” he stated, “the leader of the French resistance during World War II, should know the terrible consequences of political anti-Semitism, which he saw for himself in his own fight against the barbarism. of Nazism. He knows that Nazi anti-Semitism disrupted European civilization and sent millions to death. He of all people should be leading the fight for tolerance and understanding. Instead, he is undermining the civic unity of France and creating a threat to human rights everywhere.”


In his program for combating anti-Semitism, Mr. Gold proposed: 1) Creation of an anti-Semitism accounting system “bringing together and systematizing all existing data on the subject” so that “an early warning system” can be constructed and counteraction planned; 2) Sponsorship of a thorough study of the basis of group anti-Semitism, a study comparable in scope to the Committee’s sponsorship a generation ago of individual psychopathology that was detailed in the “Studies in Prejudice”; 3) Development of new and imaginative methods of conducting quick research into critical areas of anti-Semitism to permit swift insights that can have immediate use; 4) Assumption of an active role in exposing anti-Semitic groups infiltrating the nation’s political parties, by the establishment of training institutes for political leaders — on a nonpartisan basis — to impart such information that experts possess on political extremism; 5) Increase in efforts to achieve a constructive coalition with the Negro middle class, “with whom we have intellectual kinship and with whom we can most easily communicate,” and who “can exercise important influence within their own community”; 6) An examination by Jews of what they have learned about Jewish group identity that can be useful to Negroes in their own struggle for identity; 7) An effort to help Jewish shopkeepers leave the ghetto, possibly through governmental assistance or through local Jewish federations. Studies of Negro attitudes, Mr. Gold explained, indicate that the highest degree of Negro anti-Semitism exists among the poor, who see the Jewish shopkeepers as exploiters and as a bar to their own control of the ghetto; and 8) Reassessment of overseas activities to make certain that the American Jewish Committee is still “on target” in meeting the new dimensions of anti-Semitism the world over.


Mr. Peres, who is secretary-general of Israel’s Rafi Party, which is headed by former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, told the session that, “at present, Egypt is the most important factor in the Middle East” and the key to peace there. He noted that Jordan’s King Hussein “faces opposition both within and outside his borders’ and “must decide how independent he is, not how loyal he is to Nasser. We will negotiate with Hussein as an independent ruler, not as a representative of Nasser, with whom we would prefer to meet directly.”

Mr. Peres, said that Israel insists on direct talks with the Arabs “because a third party inevitably brings an element of self-interest into negotiations that further complicates matters.” He said that a U.N. personage “can be used only as a channel of communications, not in a policy-making role.” As a precedent for direct talks, Mr. Peres recalled the bilateral armistice agreements that were reached between Israel and the Arab states after the 1948 war. “This time our goal is peace, but the technique should be the same,” he said.

Mr. Gold announced that Hyman H. Bookbinder, until now deputy director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and “one of the chief architects of the Federal anti-poverty program,” has been appointed Washington representative of the AJC.

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