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Riegner: Continued Improvements Between Wjc and Churches, 3rd World

November 4, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Gerhart M. Riegner, secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) today reported continued improvement in the organization’s relations with representatives of the Christian churches and with Third World countries, but declared that the WJC had been “forced again to pay increased attention to the fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

Riegner presented his survey of the world Jewish condition in a report on the WJC’s activities since its Plenary meeting in Jerusalem two and a half years ago, to the conference of the organization’s General Council here. The political action of the WJC, Riegner reported, has expanded in all directions.

“The increased economic and political power of the Arab states and the dangerous expansion of the Arab boycott against Israel and the countries trading with her has increased the need for systematic counteraction on a worldwide scale,” he declared. One of the “major contributions” of the WJC in this sphere, he said, was the setting up of an international anti-boycott committee to initiate measures to combat the practice, and coordinate activities of national affiliates in some 60 countries.

In reporting the expanded relations with the Third World, Riegner said that the WJC had realized “for quite some time that the increasing importance of the countries of Africa and Asia on the international scene make it necessary to remedy the mutual ignorance that generally exists between Jews and the peoples of the Third World.”


As to anti-Semitic manifestations in recent months, Riegner reported that “in some Latin American countries, acts of violence against synagogues and Jewish institutions, unjustified attacks on prominent Jewish figures, and a steady publication of anti-Semitic literature of the worst type have given rise to serious concern.” The anti-Jewish publications have been prohibited from time to time by the authorities, Riegner said, “only to be immediately replaced by publications of a similar kind.”

But “no less preoccupying are the anti-Semitic manifestations which have recently occurred in a number of European countries,” Riegner declared. Many publications denying or minimizing the tragedy of the Holocaust “in which six million Jews perished and accusing the Jews of having invented the tragedy in order to foster their own political aims are particularly dangerous and require determined action and increased vigilance on our part.”

On the issue of international diplomacy, Riegner explained that the WJC “has always welcomed every sign of a lessening of tensions between the great power blocs,” and “has followed this line particularly in regard to the Helsinki conference.” While “giving full support to all measures destined to lead to genuine detente, the Congress has insisted at the same time on the implementation of the provisions of the Helsinki agreement dealing with freer human contacts and movement and cooperation in the fields of information, culture and education.”

The WJC “is particularly happy,” Riegner said, “that, perhaps under the impact of the Helsinki agreement, relations with a number of Eastern European communities which do not belong to the Congress have improved and that observers of these communities are now regularly attending meetings of the WJC European Branch.”

A top priority of the World Jewish Congress has been given throughout to the struggle of securing for Soviet Jews “collectively and individually, full enjoyment of human rights without discrimination, especially the right of freedom of emigration, and the maintenance and development of the religious, national and cultural heritage of those who choose to stay in the USSR.” Riegner, reporting on contacts with Christian bodies, declared that ongoing relations have been established both with the Vatican and the World Council of Churches.

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