WASHINGTON (Aug. 12)
A heated debate over the Morse amendment, which aims at protecting American Jews against Saudi Arabian bigotry, flared up today at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, when Senator Gordon Allott, of Colorado, defended the “right” of Saudi Arabia to have Jews in the U.S. armed services barred from serving at the American air base in Dhahran.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. Wayne Morse, Oregon Democrat, urged that no United States aid fund should go to nations discriminating against Americans on the basis of their race or religion. The amendment is linked to the pending Mutual Security appropriation bill.
Senator Allott questioned whether the United States should “interfere” with convictions held by Saudi Arabia, stating that for “6, 000 years” there has been a bitter fight between Jews and Arabs. He said he thought the proposed Morse amendment would place President Eisenhower in a “hopeless situation” and “almost certainly lead to trouble.” He also voiced disagreement with a recent anti-bias ruling by Judge Henry Epstein, of the New York State Supreme Court, against ARAMCO, the Arabian-American Oil Company.
Senator Kenneth B. Keating, New York Republican, defended the amendment put forward by Sen. Morse. He said the Morse amendment would merely express the desire of the Congress that foreign nations receiving American Government aid treat alike all American citizens of whatever faith.
Senator Jacob K. Havits, New York Republican, said Sen. Allott was mistaken in stating there were thousands of years of bitter antagonism separating Jews and Moslems as a justification for the Saudi position. Sen. Javits recalled that Jewish-Moslem tension was mainly recent and a result of the Palestine issue. He cited a long history, including many cases of good relations, between the two groups.
It was pointed out by Sen. Javits that the Morse amendment would not make it mandatory for the President to withhold Mutual Security funds from Saudi Arabia, even if that country persisted in its anti-Jewish policies. Sen. Javits characterized the amendment as merely expressing the “wish” of Congress.
Senator Javits testified before the committee previously today that “there is no end to the evil consequences which result from temporizing with efforts by foreign governments to cause us to discriminate among American citizens.” He termed the extent of Arab discrimination against Jewish Americans “shocking,” and an affront to the national dignity of the United States.
Senator Javits urged adoption of the Morse proposal in a move to end Arab attempts to force the U.S. Government to discriminate among American citizens on a religious basis. He cited particularly the barring of U.S. Air Force personnel of Jewish faith from duty at the Dhahran Airbase.
STATE DEPARTMENT CRITICIZED FOR AGREEING TO ANTI-JEWISH SCREENING
Senator Morse told the committee his amendment should be linked to pending Mutual Security legislation, because “we are discussing a measure to strengthen the United States and the free world.” He expressed disappointment that the Dhahran Airbase agreement was renewed by the Administration in 1957, and King Saud honored here, despite the 1956 platform declarations of both political parties. He thought the Administration should have insisted on removing “these offensive anti-Jewish screening procedures.”
The Oregonian said the action of the Administration was “expediency, nothing more nor less.” According to the Senator, the Administration also went along with the abridgment of rights of Jewish Americans in the United States, in certain cases arising from Saudi pressure.
Senator Morse urged that the two entities, “Aramco and the United States, ” should not be confused. He said their interests were not identical. He told the committee that “when we retreat from the principle of equal citizenship for all of our citizens because of pressure from a foreign monarch who threatens to deny us airbase accommodations unless we surrender to expediency, we lose prestige and respect all over the world.”
Emphasizing that the Congress was obligated to resist foreign attempts to create religious distinction between Americans, Sen. Morse drew attention to the fact that the statement of purpose contained in the Mutual Security Bill before Congress called for “a worldwide atmosphere of expanded freedom.” He said that, if we believe that ideal to be true, “we should not allow a single American dollar to be used to subsidize policies which mock that high purpose. “
Aramco, said Sen. Morse, has been told it cannot violate New York laws at the behest of Saudi Arabia. He thought it indicated that Congress tell the State Department “it must not underwrite discriminatory practices against American citizens by any foreign government. “
Committee Chairman Carl Hayden, Arizona Democrat, assured Sen. Morse his amendment would receive consideration. To date, 21 Senators have agreed to join with Sen. Morse in support of the amendment. If the Appropriations Committee decides to incorporate it into the pending bill, however, it would not be necessary to offer the amendment to the floor. But this is doubtful, as Sen. Allott’s remarks today suggested opposition within the committee.
Sen. Leverett Saltonstall, a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that he supported the idea of the suggested amendment. The Massachusetts Republican said he hoped he could be helpful in working out wording in the committee that covers the intent and is at the same time “administratively practical. ” Sen. Saltonstall is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.