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Goldmann Raps U.S. Jews for Antagonizing USSR on Jewish Issue

November 3, 1976
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, last night criticized American Jewry for antagonizing the Soviet Union over the Jewish emigration issue. He said that he agreed with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger that the adoption of the Jackson Vanik Amendment caused the present decrease in Jewish emigration from the USSR.

Goldmann’s remarks were made in response to questions from Rabbi William Berkowitz during the Dialogue ’76 lecture series at Manhattans Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. The WJC leader said that the Jews in the United States should continue their propaganda for the right of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union as well as for Jewish cultural, educational and religious rights within the USSR.

But, Goldmann stressed that he opposed such “extreme” methods as comparing the Soviet Union to Hitler’s Germany, picketing and violence against Soviet diplomats. He said that the Soviet Union is still one of the three major powers in the world and Jews must maintain diplomatic relations with it. He said that while the USSR could not alone impose peace in the Middle East it could sabotage any peace attempt.


Goldmann said he was also concerned that American Jewry stressed its public roll too much while not concentrating on its religious, cultural and educational life, which he said was essential for Jewish survival. He said in this connection that he had always been concerned that the leadership of American Jewry was dominated by the wealthy. He said that American Jewish intellectuals feel they cannot participate in the Jewish leadership because they cannot afford the necessary financial contributions.

Asked about the Middle East, Goldmann said that now was the most opportune time for the United States to seek to bring about a final peace settlement. He said such a settlement would require Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories. As for Jerusalem, Goldmann said that the city should remain united under Israeli administration but that the Old City should have a special status such as the Vatican has in Rome with its residents carrying special passports.

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