The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington has contacted 1,600 area Jewish leaders, including heads of some 200 synagogues and other organizations, calling for a letter-writing campaign to protest the U.S. government's reactions last month to Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights.
Following the Dec. 14 action by Israel's Knesset to annex the disputed territory captured from Syria in the 1967 war, the Reagan administration suspended a memorandum of understanding on a strategic cooperation agreement with Israel and voted for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel's action.
In his letter last week to Jewish leaders here, Jewish Community Council President Bert Silver said the American Jewish community "should be offended and outraged at America's action," which he said signaled the administration's intent "to continue a policy of pressure and punishment against Israel."
Silver said, "It is imperative that President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig understand that there is significant opposition to America's 'punishment' of Israel. It is therefore imperative that each Jewish organization take action" by sending letters of protest to the White House and Haig and urging sympathetic members of Congress to pressure administration leaders.
Only a few days before the letter went out, the council's own Israel and Middle East Committee failed, by a vote of 6 to 7, to adopt a resolution that would have endorsed the Golan annexation.
Council spokesman Samuel H. Sislen said that vote was of little significance since "there was not a substantive discussion" of the Israeli government's action before the committee vote was taken; that council policy is "not that we should endorse or not endorse the government of Israel . . . but rather that we should be dealing with the policies of the American government."
Michael Berenbaum, director of the council, said his agency was "obviously quite pleased" by Haig's pledge Monday that the United States would veto any effort by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel. "To the degree that the U.S. adheres to such a position, the Arabs may have to come to terms with the reality of Israel, which will be a hopeful sign in the whole Middle East," he said.