Pompidou Says Embargo on Israel Planes Will Remain As Long As Mideast War Continues
Menu JTA Search

Pompidou Says Embargo on Israel Planes Will Remain As Long As Mideast War Continues

Download PDF for this date

French President Georges Pompidou told a television news conference this morning that the embargo against French jets to Israel “will last as long as the war does.” He also told the conference, held at the Waldorf Astoria shortly before he was scheduled to fly back to Paris, that France did not set out to sell planes to Libya. “We set out to fill a void and Libya did not have the planes. If we did not sell them to her, someone else would.” M. Pompidou said he was satisfied with his trip to the United States despite the numerous pro-Israel demonstrations staged in a number of cities across the country. In his farewell news conference M. Pompidou said that he and President Nixon reached a “full understanding” on world problems. Those talks included the situation in the Middle East.

Yesterday, more than 5,000 persons staged a demonstration outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where M. Pompidou was being feted, to protest France’s sale of 110 Mirage jets to Libya. Demonstrators massed for four hours in an area opposite the Waldorf, cordoned off by police. They shouted “Pompidou Go Home,” and “Boo, Boo, Pompidou.” Many carried placards reading “Israel Must Live,” “How Many Jewish Boys Are Buried in France? How Many Arabs?” “Equality of Arms in the Mideast” and “Israeli Blood and Arab Oil Don’t Mix.” Thousands of voices sang the Israeli National Anthem, Hatikvah and young demonstrators danced the bora. Some Jewish leaders noted that the turnout was only half that in Chicago last Saturday, but spokesmen for the AJ Congress and the Jewish War Veterans expressed satisfaction with it, the former noting that the total turnout in the series of demonstrations here exceeded Chicago’s one.


Richard Cohen, AJ Congress associate director and spokesman for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called the turnout “excellent, especially in the face of President Nixon’s apology.” Mr. Nixon, who made an unprecedented appearance at the dinner, substituting for Vice Pres. Spiro T. Agnew, said humorously: “I wanted them (the Pompidous) to see… the United States as a President of the United States saw it. And I must say, we overdid it a bit, as we usually do.” He later added that French-American friendship “is so deep and so long that any minor irritation or bad manners or differences are not going to impair it.”

David Sidman, executive director of the JWV’s New York State division, said he was “very well pleased” with the turnout and was “glad we stood our ground” against White House “pressure” to cancel JWV’s pre-scheduled meeting at the hotel. At the meeting, Jerome D. Cohen, chairman of the divisions action committee, called on Pres. Nixon to send 50 jets to Israel to make up for France’s embargo on 50 paid-for planes.

On Sunday, Pres. Nixon had phoned an apology to M. Pompidou for the Chicago demonstration. Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago was critical of Pres. Nixon’s apology and declared nothing had occurred in Chicago that required it. Mr. Daley said the demonstrators deserved to be complimented for “the orderly manner in which they exercised their rights as American citizens.” Early yesterday M. Pompidou cancelled a scheduled meeting with representatives of major American Jewish organizations. Dr. William A. Wexler, president of the Conference, and Philip Hoffman, president of the AJ Committee, issued a joint statement deploring M. Pompidou’s “act of discourtesy.” Later in the day, Jewish leaders met with R. Sargent Shriver, United States Ambassador to France, and expressed concern with France’s Mideast policy. Spokesmen would say only that Shriver was “diplomatic, cordial, helpful, fair and understanding,” and made “excellent suggestions” that left the leaders “less pessimistic.” M. Pompidou told Pres. Nixon that the reason he did not keep his date with Jewish leaders was that he felt such meetings can sometimes be useless and counter-productive. He said he did not intend the cancellation as an insult to the Jewish people.

As M. Pompidou was speaking to newsmen at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, airport and city police were conducting a thorough check of his plane after an Air France employee received an anonymous phone call stating “Pompidou’s plane will not take off today. There is a bomb on it and it will blow up.” An intensive search of the jet airliner failed to turn up any bomb. Referring to the demonstrations, M. Pompidou told newsmen, “I will not conceal there were incidents that will leave a very slight impression in my memory. In respect to Chicago, it is largely the attitude of the municipal authorities rather than the attitude of the demonstrators that struck me.” Pompidou reportedly was critical of the Chicago police for allowing demonstrators to get close to himself and his entourage.


Dr. William A. Wexler, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, charged today that in condemning the Chicago and New York demonstrations, Pres. Pompidou had “consciously overreacted” in “a transparent attempt to divert attention from the real issues on which Americans oppose French policy” in the Mideast. Dr. Wexler predicted that M. Pompidou’s

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund