WASHINGTON (Feb. 24)
The United States Government today strongly condemned Arab acts of “terrorism against innocent civilians.” The Israeli Government, through its Embassy here, issued a statement at the same time bitterly condemning the “international community” for allegedly remaining silent and taking no action to curb Arab terrorism aimed against Israel’s airline and other airlines serving Israel. The U.S. statement, by State Department spokesman Robert W. Becker, followed the death of a Michigan woman yesterday in an Arab terrorist ambush of a busload of American Christian tourists near Hebron. It was also apparently aimed at last Saturday’s crash of an Israel-bound Swiss air Jet at Zurich in which 47 persons–eight Americans among them–were killed. “Such irresponsible and indiscriminate acts can only make more difficult the search for peace in the Middle East which is our overriding goal,” Mr. Becker said.
The Israel Embassy statement, in the form of a policy background paper titled “Atrocity in Zurich,” stated “The victims of Zurich did not die at the hands only of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.) They died at the hands of a callous permissiveness that has for too long made Arab aggression against Israel a tolerable exception, a phenomenon to be condoned, an aberration to be tolerated.” The paper specifically charged the governments of the Arab countries with “first degree murder” for encouraging, sheltering and supporting terrorists.
The Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations called on the international aviation community to “refuse to surrender to the Arab terrorists’ blackmail campaign” against international air travel. A statement issued by Dr. William A. Wexler, president of the Conference, declared: “We deplore the action of certain airlines in suspending deliveries of cargo and mail to Israel. Punishing the victims of sabotage while rewarding the criminals can only further incite the terrorists.” The statement added that “Arab fanatics cannot be halted by yielding to them but only by resistance against them. This means action by governments, by the United Nations, and by the international aviation community.”
ARAB LIBERATION MOVEMENT SEEN AS FACADE FOR COWARDLY CRIMINALS
Rabbi Solomon J. Sharfman, president of the Synagogue Council of America, the national coordinating agency for the Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox branches of American Judaism, condemned “the Arab liberation movement as a facade for cowardly criminals who murder innocent civilians.” He also urged those political and religious organizations “who have in the past uncritically glorified the Palestinian guerrillas that they search their consciences for having given encouragement, however indirectly, to the shedding of innocent blood.” The Jewish Labor Committee and the Workmen’s Circle telegraphed Secretary of State William P. Rogers to request an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council for action on “terror committed against civilian air travellers.”
The American Jewish Congress urged that Arab countries whose governments protect and support terrorists be sealed off from world air traffic. The AJ Congress national governing council issued a resolution declaring that “ultimate responsibility lies with the Arab governments that provide encouragement, funds, training, weapons, political support and refuge for the fanatics.” Their resolution added, “Our own country must not be silent.” Rabbi Abraham Gross, president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, an Orthodox group, denounced the ban by several airlines on freight and mail flights to Israel and urged it be lifted immediately. Earl Morse, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said, “at a time when the indignant voice of a shocked mankind should reverberate throughout the world, we find, instead, relative silence among international heads of state and responsible religious leaders of all faiths. Such silence serves only to compound the tragedy perpetrated by sinister fanatics.”