The debate currently being waged in our nation over whether to ratify the proposed Panama Canal treaty is a necessary and healthy manifestation of our democratic process. All Americans, individually and in organized fashion, have an obligation to express themselves on this crucial issue.
The 1903 treaty gave the United States power over the Canal Zone "as if sovereign." While the United States has exercised virtually complete jurisdiction over the Canal Zone, that treaty did not make the zone part of the United States.
We can no longer remain insensitive to the desire of the Panamanian people to control all their country's territory. As matters currently stand, the Canal Zone is regarded by many in Latin America and elsewhere as a colonial enclave of the United States on which the United States imposes its will. As Americans and as Jews guided by our tradition, we have long proclaimed our belief in self-determination and our opposition to the principle that might makes right. We firmly believe that the people of Panama ought to have the right to determine their own destiny. We do not see that goal as one inimical to the interests of our country. Since in our judgment neither economic, military, nor political considerations justify the continued control of the Panama Canal by our country, we support present efforts for ratification of a new treaty that will accomplish these ends.
In this spirit, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, in 54th Biennial assembled, commends President Carter for his efforts and states its support of a Panama Canal treaty.