Protesting JTA OpEd by Phil Baum & Ad Hoc Committee

A Letter by Barry D. Cohen - NJCRAC Executive Committee - August 6, 1991


August 6, 1991

To: Mr. Lawrence Rubin, NJCRAC
443 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

Re: Op-Ed on Ad Hoc Committee's Activities and Positions

Dear Larry:

I read with chagrin the Op-Ed Phil Baum submitted to the JTA on July 25, 1991 in connection with the Ad Hoc Committee's "position" on the Pollard case.

This fax is not intended to address the issues raised by Mr. Baum on a point by point basis. As I am sure you are aware not only from our prior telephone conversations but from my address to the Executive Committee in Chicago, it was my feeling and that of my community that it was timely for the organized Jewish community via NJCRAC to stake out a humanitarian position in favor of Jonathan Pollard under all of the attendant circumstances.

As you will recall, the Ad Hoc Committee's report was the last item considered by the Executive Committee before we disbanded and there was insufficient time for a full airing of views. I am sure you will recall, both Los Angeles and Atlantic City forcefully lobbied the Executive committee to take a pro-Pollard position. We further argued that the position should be made public for consideration by an Appeals Court which had been provisionally scheduled for September 19, 1991.

Mr. Baum was not present during these deliberations. The response I received to my public comments were that they were appreciated, that the Committee's work was still ongoing and that the Committee was not in the position of providing any final recommendation and that the information before us was simply in the form of a "report". No specific action was requested of the Executive Committee by the Ad Hoc Committee and, therefore, no action was presently being called for. In short, when I left the Executive Committee I was under the distinct impression that while some members of the Executive Committee felt as I did and while others did not, there was no "polling" to be taken since there was no action the Ad Hoc Committee was requesting. The Chair was not entertaining any resolution in the face of this interim report.

How then does the Ad Hoc Committee publish an Op-Ed piece which literally pulls the rug out from under the free-Pollard faction within our larger community when the Ad Hoc Committee never requested the Executive Committee to accept any particular findings and when the Executive Committee never made any independent findings on its own with respect to this issue? Neither the Executive Committee nor NJCRAC in plenum was given the opportunity to wrestle with this issue, decide whether there was a consensus and design appropriate action to be taken. Rather, the Ad Hoc Committee in its Op-Ed piece, with the apparent authority of NJCRAC, attempts to speak on behalf of the entire organized Jewish community when announcing its "findings". In my opinion, the absence of a deliberative process involving an issue of such importance and passion in our community, is both unacceptable and outrageous.

By copy of this fax to Arden I wish to register my heartfelt objections to the manner in which our organization has dealt with this issue. We have "fobbed off" a hot potato onto an Ad Hoc Committee which has published the "position" of the "organized" Jewish Community without that community through NJCRC, ever having fully deliberated on the issue or even being requested to formally ratify the Ad Hoc Committee report.

Thank You,
Barry D. Cohen

BDC: lea