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36 Brandeis U. Faculty, Staff Members Take Issue with the Policies of the Begin Government

April 25, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Thirty-six members of the faculty and staff of the Brandeis University, all identified as having contributed to the current annual campaign of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston, have released a letter questioning key elements of the policies of Premier Menachem Begin’s government and declaring that “we make a clear distinction between the policies of the Begin government and the people of Israel.”

The protest letter was sent to Ruth Fein, president of the CJP, and released to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The letter declared:

“As members of the faculty and staff of Brandeis University, we have recently been solicited to contribute to CJP in Boston, part of whose funds go to support welfare activities in Israel. This solicitation comes at a time when we are seriously concerned about recent events and policies in the State of Israel.

“These necessarily affect our feelings about continuing to give to CJP. While we have not resolved all our doubts, we are continuing our support with a contribution. Therefore, we feel compelled to communicate to the leadership of the campaign views which we believe should be taken into account for the future.”


The letter continued:

“We are committed to the State of Israel, its security, and the strong moral standing it has long held as a nation.

“We believe that the Palestinian people have been deprived of elementary rights by the nations of the world, not least by the Arab countries in which most of them have lived since 1948. While Israel must protect its citizens from attacks, its long-range security requires a resolution of the Palestinian problem, as well as acceptance of Israel by the Arab countries.

“The fact that the PLO (as distinct from the Palestinians) and the Arab nations have thus far refused to negotiate does not justify policies of the Begin government which makes discussions virtually impossible at a time when there are such possibilities.

“We reject the concept of a ‘Greater Israel’ which would have the effect of making a million Arabs on the West Bank a hostile and fast-growing minority within Israel and would make of Israel a permanent garrison state.”


The letter noted that “a stumbling block in the coming years” concerns the West Bank settlements. “Continuation of the settlement policy or annexation of that territory (whatever the euphemism or legality) is detrimental to the possibility of achieving peace with one hundred million Arabs and to the long-range security of the State of Israel,” the letter stated.

“We make a clear distinction between the policies of the Begin government and the people of Israel. Unfortunately, that distinction has not always been made, and it is sometimes suggested that to support the people of Israel, one must uncritically support the government’s policies. This we refused to do or accept.”

The letter to the CJP was signed by Bernard Reisman and Robert Perlman. Among the signatories were Rabbi Albert Axelrad, Naomi Bass, Lawrence Fuchs and Martin Halpern.

Copies of the letter were addressed to Yuval Metser. Consul General of Israel in Boston; Yehuda Avner, c/o the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem; Irving Bernstein, executive vice chairman of the United Jewish Appeal; and to the office of Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.

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