WASHINGTON (Jun. 27)
Citing the barring by Saudi Arabia of Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, as “the most flagrant recent instance of discrimination against an American citizen by a country which is the recipient of American aid, ” Senator Kenneth Keating, of New York, questioned today whether the Executive Department was doing enough to protect the rights of American Jews abroad. Senator Keating made his views known in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Commenting on the Administration’s new request for foreign aid funds, he called on the Executive Department to implement the previously expressed sense of Congress asking severance of aid to nations that discriminate through boycotts and blockades.
Senator Keating said the Administration’s new bill contained in its preamble “a watered-down, weakened version of the Douglas-Keating Amendment. ” He raised a question of why the Executive Department did not use existing authority to sever Arab aid and whether the new provision would be enforced.
Referring to Rep. Halpern, Senator Keating said “a Congressman who the Administration is asking to provide money for foreign aid and other assistance projects in Saudi Arabia, is being barred from that country. Before additional aid is granted to the Arabs, ” he said, “guarantees should be received that American citizens will be permitted to use the air terminals and other facilities built with American funds. That is the very least which the United States can do in its role as the defender of individual liberties and human dignity throughout the world.”
ARAB BOYCOTT IS ‘CLEAR EFFORT TO BLACKMAIL’
Senator Keating said “the State Department seems more concerned to evade responsibility for supporting Americans and American concerns. . .than it is to exercise it. . .the Arab boycott is a clear effort to blackmail all nations of the world. . . the next step, if Nasser wants to follow the example of his counterpart, Castro, is to demand a tractor for every shipload of goods for Israel that is allowed through the Suez Canal or for every refugee that is settled on Arab soil. “
Senator Keating charged that “American aid is being wasted and the motives behind it thoroughly perverted when it is offered to nations such as the Arab ones which pursue a policy of economic warfare against other nations which we are also aiding. ” He said “It is self-defeating, wasteful of the taxpayers’ money; and in the long run derogatory to our own interests in the Middle East.”
The New York Senator said also that “there is continuous, documented proof” that American ships are being affected by the Arab boycott although the State Department shirks this problem. He cited the case of the U.S. freighter “Valiant Faith. ” He said “the Egyptians held up this freighter in Port Said. . .denied its crew shore leave, leaving them, in effect, imprisoned on the ship for 28 days.”
He urged Congress to take a “firm and unwavering” stand against Arab discrimination affecting Americans and also against Arab boycott and blockade tactics.