LONDON (Jul. 22)
Debates on the recent Israel arms sale to West Germany occupied the attention of delegates at meetings today of two of British Jewry’s major Jewish organizations, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish Association.
The debate at the Board of Deputies meeting centered around a report of the Board’s Israel Committee, presented by chairman S. Teff. He told the delegates that the committee “fully realized that this was a most delicate matter and any sentiments shown by Jews were genuine, understanding and natural.”
He pointed out that the Israel position was that Jews outside of Israel must understand the position of the Jewish State “hemmed in by implacable armies who obtain weapons from both blocs while we are left on our own and have to see to it that we have the means to defend ourselves should the time come.”
Mr. Teff also cited Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s argument that Israel had not rearmed West Germany and that the $3,000,000 worth of Israel arms sold to the Bonn Republic could not make any real difference on the issue. Mr. Teff added that if this was a question of defense and self-preservation, the question “must be left to Israel.”
Several speakers criticized the AJEX, the Jewish Veterans Organization, for submitting a protest note about the arms transaction. Speakers argued this should not have been done without the knowledge of the Board. A suggestion was made that the Board’s grant to AJEX be withdrawn.
Responding for the veterans, A. Bard said criticism of Prime Minister Ben Gurion did not imply a lack of love or devotion for Israel and that those who “merely kept silent and acquiesced” in such actions “undermined Israel’s integrity.” He termed the “threat” of withdrawal of the Board grant to AJEX “unworthy” of the Board. Two other delegates, A. Shloimevitch, and Harry Goodman of Agudath Israel, also assailed the arms agreement.
President Janner said he agreed that the ultimate decision must be left to Israel and that he did not believe Mr. Ben Gurion would take action not in Israel’s best interests. He appealed to the Board to take no further action on the question.
A similar stand was taken by R.N. Carvalho, president of the Anglo-Jewish Association, at a meeting of the organization’s Council. He said the AJA had always maintained that Jews who were not citizens of Israel had no right to intervene in domestic issues there.
“While we understand the very real conflicts which the sale must arouse in many Israelis,” he said, “the Association does not feel that it should make any statement which would influence feelings, or make more difficult the resolution of the problem, especially since the debate in Israel is not unconnected with the forthcoming general elections there.”