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Israel May Become Scapegoat of the West, Dr. Mordecai Kaplan Warns

April 30, 1958
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“The Zionist movement must undertake a massive, intensive educational effort among the statesmen of the Western world in order to avert the danger that Israel may become the Czechoslovakia of this era, “Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, noted Jewish philosopher, today told the 58th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America being held here. Some 600 Conservative rabbis are attending the four-day convention.

Asserting that world opinion of Israel will “ultimately depend on what Israel means to the Jew,” the founder of the Reconstructionist movement said that opinion in the Western world regarding Israel is no less “frightening” than that in the Soviet orbit. Just as the Jew has often been the scapegoat of Western civilization, Dr. Kaplan added, there is a great danger that Israel may become the scapegoat of the West.

He expressed the fear that this might occur because the United States, inheriting the “blunders that Britain and France had made in the Arab world,” might perpetuate them through a “futile policy of appeasing Arab nationalism.”

Dr. Kaplan expressed the view that the “establishment of the State of Israel had created a new division” between Jews outside Israel and those living in it. Analyzing the role of world Jewry in relation to Israel, he said “many Jews outside Israel no longer feel a sense of responsibility for the state, many Israeli Jews no longer feel a sense of responsibility for Jews who do not migrate to Israel.” As a “disbanded people” threatened by further divisions, he warned, “the future of world Jewry is precarious.”

The religious leader averred that Israel could confer on the Jews of the world a spiritual status only if it became a “catalytic agent for the reconstitution of the Jewish people,” which was presently disintegrating. Zionism, he insisted, was the force best qualified to “reconstitute the continuity, spirituality and structure of Jewish life.”

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