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Lelyveld Urges American Jewish Congress to Support Non-violent Protest Movements

May 15, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the American Jewish Congress, told that organization’s 50th anniversary biennial convention here tonight that “we must welcome the rising voices of the poor who want to help decide the kind of system they need” and should therefore support non-violent movements of the poor, the Negroes and students as “part of a great democratic movement of people who want to help decide their own fate.” In the keynote address to the convention, Rabbi Lelyveld declared that “as Jews, we know that we are free and secure only when every man may live in dignity and peace – and only when each person has the freedom to help work out his own destiny.” The sessions will continue through Sunday.

The AJC leader, in a review of the Middle East situation, warned that there would be no peace in the area until the Arab nations understood the essential requirement which was Israel’s right to live. He told the convention that “Israel cannot negotiate with itself – nor should she be required to surrender before the bargaining begins. The Arab refusal to sit down at the peace table is an extension of 20 years of Arab hostility and a continuing insistence on a state or war.”

The 500 delegates assembled at the convention heard Rabbi Lelyveld call on the United States Government to offer a cease-fire in Vietnam and set an example of de-escalation by ceasing all bombing of North Vietnam as a major step toward peace. “Only when America abandons the unhappy and unsuccessful instrument of massive military force, will we find it possible to bring to bear with full effectiveness, the force of our country’s democratic ideal,” he declared.

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