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Schindler: U.S. Jews Must Express Their Views Even if It Means Stirring ‘demons of Anti-semitism’

December 4, 1981
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Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregation (UAHC), says American Jews should “reject the council of timidity and never hesitate to state our views and vote our consciences,” even if it means stirring “the demons of anti-Semitism” raised during the recent debate over the sale of AWACS planes and other weaponry to Saudi Arabia.

In a Sabbath sermon, prepared for delivery at the UAHC’s 56th biennial assembly tomorrow night, Schindler asserts: “The strategy of subtly threatening Jews with a backlash if they don’t keep their mouths shut is part of a larger pattern of rising anti-Semitism in the United States and the world. Yet, to knuckle under to the hate-mongers out of fear of what they might do is to give them the victory they seek — and they will come back for more, like any blackmailers.”

In his message to the UAHC convention, the Reform leader describes a meeting with President Reagan in the White House last week where the President “took a great deal of time to assure me and other members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that he was not anti-Semitic. I believe the President,” Schindler states.

“But all Americans — not just Jewish Americans — are in trouble when the President of the United States has to do that. He must do it,” Schindler says, “because anti-Semitism is alive and ticking in this land.”


He continues: “The number of reported incidents mounts daily. Synagogues are defaced, cemeteries desecrated, religious schools vandalized, slanderous leaflets distributed. And I am convinced the number of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions is greater than the number reported. Too many Jews dismiss such incidents as pranks or hope that, if ignored, they will somehow go away.”

Despite this trend, Schindler insists that “Jews in America must never fear to arouse the public against the hate-mongers because the overwhelming majority of Americans will stand at our side — against bigotry and hate and for the American ideal.”

According to the UAHC leader, “Jews do not have to wage this struggle alone. We can reach out to form coalitions of decency with moderate Christian leaders, with civic leaders, with Blacks and labor and the liberals and with conservatives, too — true conservatives who are pledged to the preservation of American values, not the riders of the Trojan Horse.”

Schindler points out that “our traditional alliances held up during the recent AWACS battle. It was led by true and tested friends — the Kennedy’s, the Cranstons, the Packwoods. Labor was most supportive and 16 of 17 Blacks voted against the AWACS sale, as did all the Hispanics in the House.”

In contrast, Schindler observes, “the Moral Majority did not do nearly so well by us. Its leader, Rev. Jerry Falwell, did sign an anti-AWACS advertisement. That was all — no mail, no telephone calls, no sermons to support its public position. In fact, the higher the Moral Majority rating of a legislator the more likely he was to approve the arms sale to Saudi Arabia.”


On the proposal in Israel’s Knesset to amend the Law of Return, Schindler calls for the “collective voice of American Jewry” to be heard in opposition. Describing the proposal by the Agudat Party in Israel as “wantonly destructive of Jewish unity,” Schindler declares: “How can any Jewish leader, after Auschwitz, permit the institution of a ‘selection process’ at Jerusalem’s gates?” He added: “We will not accept a secondary status in Jewish life. We refuse to be beggars at Jerusalem’s gates. We mean to fight for our full and equal rights as Jews,” he adds.

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