Republican Convention Opens Today; Leaders Cool to Arms for Israel

On the eve of the formal opening of the Republican National Convention it became apparent here today that, although a Republican faction is seeking to persuade Administration leaders to adopt a platform favoring defensive arms for Israel, little impact is being made on rigid recommendations already approved by Secretary of State Dulles and the White House.

The view of the Administration is that the platform should stress “relaxation of tension” between Arab states and Israel under Dulles’ present policy. It would call for the preservation of peace, without specifying arms for Israel. No revolt by delegates against Administration wishes is anticipated.

Bernard Katzen, head of the Jewish Division of the Republican National Committee, appeared before the Platform Committee, praising the policy of the Administration toward Israel. He quoted past assurances by President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles, and recommended that the platform should note “traditional support” of Israel by the Republican Party. He said the “present relative peace” in the Middle East was brought about by Dulles.

Republicans have noticed the Democratic platform which urges arms for Israel and is strongly favorable toward the Jewish State. Attention is being focused by Republican leaders on a communication from Secretary Dulles to B’nai B’rith President Philip Klutznick, expressing State Department opposition to Saudi Arabian discrimination against U.S. Jews.

Chairman of the platform subcommittee considering the Israel plank is Thruston B. Morton, former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs. While in the State Department, Mr. Morton advanced arguments against arms for Israel, and justified such shipments to the Arabs. Mr. Morton has said here that it was not necessary for a Republican plank to go into detail on steps like arms for Israel, or to spell out exactly what measures should be taken in this connection.

Mr. Morton expressed appreciation for Bernard Katzen’s vigorous defense of Dulles’ policies. Alfred Lilienthal, spokesman for an extreme anti-Zionist group, said that Mr. Morton, having been Assistant Secretary of State, was only too well aware of “pressures” by Zionists to prevent the United States from arming Egypt last year. Emphasizing that he was a Republican active in past campaigns, Mr. Lilienthal said, “it would be national suicide” if the Republicans now adopt “a pro-Zionist” plank on the Middle East”.

I. L. Kenen, executive director of the American Zionist Committee for Pablic Affairs, said of Lilienthal: “He besmirches the patriotism of those who exercise the inalienable right of petition. He apologizes for Communist collaboration.” Mr. Kenen presented a specific program along the lines submitted at Chicago and which was subsequently embodied in the Democratic platform. He explained the importance to American security of arms supplies for Israel.

John Gunther, a spokesman for the liberal “Americans for Democratic Action,” advocated arms for Israel. He said it was regrettable that Mr. Lilienthal “came before you to question the good faith” and “impugn motives” of friends of Israel. He pointed out that the United States had no real friend in the Middle East except Israel. If America had given arms to Egypt, he said, they might now be used against the West.

Republican supporters of Israel continued efforts to persuade the major body of their party to approve arms for Israel. Jacob K. Javits, Attorney General of New York State, told the platform committee of “the new danger which now exists in the Middle East” He warned that “Nasser may decide next, after the Suez Canal seizure, to marshal his own and the other Arab nations to march against Israel.”

Two Republican senators, stating that they were acting on behalf of constituents, submitted proposed planks favoring Israel. They were Sen. Leverett Saltonstall, Masschusetts, and H. Alexander Smith, New Jersey. Mr. Javits and Oswald B. Heck, speaker of the New York State Assembly, presented a plank adopted and supported by the New York Republican delegation. They modified it to take note of Suez developments.

Rep. Hugh Scott, Pennsylvania Republican, said 40 Republican Congressmen endorsed the proposed New York pro-Israel plank. Scott is the head of a Congressional Republican element which sought to persuade the Administration to provide arms to Israel.

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