Shamir Says He Will Resist U.S. Pressure : 180 Prominent American Jews Call for Jerusalem’s Direct Negotiations With PLO

From United Press International

A group of 180 prominent American Jews called on Israel today to change its policies in the occupied territories and to engage in direct negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“Many American Jews do not support the suppression of the Palestine people and the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” the group said in a statement released as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir arrived in the United States for talks Wednesday with President Bush.

The statement addressed to Shamir said, “There are millions of American Jews who find your current policies immoral, contrary to what is best in our Jewish tradition and destructive to the best interests of Israel and American Jewry.”


It urged Shamir to “begin negotiations now with the PLO.”

“If you are serious about seeking peace, you must be prepared to talk directly with your enemies, and you cannot expect to pick their representatives for them,” the statement said.

Signers of the statement included television producer Norman Lear, novelist Philip Roth, poet Allen Ginsberg, playwright Arthur Miller, film maker Woody Allen, civil rights and labor activist Joseph Rauh, author Grace Paley, feminist leader Betty Friedan, critics Irving Howe and Michael Walzer, novelist and poet Marge Piercy and journalist Carl Bernstein.

The statement also said Israel should “not rule out the possibility that the outcome of negotiations” with the PLO might be the creation of a Palestinian state--an outcome Israel has fiercely resisted.

In his talks with Bush, “American Jews will be delighted if Shamir has something substantive to offer,” said Michael Lerner, editor of the Jewish magazine Tikkun and coordinator of the statement.

“But unless Shamir agrees to direct negotiations with the PLO aimed at allowing them the same national self-determination that Israel rightly claims for itself, he will simply prolong the agony and immorality of the occupation.”