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Jewish Leaders Denounce Vote

June 22, 1981
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American Jewish leaders reacted with great anger over the weekend to the UN Security Council’s resolution

condemning Israel for its destruction of Iraq’s nucclear reactor and blasted the Reagan Administration for supporting it.

Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, declared: “We are dismayed that our country decided to vote in the UN Security Council to condemn Isreal for taking action to avert the threat of nuclear holocaust. Although the U.S. delegation to the United Nations deserves credit for acting to insure that the Security Council resolution imposes no sanctions on the Jewish state, it is distressing to find this country appearing to uphold a claim of injury by Iraq, a nation that has persistently proclaimed itself to be at war with Israel and that has continuously committed itself to the destruction of Israel.”

Squadron observed that “We had been led to expect stronger resistance to the Arab-Soviet-Third World majority that has regularly perverted the peacekeeping purposes of the Security Council by using it as a one-side forum for attacks on Israel.”

Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, stated: “we are profoundly disappointed and shocked at the role played by the United States in the formulation and ultimate adoption of the latest Security Council resolution condemning Israel. It is indeed disheartening that this Administration, which has consistently articulated a positive attitude toward Israel, could be party to the writing and passage of such a one-sided resolution which maligns one of America’s most loyal and steadfast allies.”

Nathan Perlmutter, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rtih, called the vote “a charade” and “well-intentioned hypocrisy.” He said that while the United States succeeded in rendering the resolution “toothless” this country nevertheless should not have lent itself to a “moral condemnation of an act of self-defense.” Because Iraq was clearly moving toward a nuclear capability aimed at Israel, Perlmutter said, the U.S. should have opposed “even a de-fanged resolution condemning Israel.”

Maynard Wishner, president of the American Jewish Committee declared: “We deeply regret that the United States has voted for the UN resolution condemning Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor. We believe such a vote is particularly inappropriate when our own government has only just begun its hearings on whether or not this was a legitimate defensive act by Israel. Nor is it consistent with President Reagan’s recognition that Israel had reason for concern in view of the past history of Iraq.”

Jack Spitzer, president of B’nai B’rith International, called the UN resolution “incomprehensible.” Spitzer expressed concern at the failure of the Security Council to address the problem of nuclear proliferation in the Mideast. “The UN has once again failed to consider … the very real potential for the spread of nuclear weapons into the hands of unstable and aggressive leaders like Saddam Hussein of Iraq. There is an alarming need for more effective international safeguards against nuclear proliferation which should include an evaluation of whether a nation’s program is for peaceful energy purposes,” he said.

Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) asserted that the Council’s resolution is “unjust and uncalled for.” Contending that “Israel’s ‘crime’ was to eliminate the threat of nuclear war in the Middle East,” Schindler declared that “The United Nations is infamous for its hypocrisy in damning Israel no matter what it does, while ignoring the continuing acts of aggression and violations of human rights perpetrated by members of the Arab-Soviet bloc. What is new — and deeply distressing — is the spectacle of America joining Israel’s sworn enemies in condemning our country’s friend and ally,” Schindler said.

Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the Jewish National Fund, called the American vote in the UN “deeply disappointing. Our country will rue the day when it embraced the murderous pro-Soviet regime in Baghdad and turned its back on the one free and democratic state in the Middle East.”

Rabbi Walter Wurzburger, president of the Synagogue Council of America, charged that “the present administration in Washington, which promised no double standards at the United Nations, has joined the blatant hypocrisy of UN voices in calling for Israel to pay reparations for its defense raid on Iraq.” He added that “there should be payment. The nations of the world should refund Israel the cost of the raid on Iraq which was an heroic service to the world’s quest for peace.”

Ivan Novick, president of the Zionist Organization of America, noting that Mrs. Kirkpatrick, in a television interview, had called the acceptable resolution, “the lesser of two evils,” asserted that both options, “sanctions or condemnations of Israel, were evil decisions and both of them deserved to be rejected outright by the United States.”

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