The American Jewish Congress yesterday criticized the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker humanitarian agency, for calling for inclusion of a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in any discussions invovling a Middle East settlement.
Theodore Bikel, chiarman of the Congress' National Governing Council, said at a press conference here that Congress officials would decline to attend the Quaker agency's conference on the Middle East here this weekend because of "certain assumptions" of the sponsors.
The Congress has 50,000 members.
"It is disheartening that the American Friends Service Committee - an organization founded on the principle of pacifism and nonviolence - should embrace the most bellicose and savage element in the Middle East," Bikel said. "We only conclude that the good will and trusting nature of the Friends have caused them to be hoodwinked into believing that the PLO has has a sudden conversion to 'moderation'"
Sabi Jiryis, a PLO representative, was scheduled to speak at the Quaker conference at the 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, but the State Department said Wednesday that a visa would not be granted to him quaker officials have voiced the belief that the American Jewish establishment pressured the State Department to turn down Jiryis' visa application.
Asserting that it was "not a pleasant task to take issue with the Quakers," Bikel disputed point by point the principles behind the AFSC conference called "The New Imperative for Israeli-Palestinian Peace."
One of these principles is that the PLO should be fincluded in peace negotiations.
"By its refusal to accept Israel's right to exist, by its unremitting determination to destroy the Jewish state and by its commitment to terrorism the PLO has disqualified itself from any place at the peace table," Bikel said.
Quaker officials said in a statement yesterday that they "do not speak for or on behalf of the PLO."
AFSC officials repeated their contentions that peace in the Middle East must include several criteria such as "direct negotiations among all parties," a renunciation of terrorism by the PLO, PLO recognition of the permanent existence of Israel and Israel's recognition of Palestinian self-determination.