NEW YORK (Feb. 16)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency and head of the World Zionist movement, made a direct appeal today to Egypt’s Premier Gamal Abdel Nasser to take the initiative in the Arab world to establish “creative cooperation” between Israel and the Arab states for the reconstruction of the Middle East.
Dr. Goldmann, who leaves tomorrow for a Latin American Zionist conference in Montevideo and who returned this week from talks in Israel with Premier David Ben Gurion and Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, told a press conference that the appeal to Col. Nasser is made in his own behalf, as leader of world Jewry. He said he was fearful that “extremist elements” in Egypt might goad the Nasser Government into “a hit and run onslaught on Israel,” because of Egypt’s “absolute air superiority.”
To prevent such development, Dr.Goldmann urged that “deterrents” be created by providing Israel with ample arms for her legitimate defense. He also warned of increasing disillusionment in Israel with the Western Powers’ failure to act on her arms requests. Should this disillusionment continue, he warned, “it would result in a major crisis in Israel’s psychological attitude towards the United States and the entire free would.”
Dr. Goldmann reported that Premier Ben Gurion is opposed to a “preventive war” and that during his last visit to Israel he found nerves “less taut” than during his previous visit in December. Public opinion in Israel, he stated, has made its “inevitable accommodation to the rigorous political and security dilemmas” confronting the country.
“I found Israel society on all levels facing with remarkable stoicism the impending dangers,” he said. “However, I have also found greater bitterness than when I last visited Israel in December over the failure of the Western Powers–especially the United States–to act affirmatively on Israel’s request for at least a minimum amount of arms for her legitimate self-defense. All the information available to the Israel Government. I have been assured, indicates that the Communist bloc has met its commitments under the Czech-Egyptian agreement on a formidable scale and at an amazing pace. There is no longer any doubt that Israel’s planes are inadequate to afford it protection against the striking power of the Russian bombers in Cairo’s possession. The Israelis are bitter and profoundly disappointed.”
REPORTS ON ATTITUDE OF ISRAEL LEADERS TOWARD U.S. AND BRITAIN
Dr. Goldmann summarized the present attitude in Israel toward the Western Powers as follows: “Israel’s leaders have not yet abandoned hope that the United States will meet their request for arms. They also draw comfort from the conviction that the French Government understands the need for restoring the balance of strength between Israel and the Arab states. On this score I can bear direct witness. On my way home from Israel, I stopped in France and there talked with the new French Foreign Minister. I found him to be very understanding of the Middle East crisis and the parent dangers presented by the Czech-Egyptian arms deal. I also found that he is fully convinced that a balance of strength is a deterrent to war.
“As for Britain–the relationship between the British Government, which issued the Balfour Declaration, and Palestine Jewry, executor of the Declaration, reached its nadir at the St. James Conference in February, 1939, when Lord Halifax, the then British Foreign Minister, told the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann that expediency takes precedence over principle. Israel fears that this dangerous precept has been restored to British policy, and is worried lest this principle become the basis of American policy.
“If this were to happen, it would result in a major crisis in Israel’s psychological attitude towards the United States and the entire Western world. I have no predisposition to sound like a Cassandra, However, I deem it my duty as an American and as one profoundly concerned with the fate of Israel, to warn that should the Israelis conclude that they cannot expect affirmative action in the near future on this request for defensive weapons from the U.S., the impact, psychologically and politically, might be disastrous and lead to far-reaching and unanticipated consequences.
“At the same time, and I say this without qualification, the desire for a peaceful settlement of its outstanding issues with the Arab states, and primarily with Egypt, has never been stronger in Israel than it is today. This is consistent with the aims, intentions and program of Zionism from the day the movement came into being under the leadership of Dr. Theodor Herzl. Zionism has always regarded itself as a great homecoming movement, striving for the reintegration into the Near East of a culture that had its origins in that area, and without loss of the universalism which Hebrew culture possessed from its very beginning.”
SEES OPPORTUNITY TO CONSTRUCTIVELY ALTER ARAB-ISRAEL RELATIONS
Pointing out that great accomplishments could be achieved in the Middle East for the entire area, if the schisms among the Arab states themselves and between the Arab states and Israel were ended, Dr. Goldmann said:
“Notwithstanding present exigencies, I am convinced that there has never been a greater opportunity to alter, constructively, the entire character of Israel-Arab relations than now, when the Near East is undergoing a great and profound historical crisis. I refuse to surrender the hope that a statesman like Colonel Nasser who has so definitely raised the stature of Egypt, will come around to the realization that a policy of war and revenge, hell-bent on a second round, would be no less destructive for Egypt than for Israel and the entire Middle East.
“Surely he must come to realize that it is far more consistent with the dignity and self-respect of the peoples of the Near East, carriers of great and multi-lingual cultures, and creators of the three major faiths, to settle their differences in direct negotiations instead of permitting the situation to deteriorate so perilously that the Western Powers might be forced to attempt to impose a peace settlement.
“Israel and her friends throughout the world are watching with keenest interest and understandable skepticism the talks now under way among the three Western Powers to devise the best method for preventing a war in the Near East. No method proposed to prevent war can be flippantly dismissed. However, there is serious doubt that a method for prompt and effective tri-partite intervention can be devised. It would be unrealistic, in fact, to regard any such decision on method as a substitute for defensive arms to Israel. A sovereign nation’s power to defend its existence is more practical and dignified than the promise of big brother protection.
“What is most necessary in the Near East at this time is to remove the conditions that create psychological tension and to dispel Israel’s justified fears of a hit and run attack from the air, before any of the Big Powers could intervene. Deterrents must be provided if counsels of moderation are to prevail in Cairo and if Egyptian extremists are to be discouraged from regarding their armed superiority as an incentive to war against Israel. Much too much time has been lost already since Israel last autumn submitted its request for defensive arms. Nothing is more urgent at this moment than a positive and favorable decision on this request, Dr. Goldmann concluded.