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Ousted Arab Mayors Appear at Tumultuous Session at Temple

June 6, 1980
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Under massive police protection, two Arab mayors deported from the West Bank after the terrorist ambush killing of six yeshiva students in Hebron last month, supported Palestine Liberation Organization terms for a Middle East peace at a tumultuous two-hour meeting held at Temple Sinai here last night. The mayors, Fahed Kawasme, of Hebron and Mohammed Milhim of Halhoul, are visiting the U.S. as part of their campaign to be allowed to return to their towns and a general attack on Israeli policies in the occupied territories.

Police ejected five persons from the temple after they denounced the speakers and the sponsors of the meeting. Police directed Zionist demonstrators outside the temple to lower their placards which read, “Hebron is Jewish.” A smoke bomb was placed inside the temple by unknown persons. Later, the Jewish Defense League took responsibility.

Kawasme and Milhim were asked, in the course of the meeting, whether they approved of PLO terrorists killing Israeli children and civilians. When Milhim contended that 99 percent of the children are killed by Israeli bullets,” the ball erupted with protests. Kawasme acknowledged in reply to other questions, that 22 Palestinians were executed while the West Bank was under Jordanian rule before 1967.

Rabbi Albert Axelrod, of Brandeis University, who was also on the speakers’ platform and referred to the mayors as “my cousins,” suggested that they denounce the PLO. “You could be agents of peace” in taking that position, he told them. Also on the platform was Hayim Baram, identified as an Israeli opposed to the policies of Premier Menachem Begin’s government. Milton Viorst, a political writer who was a leader of the New Outlook magazine’s seminar here last October critical of Israeli government policies, chaired the proceedings. Ten men wearing Arab headdress were reportedly in the temple but took no part in the meeting.

Marcus Laster, Temple Sinai’s executive director, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “Temple Sinai did not sponsor the function.” He said it was sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee for Middle East Dialogue. Laster said “It is the continuing policy of the congregation to allow open discussion” at the temple. Asked if the JDL or the Gush Emunim could use its facilities for a meeting, he said that would be up to the Rabbi, Eugene Lipman, the congregation and its president, D. Stephen Mayer. Laster said that advance information on the Arab mayors’ appearance was misleading in that it could have been interpreted that the meeting was sponsored by the temple.


Meanwhile, five Jewish organizations which support Jewish settlement on the West Bank issued a statement declaring that they “denounce in strongest possible terms the use of a Jewish institution, Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of providing a forum for these sworn enemies of Israel who are dedicated to its destruction.”

The statement called on “every Jew and non-Jew concerned about the future existence of the Jewish State to expose and boycott any and all activities on behalf of Arab representatives who seek to influence public opinion while supporting the modus operandi of murder and terror by the FLO whose sole purpose is the liquidation of Israel.”

The organizations are the Jewish Identity Center; Committee for Israel Rights (Cfir); the Aliya Movement Dedicated to the Settlement of the Land of Israel; the Emunah Women; and the Poale Aguda Israel.

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