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Growing ‘jewish Isolationism’ in U.S. Deplored at Jerusalem Parley

June 13, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, opened an American-Israeli “dialogue” here today with a warning that growing “Jewish isolationism” in the U.S. threatens both the vitality of American Jewry and the development of closer cultural ties between the American Jewish community and Israel.

He spoke at the first session of a three-day conference in Jerusalem’s Convention Hall at which nearly 1,000 American Jews and Israelis will exchange ideas on strengthening relations between the two communities. The conference is being sponsored by the American Jewish Congress in cooperation with the Government of Israel. In his presentation at the opening session this evening, Dr. Prinz, made these main points:

1. Increasing numbers of young American Jews are attracted to the “alluring philosophy of self-sufficiency,” believing that they comprise”a self-contained religious sect which can continue to live happily without any identification with Jews outside the United States aside from, perhaps, philanthropic considerations.” This view, Dr. Prinz said, “threatens ultimately to destroy American Jewry as it has grown and developed in this country.”

2. Because of this growing belief, Israel cannot take for granted that it will be able to rely upon American Jewry in ten or twenty years as they can now. “The young American Jewish generation is not yet ‘sold’ on Israel,” Dr. Prinz. declared. He urged intensified tourism and a program offering a year’s study in Israel to American Jewish university students as part of a long-range plan to establish “tens of thousands of personal relationships between Jews in the United States and Israel.”

3. Jewish immigration to Israel will remain small, and Israel officials should accept this fact. “It is historically wrong and factually inaccurate to apply the ideology of European Zionism to the American Jewish scene,” the American Jewish Congress leader declared. He emphasized that “American Jews are still subjected to discrimination in some fields, but while American Jews have many problems, anti-Semitism in America is not one of them.”

4. While Jewish group existence is not in danger in America, “the meaning and the content of this group existence is jeopardized by ignorance of the Jewish heritage among many Jews.” In this area, Dr. Prinz said, Israel can play a major role in strengthening cultural ties with American Jews through spreading knowledge of Hebrew and similar programs of Jewish education.

The American Jewish Congress leader said that many American Jews are concerned with the role of religious groups in the political affairs of Israel. There is disappointment among many American Jews with the fact that “for Israel’s religious leaders the concern with ritual and tradition seems to outweigh the deeper concerns of peace and war, of justice and compassion, racism and prejudice, juvenile delinquency and other social ills,” he declared.

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