Menu JTA Search

U.S. Firms Testify in Washington on Arab Boycott; Demand Curbing

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Representatives of several American companies small, medium and large, reiterated today their support for legislation to curb Arab boycott pressures against American firms. Their statements were made in the second day of hearings before the Senate Banking and Currency Committee on the Williams-Javits Bill which would forbid American companies from filling out questionnaires submitted to them by the Arab boycott office in Damascus.

In the Banking and Currency Committees of the House of Representatives, which last week completed hearings on the bill, a 14 to 11 majority this morning sustained a weakened version of the bill as adopted in its International Trade Subcommittee and rejected efforts to restore the original mandatory wording of the bill. The bill as approved by the full House Committee retains the Congressional opposition to the boycott but leaves it to Presidential discretion whether to issue regulations to put this Congressional opposition into effect.

In the Senate Banking Committee hearings this morning, Rep. Paul Krebs, New Jersey Democrat, one of the sponsors of the bill, rejected Administration arguments that the proposed legislation could be interpreted as an unfriendly act toward the Arabs. Stressing that the bill’s aim is to protect the American businessman, Rep. Krebs also questioned the argument that the Arab boycott was not effective anyway. “The fact that a blackmail is conducted in a sloppy way is no reason to submit to it,” he asserted.

SENATORS SUSPECT U. S. POLICY INFLUENCED BY OIL COMPANIES

During the questioning of witnesses, members at the senate Committee indicated their suspicion that oil company interests were behind the State Department’s vehement opposition to the anti-boycott legislation. Senator William Proxmire, Wisconsin Democrat, declared that there must be some economic force behind the State Department opposition and noted that the oil companies have considerable influence in both the State and the Commerce Departments. Senator Harrison Williams, New Jersey Democrat, one of the two originators of the bill, remarked that indeed the oil companies could have come before the Committee and testify, but none of them asked to be heard. Replied Sen. Proxmire: “Not if the State Department is doing it for them.”

Another witness, Edward L. Dreyer, head of Adams Carbide of New Jersey, expressed the opinion that the oil companies did not come to testify because they are big enough to stand up to the Arabs and therefore can do business both in Israel and the Arab countries. The proposed legislation would provide equal protection to all American firms, Dreyer pointed out.

Maxwell Rabb, president, and Parke Masters, director, respectively, of the American Israel Chamber of Commerce in their testimony rejected the arguments that should all American firms be forbidden to fill out boycott questionnaires, the Arab countries would retaliate by boycotting all American business. They also told the Committee that several other countries, including Italy and England, have taken steps to prevent cooperation with the Arab boycott and Holland was about to take up legislation in the same vein.

Aaron Weinstein, vice-president of Block Drug Company of Jersey City. N.J., testified that his company in doing business with Arab countries, was compelled to sign certificates stating that no Israel materials were involved in the products of his firm, He noted that by signing such certificates. American firms “literally become an accessory” to the economic warfare of one foreign country against another.

Miss Eva Bramlette, co-owner of a Dallas, Texas, import firm, told the committee of the warning letter she received from the Arab League after it became known that she was importing dresses and other merchandise from Israel. She urged the committee to approve legislation which would protect her and other small American businesses from such boycott harassments.

NEXT STORY