Menu JTA Search

State Department Strongly Criticized for Stand on German Scientists

The Washington Post, a newspaper which generally supports the State Department’s thinking on the Arab-Israel issue, published a leading editorial differing sharply with the views of Under Secretary of State W. Averell Harriman, who sought to justify the continued work in Egypt of German missile scientists in his reply to six Senators who expressed anxiety over the work.

The Post said editorially that Mr. Harriman had said, in effect: “That alarm over German scientists in the United Arab Republic was exaggerated–after all, if the Germans were not there, Egypt would be more dependent on the Soviet Union for developing missiles and jet aircraft.” The Post commented that “this comes close to arguing that we should be grateful for the Soviet forces in Cuba because, otherwise, there might be a Chinese army in the Caribbean.”

“What is missing in Mr. Harriman’s note–and indeed inmost of the lofty State Department utterances on the Middle East–is any real feeling for the plight of Israel. Here is a tiny country wholly surrounded by nations that have sworn its elimination. The UAR, now flushed with political success in Iraq and Syria, is on the verge of developing ground-to-ground missiles that could rain terror on Israel. It is of small comfort to Israel that these may be good, non-Communist missiles developed with the help of Germans so thoroughly anti-Russian that some of them worked for Hitler,” the Post declared.

The newspaper said the State Department had responsed “inadequately” to American anxiety about missiles in the Near East. “The air surely ought to be cleared, and quickly, by a reassertion of American interest in the continued security of Israel,” it stressed. It charged that “the United States has leaned over backwards to encourage cordial relations with President Nasser and all other Arab states.” Also that “Washington has crawled out on a limb to demonstrate good faith toward Arab nationalism.”

ACCUSED OF MOUTHING ‘LIFELESS PLATITUDES’ ABOUT ISRAEL’S SECURITY

According to the Post, “ground-to-ground missiles would place Israel at a perilous disadvantage, even if conventional bombs were lodged in their nose.” If Nasser develops an operational offensive missile, then there will be no alternative but to see that Israel has an adequate deterrent capacity too, the paper pointed out.

The State Department was accused of mouthing “lifeless platitudes” about Israel’s security. The immediate task of American diplomacy was seen as exploration of means to curtail arms shipments to the Near East on a multilateral basis. This, said the editorial, could even include informal approaches to the Soviet Union.

“The world would breathe easier if both offensive missiles and nuclear devices were ruled out of the region under an agreement that provided effective inspection. This should be the goal of American policy,” said the editorial. The newspaper held that “it ought to be made clear that, if all attempts at regional arms control fail, Israel will get the help it needs and not just snappish lectures about ‘worrisome complicated problems,'”

(The New York Post, in an editorial today, said: “There is a tendency in some Administration quarters to dismiss questions about the German scientists working on rockets for Egypt with the warning that, if the Germans are pushed out, Soviet experts would move in. This reply will hardly comfort Israel or reassure anyone concerned about peace and stability in the Middle East. What is missing is any indication that the U. S. has approached the Soviet Union in an effort to find out whether it might be prepared to join in an agreement to keep the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Such a probe, backed by the warning that Israel will get the weapons it needs if Russia and Egypt spurn an arms control pact, could conceivably bring results.”)

NEXT STORY