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Solon Says Disagreement with Israel’s Policies Should Not Be an Excuse of Not Contributing to UJA

May 21, 1984
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Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D. NJ) urged the leaders of the United Jewish Appeal last night never to accept disagreement with Israel’s policies as an excuse of not contributing to the UJA.

“If you are an American and you disagree with the present Administration you have no right to withhold your contributions,” Lautenberg asserted. “Your responsibility is to those people and to the future of the Jewish people.” He said that those who want to involve themselves in Israeli politics should “move there” and vote in Israel.

The freshman New Jersey Senator said that before he came to the Senate he was more critical of Israel than he is now, having suggested that Israel stop building settlements on the West Bank.

But now, he said, he is convinced that “no country has to be asked to give up its legitimate gains, its interests, without its neighbors coming to the (negotiating) table. If the Arab countries are worried about Israel’s absorption of the West Bank they ought to come to the table and talk about it and not sit on the sidelines and gain their objectives without paying some price for it.”


Lautenberg, a former UJA national chairman, and Sen. Arlen Spector (R. Pa.), last night introduced UJA’s national chairman for 1985, Alex Grass, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania businessman. Grass was installed at a ceremony earlier in the day to succeed Robert Loup of Denver who was installed as chairman of the UJA’s Board of Trustees, Loup replaced Herschel Blumberg of Washington.

Stanley Horowitz, who in December took over from Irving Bernstein as UJA president, its chief professional officer, was also officially installed yesterday.


Both Spector and Lautenberg noted that in talking to their constituents they found a great deal of criticism of foreign aid in a time of cutbacks in the U.S. Spector stressed that foreign aid is “vital for the United States and vital to maintain the strength of Israel.”

Lautenberg said that the U.S. gets back more from a strong Israel than it gives in aid. “Would that we had Israels in Europe or South America or Latin America,” he said.

Pointing to the U.S. concern over the Iran-Iraq war, Lautenberg said the U.S. can be thankful that there is a strong Israel in the area. “Where would we be today if the Israelis had not had the good judgement, the skill, to knock out that Iraqi nuclear reactor?” he asked.

Also participating in the program last night was Sen. Daniel Inouye (D. Hawaii) who joined representatives of the Hawaii Jewish community which received the Pinchas Sapir Award as a small community with an outstanding achievement in the 1983 UJA campaign. The Sapir award to a large community went to Minneapolis and for an intermediate community to Nashville. Awards for exceptional fund-raising efforts for the 1983 Israel Special Fund were also presented to Cleveland, Akron and Oklahoma City.


Inouye noted that the Hawaii Jewish community was “half way around the world from Jerusalem” but the some 2,000 Jewish families there have learned “what history should have taught the Jews of America–when it comes down to the final analysis, if a Jew cannot help himself, no one else will. “He said that as a result of his voting record in the Senate, “I think I can call myself a Jew.”


Grass, in his acceptance speech, said that while the American Jewish population has declined by 13 percent since 1972, to total an estimated 5.3 million people, he is still confident in the “strength and viability of the organized Jewish community,” which he said is “focused on Israel.”

“Israel is central to Jewish survival, to Jewish identity, to Jewish hearts,” he said. He said the “safety and well being of Jews around the world in linked practically and spiritually to the safety and well being of the people of Israel.”

Grass said the UJA “enables American Jews to enter into a partnership with the people of Israel.” Noting that UJA must also meet the growing needs of American Jewry, he said this cannot be done at the expense of overseas Jewry. But he said both needs can be met through a “maximum” fundraising campaign under the theme “partners for life.”

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