Republican Platform Committee Hears Plea for a Pro-israel Plank

Pro-Israel sources on the Republican Platform Committee today revealed that some members had privately indicated reluctance to approve the pending pro-Israel plank, and made known that attempts may be made to water down the plank.

Meanwhile, I. L. Kenen, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, appeared today before the committee. He urged adoption of a strong pro-Israel plank in the national interest of the United States, and offered a rebuttal to anti-Israel and anti-Zionist testimony by two witnesses who appeared earlier. They were Harold Minor, retired American diplomat, who testified for the Citizens Committee on American Policy in the Near East; and William Louchheim, a spokesman for anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism.

Mr. Kenen told the committee that the plank advocated by Minor professed impartiality but actually embodied the current themes of Arab propaganda – the Arab refugee and water diversion issues. He said Mr. Minor accepted the Arab line that the Arab refugees had an unconditional right to return to Israel; Mr. Minor also distorted the water issue, putting all blame on Israel, Mr. Kenen said.

Elimination of the Israel plank and its traditional commitment against aggression in the Near East “could be interpreted as a green light for aggression,” Mr. Kenen stated. He ridiculed a plank offered by the American Council for Judaism, which called for rejection of the “Jewish people concept.” He recalled that all major Jewish groups had repudiated the ACJ for distorting and misrepresenting the normal, voluntary relationship between American Jewry and Israel. “I hope you will not join the Council’s 21-year-old campaign to liquidate the Jewish people,” he said.

Mr. Kenen declared that the American-Israel relationship was a proud chapter in American history, and that the ACJ had wasted the committee’s time with its “phanton fears.” He said: “We reject as unfair, dishonest and insulting the insinuation that those who wrote Republican and Democratic platforms for the last 20 years were pandering to a non-existent bloc vote at the expense of the national interest.”

On the subject of American “neutrality” in the Near East, Mr. Kenen said we cannot be neutral as between peaceful and warmongering nations. He also explained to the committee that it was not Israel’s national water carrier which threatened peace, but the Arab threats to block the Jordan River headwaters.

He asked the committee to approve reaffirmation of U. S. policy pledging support of the independence of all nations in the area, support for those threatened by Soviet weapons, action to prevent the arms imbalance, a call for direct Arab-Israel peace negotiations, resettlement of the Arab refugees in Arab countries, support for the Jordan-Yarmuk irrigation program, and action to end boycotts and blockades.

REPUBLICANS URGED TO SEEK SEVERANCE OF U. S. AID TO EGYPT

A Republican policy decision to implement foreign aid provisions to sever aid to Egypt, in view of that country’s continued aggressive preparations and acquisition of Soviet arms, was asked of the convention platform committee today by Rep. Seymour Halpern, of New York. He introduced a proposed plank co-sponsored by 23 other House members and eight Senators.

The proposed plank would continue economic assistance to Egypt only for peaceful development and “not to finance preparations for agressive war.” It would state that “the peace of the Near East is menaced by the reckless Soviet arms shipments to Egypt and other Arab states, by Egypt’s expanisionist policies, and by persistent Arab threats to destroy Israel.”

Rep. Halpern told the committee that the time had come for an immediate stoppage of aid to Egypt. He cited the Gruening-Javits amendment, now part of the aid law, which has not been implemented by the Administration. He said that American aid still flows to Nasser, enabling Egypt to purchase ultra-modern Soviet weapons, to hire Nazi military technicians and scientists, retain military forces in Yemen, and continue to voice aggressive threats against Israel.

In view of the failure of the Administration to heed the expressions of Congress on severance of aid to Egypt, while President Nasser continues to divert his own resources for war preparations, Rep. Halpern said the Republican Party must affirmatively commit itself to the severance of further aid to Nasser.

JAVITS URGES ADOPTION OF PLANK ON TREATMENT OF JEWS IN RUSSIA

Sen. Jacob Javits, of New York, proposed to the Republican Platform Committee that the G. O. P. adopt a plank opposing persecution of Soviet Jews. In that plank, he would have the Republican Party declare:

“We now condemn the campaign being waged by Soviet authorities against all religious groups in the Soviet Union, and especially protest the Soviet repression of its Jewish citizens. We cannot remain silent now, while oppressive acts against Jews and other minorities are being carried out in the Soviet Union. We will urge the Soviet Union to end discrimination against Soviet Jews and to restore the elementary religious, cultural and civil rights presently denied Soviet Jewry, and grant them the freedom to be reunited with their scattered families in other countries.”

Senator Javits also urged the Republican Platform Committee to adopt a plank affirming a positive United States approach to the preservation of Near East peace and opposition to Arab discriminations. He said that seven other Senators were associated with his views in support of this point. He named them as Senators Kenneth B. Keating of New York, Case of New Jersey, Kuchel of California, Prouty of Vermont, Scott of Pennsylvania, Simpson of Wyoming and Morton of Kentucky.

A Republican platform plank expressing U. S. policy toward Soviet anti-Semitism was also urged before the committee today in testimony by National Commander Daniel Neal Heller, of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. He also urged a strong plank to implement American commitments to protect Israel.

Charges that the Democratic Party failed to implement its 1960 platform plank on the Near East were voiced by Bernard Katzen, director of the Ethnic Division of the Republican National Committee, in testimony before the Platform Committee. He recalled the Democratic promise to “encourage direct Arab-Israel peace negotiations.” But, he said, the Administration in 1961 helped defeat the Brazzaville resolution which sought the professed objective of the Democratic plank. Mr. Katzen also said that promises to end Arab boycotts and blockades, open the Suez Canal to shipping, and terminate discrimination against Americans of Jewish faith were unkept.

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