EVER since the end of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, pressure has mounted around the world for a final settlement of the Middle East conflict; scenarios and counter-scenarios have been proposed, the merits of step-by-step diplomacy have been weighed against the merits of an overall settlement achieved at once and among each of the parties, and in this country an agonizing debate has gone on over the proper role of the United States with regard to the contending sides, and especially with regard to Israel. In the midst of all this, as might be expected, much talk has taken place inside the American Jewish community about relations between that community and the Israeli government and people-what they have been, what they might be, what they ought to be.
Of late, much of this talk has focused on a new and controversial Jewish group called Breira, which advertises itself as offering “a ‘choice’ for shared responsibility between Israel and the Diaspora.” On the one hand, the emergence of Breira (the word in Hebrew means “alternative”) has been hailed by the New York Times and the Washington Post as a major political development, auguring a new willingness on the part of American Jews to criticize the state of Israel. On the other hand, some American Jewish organizations have reacted to Breira with suspicion and hostility, and one group, Americans for A Safe Israel, has published a well-documented pamphlet, written by Rael Jean Isaac, which challenges Breira’s legitimacy and charges that “the majority who join [it] are unaware of the purposes of the minority who shape the path of the organization.” Mrs. Isaac’s arguments merit serious consideration, but first it is necessary to know something of Breira’s history.
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