Decline in Zionist Self-confidence is Inimical to U.S. Jewish Community

A decline in American Jewish self-confidence in Zionism and Israel is even more dangerous to the Jewish community in this country than the wavering politics of Washington about Israel, the irrational and fanatical violence of the Arab world or the continuing enmity of Communism, according to Rabbi Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Speaking at the opening session yesterday of the 76th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, of which he is himself a member, Sternstein said that he “fears the possibilities of eroding self-confidence within the Jewish community as something more dangerous than anything affecting us from without. Far more challenging than confronting and vindicating itself before a hostile and bigoted world, Zionism must once again mount a spiritual and ideological onslaught on the Jewish community,” he said.

Declaring that the Zionist movement “has been apologetic too long, placatory too much,” he asserted that “the Zionist movement must again assert its position of leadership in Jewish life. Zionism is the only movement able to infuse Jewry with the requisite strength.”

In another address at the convention, Rabbi Hertzel Fishman said that major national Jewish organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world “should accredit qualified representatives to Israel, just as foreign ambassadors represent their own states in Israel.” He added: “If ambassadors of foreign governments in Israel are able to lobby with the Israeli government in all areas affecting Israeli life…why should major Jewish communities and organizations in the diaspora, through their representatives, be entitled to less?”

Fishman is the director of Israel’s department of international affairs of the Ministry of Education and Culture and coordinator between the ministry and the Jewish Agency in the field of Jewish education in the diaspora. A former chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Israel, he is now a resident of Israel.