Z.O.A. Convention Asks U.S. to Bring About Direct Arab-israel Talks
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Z.O.A. Convention Asks U.S. to Bring About Direct Arab-israel Talks

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A series of resolutions dealing with United States policy vis-a-vis the Middle East, calling among other things for the United States Government to “undertake a new initiative to bring Israel and the Arab states into direct negotiations at the peace table,” was adopted here today at the conclusion of the 63rd annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America at which Max Bressler, of Chicago, was elected president.

The resolutions were adopted following an announcement made last night by Vice President Richard M. Nixon to the delegates of the convention that, if he is elected President of the United States, he would assign “the primary responsibility for directing negotiations” with regard to the Arab-Israeli dispute to Henry Cabot Lodge, former head of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations and now Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States. Mr. Nixon made this announcement in a tape recorded message to the convention.

Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell, addressing the ZOA convention last night in person, took issue with Senator John F. Kennedy, Democratic Presidential candidate, who, addressing the convention last Thursday evening, proposed that “all the authority and prestige of the White House be used to call into conference the leaders of Israel and the Arab states to consider privately their common problems.” Senator Kennedy voiced belief that such an approach from the White House “would be lightly rejected by either side.”

Commenting on Senator Kennedy’s proposal, Secretary Mitchell, a Republican, told the convention: “The things that Senator Kennedy suggested here on this platform–intervention and conciliation under White House auspices–are descriptions of what may be possible when all else has succeeded. He has described a possible pleasant ending of the hard road before us, but not the road itself. I suppose it is a human frailty to look forward with an anxious hope to an easy ending, but it is seldom consistent with the facts of our history.”

Secretary Mitchell then went on to describe the U.S. policy in the Middle East. “Our policy in the Middle East–non-partisan, non-interventionist,” he said, “is one of objective pursuit of peace, through support of United Nations activities to reduce tension. Secretary of State Herter, early this year, reiterated our support of Secretary General Hammarskjold’s attempts to effect a fair resolution of the Suez Canal transit problem. We, of course, support the principle of freedom of passage as endorsed by the United Nations.

“Without the reduction of tensions, without the clearing away as far as possible of animosities and mistrust between nations, intervention by superior powers may lead to fresh animosity and renewed mistrust. To pursue an immoderate policy of intervention, whether joined or not by other nations, is at this time to sacrifice respect for the United Nations ability to build a way to peace by careful reduction of turbulence.

“Proposals such as those made by Sen. Kennedy to you are well-intentioned, without question. They are sincere, without question. They may appear as logical solutions to some earnest, active and intelligent persons who would like to get to peace quickly. But I would refer you to the history of your own organization, to the may years of vigor and of patience, of constant devotion to your cause and your ideal, as an example of the kind of effort that finally changes history, partly despite and partly because of the hard realities of the world,” Secretary Mitchell stated.


Vice President Nixon, in his recorded message, said that the Middle East would continue to be a source of tension as long as the “Arab boycott and blockade continues,” as long as “Americans are barred from certain countries because of their religious faith, and as long as Arab refugees are confined to camps and their unhappiness continues,” He then outlined the following policies that he believed the U.S. should follow to meet these problems:

“Strong unceasing efforts to establish freedom of passage through the Suez Canal, and to put an end to discriminatory practices throughout the area. Encouraging and supporting measures making it possible for the Arab states to develop their material resources to raise their living standards and thereby increase opportunities for growth, and for the resettlement of Arab refugees where their labor and skills can be employed to full advantage.

“Continued and increased support of the courageous and successful efforts of the people of Israel to make the desert bloom and to turn their country into a new Land of Promise. Israel has dramatically demonstrated to the world the effectiveness of free institutions and the democratic way by these efforts and also by the technical aid it has extended to the newly independent and underdeveloped nations in Africa and Asia.

“Above all continued and tireless search for practical means to achieve a solid and lasting peace in the Middle East. Now this means the avoidance of good promises, the futility of which have been proved many times over, and concentration rather on persistent negotiations through every diplomatic channel available to us.

“I believe the time has come when we should try to bring about an overall settlement of the Palestine question in all its aspects. I refer to the status of the Arab refugees, the development of the waters of the Jordan and other relationships between Israel and its neighbors. Finding a settlement of these problems with justice and fairness to all is important not only to Israel and its neighbors but to the peace and security of the United States and of the whole world.

“There will, of course, have to be considerations by each side of the problems of the other side, and the United States should be willing to contribute generously toward bringing about such a settlement. It will not be easy and I promise no miracles, but it is imperative to the nation’s interest that a solution be found, that we must devote cur best efforts to that end,” Mr. Nixon stated.


Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, speaking at the ZOA dinner last night which was given in his honor, emphasized that “Zionism which built the State of Israel must presently buttress it.” At the same time he urged that “Zionism must continue to invigorate the life of our people everywhere, not for the sake of Zion only but for the sake of universal Israel.” Declaring that “Zionism was always far more than scaffolding for the erection of the State of Israel,” Dr. Silver said that “It was and is the expression of the unbroken wills of our people to live creatively and in freedom, which time and again rebuilt the fallen tabernacle of David.”

In an indirect answer to some Israeli leaders who have been critical of the American Zionist movement, Dr. Silver declared: “Zionism was the architectural design, the material out of which the State of Israel was built and the will that built it. Zionism will remain its sure and main support in the days to come. It would be folly to break the cask and still hope that the wine will be retained.”

The Zionist leader further voiced the view that: “The Diaspora cannot solve all the problems of Israel, but neither can Israel solve all the problems of the Diaspora. Each has a life of its own and will continue to have a life of its own. But Zionism can serve both as a two-way breach open at all times for spiritual and cultural profit, to transmit the inspiration of one to the other.”

Dr. Silver received the ZOA Herzl Gold Medallion, awarded each year by the ZOA for outstanding services to the Zionist cause. The first two recipients of this award were Israel’s President Itzhak Ben-Zvi, and Lord Balfour, nephew of the author of the Balfour Declaration who accepted the award in behalf of his late uncle. In addition to Secretary Mitchell the principal speakers at the dinner included Israel Ambassador Avraham Harman, Maurice Berinstein, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, vice-president of the Israel Bond Organization. Dr. Emanuel Neumann presided at the dinner.


In its resolution urging the U.S. Government to take the initiative to bring about direct Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, the ZOA convention pointed out that the late Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, had asserted in 1956 that “the preservation of the State of Israel is one of the essential goals of United States foreign policy.” The resolution emphasized that “the objectives and policies of the United States qualify our Government to assume leadership in achieving an Arab-Israel peace.”

Another resolution dealt with the Arab boycott against Israel and against American firms and individuals dealing with Israel. This measure directed the incoming administration of the ZOA to “give high priority to the creation of a committee for the protection of Americans from the Arab boycott, with power to take any and all appropriate legal measures to combat the said boycott and blacklisting. The committee was directed to coordinate and cooperate with all other bodies that may be existent or may be created for the same purpose in the United States.

A separate resolution dealing with the Arab boycott congratulated Congressional opposition to discrimination by countries receiving American aid against any Americans on grounds of race or religion.

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