Senate-house Conference Compromises on Clause Against Arab Bias

Keen disappointment was expressed in Congressional circles friendly to Israel today over the adoption last night by Senate-House conferees of an anti-bias clause in the Mutual Security Bill that followed the weak Senate wording, rather than the stronger House version.

The final bill, as sent to Congress today by the Senate-House conference, stated:

“The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to support the principles of increased economic cooperation and trade among countries, freedom of the press, information, and religion, freedom of navigation in international waterways, and recognition of the right of all private persons to travel and pursue their lawful activities without discrimination as to race or religion.

“In the administration of all parts of this Act, these principles shall be supported in such a way in our relations with countries friendly to the United States which are in controversy with each other as to promote an adjudication of the issues involved by means of international law procedures available to the parties.

“Accordingly, the Congress hereby affirms it to be the policy of the United States to make assistance available, upon request, under this part, in scope and on a basis of long range continuity essential to the creation of an environment in which the energies of the peoples of the world can be devoted to constructive purposes, free of pressure and erosion by the adversaries of freedom.

“It is the sense of the Congress that assistance under this part shall be complemented by the furnishing under any other Act of surplus agricultural commodities and by disposal of excess property under this and other acts.”

WORDING OF CLAUSE INFLUENCED BY STATE DEPARTMENT

The wording adopted by the Senate-House conference indicated a victory for Senator J.W. Fulbright, in that it hewed to the Senate stand, which was far weaker than the specific and firm House version. The House had drafted a provision urging termination of aid to discriminatory nations. The Senate had accepted final wording that represented a weakened interpretation of the already week clause in this year’s Administration aid bill.

It was learned today from a participant in the Senate-House conference meeting that the State Department made known its preference of the weaker Senate version in keeping with what the Department termed the necessity of a fluid policy of non-identification in Arab-Israel disputes and in the national security interests of the United States.

Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, who is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today termed the language in the anti-bias clause “vague and ineffectual” in that it does not insist on distribution of aid in a manner to give effect to America’s principles. He said he regretted the “unfortunate compromise that failed to take an adequate stand against Arab boycott and blockade tactics and Arab discrimination against American citizens of Jewish faith.”

Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, who took a leading role in the Congressional fight for a strong anti-bias clause, termed the final wording “a retreat from the previous stand of the United States, particularly tragic because it will only encourage Arab intransigence.”

He said the compromise was “not even an actual ‘compromise’ in the true sense, in that it followed the watered-down Administration approach to which the chairman, Fulbright, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added more water, apparently with the tacit agreement of the State Department.” He termed the so-called “compromise” as a “step away from the expression of the sense of Congress voiced in previous years in Mutual Security legislation.”

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