WASHINGTON (Jun. 16)
An American-Israel defense agreement was urged today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee by Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, chairman of the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs.
Rabbi Bernstein testified that on a recent trip to Israel he found Israelis “bewildered, not only by our unilateral arms policy but also by the system of alliances which has been developing in the area, and which we have been encouraging.” He said “it is a startling fact that, while most of the countries around Israel are either leagued with each other, or in some way leagued with Western Powers, Israel stands completely alone and has no alliances with anyone.”
An American-Israel pact, he stated, “would be the most effective means of achieving stability and peace in the Near East because it would make it clear that we are opposed to renewed fighting and that we want peace.” Rabbi Bernstein said that “the Israelis will fight to the last man for their own freedom and to fulfill commitments to the free world.” He cautioned that “supplying of arms to any of the Arab countries before they make peace with Israel permits them to draw the inference that we do not regard peace as a prime necessity.”
Rabbi Bernstein stressed to the committee that in view of the cut in economic assistance for Israel for the fiscal year 1956 he wanted to emphasize “that Israel still needs our help.” He said while Israel has made progress and there is now hope that she can attain economic independence in the foreseeable future, “it would be a mistake and it would undo much of the good that has been done by our aid program if Israel were to be cut prematurely and drastically at this time.”
He reported that Israel “has been compelled by Arab intransigeance to devote a large part of her budget to defense.” He favored economic and technical assistance to the Arab countries, but recorded “strong opposition to any and all programs for military assistance in advance of a peace settlement.”