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January 26, 1979 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-01-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

14 Friday, January 26, 1919

Mann Says U.S. Jews Are Not 'Yes Men'

CINCINNATI (JTA) —
Are American Jews "yes
men" for either Washington
or Jerusalem? The answer

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is "no," according to Theo-
dore R. Mann, chairman of
the National Jewish Com-
munity Relations Advisory
Council (NJCRAC),
"American Jews are a free
and independent commu-
nity whose reactions to any
issue of concern are guided
by a sense of responsibility."
Addressing some 400 U.S.
Jewish community leaders

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at the opening session of the
NJCRAC's four-day ple-
nary meeting, Mann
analyzed the role of Ameri-
can Jewish organizations in
the search for peace in the
Middle East and what he
described as a change in the
Israeli-American Jewish re-
lationship.
Mann said that the cur-
rent Middle East negotia-
tions have "wall to wall
Jewish unity" but it is "as
much an expression of un-
ified opposition to unfair
and hostile public criticism
of Israel as it is supportive of
Israel's actions."
Making clear that the
role of American Jewish
leadership is to mobilize
understanding and sup-
port for the goal of a se-
cure Israel, not to make
policy decisions on how
that security ought to be
achieved, he said, "The
Israelis understand their
security needs far better
than we."
While there are adequate
channels for disagreeing
with a particular Israeli pol-
icy or action, he continued,
"we would severely com-
promise our ability to cry
out against public U.S.
chastisement of Israel if we

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ourselves indulged in the
same practice."
He pointed out that Pre-
mier Menahem Begin and
Israeli leadership in gen-
eral have made themselves
directly accessible to
American Jewish leaders
who wish to convey their
views in that Israeli
decision-makers more than
ever take American Jewish
reactions into account.
"They know," he de-
clared, "that we are one
kind of factor in the negotia-
tion when we react as a
united community and an-
other kind when we do not."
Mann, who is also the
chairman of the Confer-
ence of Presidents of
Major American Jewish
Organizations, said that
the Israeli-American
Jewish relationship is
entering a new phase
primarily because of
American Jewry's
changing image of itself.
The American Jewish
community today, he as-
serted is "cohesive and
dynamic."
He characterized the re-
lationship over the past 30
years as having been built
on "fantasy" — on the one
side, the belief of many Is-
raelis that Jewish com-
munities living outside of
Israel, including American
Jewry, would disappear
through assimilation and
acculturation; on the other
side a sense of inferiority
stemming from "outsize re-
spect and awe of our Israeli
partners."
He asked Israelis who be-
lieve that Jewry cannot
survive outside of Israel to
reconsider. "Believe in our
future and act on that belief
just as we believe in your
future and act on that belief
. . . real enduring unity will
come only from movement
by each community to sup-
port the other's most essen-
tial needs."
Mann cited the following
as "imperatives" for the
American Jewish commu-
nity in the year ahead:
• To exercise its First
Amendment rights with
"uncommon vigor and wis-
dom."
• To understand that
the U.S. continues to be
Israel's friend and ally
despite transient misun-
derstanding, but to
nevertheless cry out at
the Administration's lack
of understanding "of the
enormity of the danger to
both Israel and America
if an improvident resolu-
tion of the West Bank
problem were to allow
the PLO to become
ensconced there now or
ever."
• To point out to the Ad-
ministration, "with its re-
freshingly high moral
standard in its conduct in
international relations, the
immortality of a policy
which would countenance
even for a moment the re-
turn of East Jerusalem to
Arab sovereignty."

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