Jewish Groups Assail Javits
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Jewish Groups Assail Javits

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Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) received scathing criticism from some Jewish organizations, but guarded support from others for his speech on the Senate floor Thursday in which he said that Israel’s response to the American questions on the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was “a disappointment.”

The most vociferous denunciation came from the American Jewish Congress which accused the Senator, one of Israel’s most consistent and staunchest Congressional supporters, of “climbing aboard the ‘let’s put more pressure on Israel’ bandwagon.” The AJCongress said it “strongly” disagrees “with his statement that it is up to Israel to ‘come forward with a more precise statement of its views.'” According to the AJCongress “Israel has offered a for-reaching proposal for a solution of the West Bank issue….It is up to those who claim to speak for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza not Israel to give a ‘precise statement’ of their views. Sen. Javits would have been better advised to offer his advice to the leaders of Jordan and Egypt. Israel’s plan is on the table. Let the others now respond,” the AJCongress said.

But Rabbi Alexander Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said Javits’ speech “makes many valid points.” He added, however, “I wish he had made the resumption of negotiations the focus. Why should Israel make more and more clarification before the process of negotiations?” Schindler asked.

Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, noted that Javits is “a very very good friend of Israel.”He added that he hoped the Senator’s remarks would encourage the Israeli government to offer “further clarification” regarding the future of the West Bank and Gaza.

However, Harold M. Jacobs, president, and Fred Ehrman, chairman, of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, asked Javits to reconsider his position on Israel’s response. Jacobs observed that “social and political changes may occur” during the period of autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel has proposed and therefore “it would be very unwise for Israel to commit itself to a specific course of action five years from now.”


(The concern that Javits’ speech aroused in Israel was reflected in an editorial in the mass circulation Maariv today which observed that the Senator from New York, a state with a large Jewish population, would not have criticized Israel without a preliminary investigation of the current feelings on the issue among Jews and non-Jews. “Whoever doubted reports that American Jewry is not as united as one behind Israel may now have cause to re-think, “Maariv said. It added: “No doubt Javits has strengthened the hand of the Administration. When a Republican Senator contributes such help to the Democratic President there are no doubt reasons. There is no doubt that not only in the U.S. there is a certain amount of reservation as to the (Israeli) government’s policy, “Maariv said. The editorial also referred to an article in the Jewish Chronicle of London, the organ of the Anglo-Jewish community, which not only criticized the Israeli government’s policy but called for the establishment of a Palestinian sovereignty.)

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