WASHINGTON (Oct. 19)
A wave of anti-American fury mounted in the Arab world this weekend over charges that the United States was permitting its citizens to fight for Israel. The charges were made on Friday by Dr. Mohammed H. el-Zayyat, permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations, in a letter to Secretary-General U. Thant. Dr. el-Zayyat charged that an “official statement” by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that U.S. citizens are permitted to serve in Israel’s armed forces without losing their American citizenship. He charged that this “does not differ much from the method by which the United States began its war in Vietnam.”
A State Department official said here Saturday that the charges, widely published in the Arab press, represented a “gross distortion” of American policy and were intended to incite Arab opinion against the U.S. Officials here disclosed that the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Charles W. Yost, handed a letter to Mr. Thant yesterday denying that American military personnel were serving in Israel’s armed forces. State Department spokesman Robert J. McClosky said Arab allegations that Americans are flying U.S. Phantom and Skyhawk jet aircraft recently sold to Israel “are absolutely without foundation and we totally reject them.”
The statement that aroused Arab wrath was made by an un-named official of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv last week and stemmed from a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the interpretation of dual citizenship. The official referred to that decision in replying to a question by an Israeli newspaper reporter. He noted that the Supreme Court had held that U.S. citizenship “is not automatically lost by performance of certain acts such as serving in a foreign army” or voting in foreign elections.
The State Department said yesterday that a small but unknown number of U.S. citizens were serving as individuals in Israel’s armed forces. Mr. McCloskey explained that when a Jew enters Israel under an immigrant’s visa, he is automatically granted Israeli citizenship but does not lose U.S. citizenship unless he formally renounces it. The same applies to American nationals in any foreign country friendly to the U.S. Mr. McCloskey said that Americans holding Israeli citizenship are subject to call-up for military service just as the U.S. drafts resident aliens into its own armed forces.
The 1967 Supreme Court decision was based on such a case. An American, Beys Afroyim, who was deprived of his U.S. citizenship when he voted in an Israeli election, successfully used to have it restored. (Premier Golda Meir of Israel said in an election speech in Tel Aviv today that “Israel has never, does not and will never ask any country in the world to send soldiers to fight for us.”)
In his letter, which he asked to be circulated as an official document of the Security Council. Dr. el-Zayyat said that with the Tel Aviv embassy statement, the U.S. “commences today a new phase in its assistance to Israel through the joining of American citizens in Israeli armed forces. Consequently, the U.S. is contributing to the aggressive war which is being launched by Israel against the Arab countries; a method which does not differ much from the method by which the United States began its war in Vietnam.”
The letter goes on to assail the U.S., accusing it of violating the UN Charter and its obligations and of undermining the Nov. 22, 1967 Security Council resolution on Mideast peace “through providing Israel with arms and planes, and encouraging American citizens to take arms under the Israeli flag against the Arab people.”
(Donald Bergus, chief of American interests section at the Spanish Embassy in Cairo, called on the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s undersecretary, Salah Golar, yesterday to explain American policy that permits U.S. citizens to serve in the armed forces of friendly foreign powers without losing their citizenship. The Spanish Embassy handles American interests in Egypt since Cairo broke relations with Washington during the Six-Day War.
(But the explanations apparently had little effect in the Arab capitals. The Jordanian newspaper Al Destour charged yesterday that the U.S. had become a recruiting center for ISRAEL. Israel. The Beirut newspaper Al Uruba accused the U.S. of committing “direct aggression” on a Vietnam pattern and charged that America “enters the war against the Arabs.” The semi-official Cairo newspaper Al Ahram said the statement by the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv “confirmed beyond doubt” the presence of American military personnel in Israel’s armed forces and hinted that American pilots might be flying the Israeli Phantoms and Skyhawks. The Cairo newspaper Akhbar An Yom suggested that the U.S. was planning to establish a military air base in Israel to replace the Wheelus Air Force base in Libya from which it is being ousted by the new Libyan military regime. Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency reported that Libya had ordered its UN delegation to support Egypt’s protest and to deliver one of its own. Lebanese and Syrian newspapers gave banner headlines to the Egyptian letter to Mr. Thant.