Rabbinical Council of AmericaThe president of the Rabbinical Council of America, an association of Orthodox rabbis, asserted here that the center of gravity of American Jewish interest was moving away from Israel and toward the American Jewish community.

“It is a disturbing and perilous change,” Rabbi Sol Roth told several hundred leaders and Rabbinical Council delegates at the organization’s annual mid-winter conference.

Declaring that American Jews “may be beginning to take Israel for granted,” he asserted that vision of American Jews “of what is indeed in our best interests may be distorted by parochial concerns.” He said that “whatever the reasons for this change may be, it is distressing ” that it is “taking place.”

As evidence, Roth mentioned the debate over the Reagan Administration’s successful effort to win Congressional approval of its plans to sell AWACS reconnaissance planes and enhanced weaponry for F-15s being sold to Saudi Arabia. In that debate, Roth asserted, “the issue of anti-Semitism in America was projected into prominence with a concomitant partial eclipse of our concern for Israel.”

Arguing that anti-Semitism is unlikely to take on “the dimension of a major movement or a state policy, not in this country,” Roth asserted that, accordingly, “our greater concern must be with the State of Israel” and that “we ought not to be distracted by placing too much emphasis on subsidiary consideration, ” such as the anti-Semitic tactics charged against the Reagan Administration by foes of the Saudi arms deal concerned with the security of Israel.

He said another issue showing American Jewry shifting its center of gravity is the degree to which allocations from Federations’ fund-raising campaigns “have been changing” with the result that “in many communities, more and more is provided for American Jewish needs at the expense of Israel.”

Calling this an “unhappy” and “unfortunate” development, Roth added that “if local needs grow, more funds must be generated for them but the requirements of Israel are escalating as well, and to these we must respond adequately. For our own sake, Israel must not be allowed to suffer.”

As another example, Roth said, “an essentially American debate on religious pluralism in Israel is taking place.” He said “one of the most distressing features of that debate is the explicit suggestion by some that if Conservative and Reform rabbis are not granted recognition in Israel, the congregations they represent will reduce or eliminate their support of the United Jewish Appeal.”

Arguing that “a suggestion of this kind was not only impossible but inconceivable a decade ago,” Roth said “perceptions of Israel have changed, priorities have been transformed. The situation is hazardous.”