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U.S. Zionists Decide to Become Active in Jewish Communal Affairs

May 17, 1965
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For the first time in its history, the American Zionist movement today adopted a program of unified action which placed the main emphasis on work to ensure the future of the American Jewish community. The program was adopted at an all-day conference of the American Zionist Council, coordinating body of all Zionist groups in this country. It marks an important departure from the traditional Zionist programs which related primarily to the Israeli scene.

While reaffirming the “Zionist responsibility toward the security and welfare of Israel, “the resolutions adopted by the 300 delegates from the nine constituent Zionist organizations affiliated with the American Zionist Council, encompassed participation in Jewish communal affairs, the furtherance of Jewish and Hebrew education, youth activities and encouragement of all types of immigration to Israel. Zionists of all persuasions were urged in one of the resolutions to “involve themselves in all communal endeavors which affect the Jewish community.”

“Zionist philosophy of Jewish living in areas ranging from education to philanthropy,” the resolution said, “must now be brought to the forefront in all of our Jewish communal enterprises so that the positive values in Jewish life will be properly safeguarded and advanced, thus insuring the survival and growth of a vibrant and creative Jewish life.”

The import of the reorientation in the program of American Zionism was stressed in the keynote address by Dr. Max Nussbaum, chairman of the American Zionist Council, who pointed to the fact that the Conference was convened to implement the decisions of the last 26th World Zionist Congress, held in Jerusalem in January 1965, which was devoted to the theme “with the Face Toward the Jewish People in the Diaspora.” Dr. Nussbaum asserted that with one-half of the Jewish people today residing in the United States, the implementation of the second unfinished task of the Zionist program for the building of the Jewish people must begin in this country.

Nathaniel S. Rothenberg, chairman of the Administrative Committee of the American Zionist Council, at the morning Plenary session, laid special emphasis on the importance of “rearing a new generation dedicated to the preservation of the historic continuity of the Jewish people.” He added that “this is essential for the building of a strong American Jewry which would also serve as a hinterland for an economically strong Israel,” Mr. Rothenberg also outlined the tasks facing the Zionist movement today in imbuing American Jewish youth with a sense of spiritual identity with the Jewish people and a loyalty to its heritage.


In a series of resolutions dealing with international affairs the Conference called upon the United States Government to reaffirm in unmistakable terms America’s commitment to the security and independence of all Middle East nations and its determination to prevent aggression be it military or economic. At the same time the resolution took note of the Administration’s desire to maintain friendly relations with the Arab countries, but urged that there be no appeasement at the expense of Israel.

In another resolution adopted, the Conference took note of attempts by Arab states to cut off the Jordan headwaters flowing into Israel, thus aiming to deprive Israel of its lifeblood. It urged the United States Government “to use the full weight of its influence to deter the Arab states from a course which is bound to reach a major crisis in the Middle East.”

In a resolution on Soviet Jewry, the Conference of the American Zionist Council appealed to the Soviet Government to climinate all discrimination against Jews and to accord the Jewish community in Soviet Russia the right and the opportunity for full national, religious and cultural expression. The resolution called upon its constituent organizations and their members “to take the lead on the international and local levels in the campaign of public protest demonstrations and in their expression which will keep the plight of our Jewish brethren in Soviet Russia before American and world public opinion.”

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