Mrs. Meir and Dr. Goldmann in Public Feud; Cabinet to Disclose Contacts with Arabs
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Mrs. Meir and Dr. Goldmann in Public Feud; Cabinet to Disclose Contacts with Arabs

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An angry public feud has broken out between Premier Golda Meir and Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress. It stems from the latter’s aborted plan to go to Cairo for informal meetings with top Egyptian leaders, including President Nasser, and from political views he has expressed in recent articles in Foreign Affairs Quarterly and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz accusing Mrs. Meir’s government of inflexibility in its approach to peace with the Arabs. Meanwhile the Cabinet was reported considering the release of more details on contacts between Israel and the Arab states that have reportedly taken place since the June 1967 war. Mrs. Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban have both referred to such contacts in public statements. They gave no details beyond saying that all contacts were fruitless. The matter was expected to be on today’s Cabinet agenda. The newspaper Haaretz said it arose because some Cabinet ministers believe the government’s handling of the Goldmann affair was clumsy. It is not questioning the decision to prevent Dr. Goldmann from going to Cairo, but rather the timing and wording of the government’s decision, Haaretz said.

According to informed sources, Mrs. Meir was obviously stung by criticism of the way she handled the so-called “Goldmann Affair,” and has already questioned Dr. Goldmann’s loyalty to Zionism and Israel. She told a group of Labor Party leaders from the Negev Tuesday that judged by his article in Foreign Affairs, Dr. Goldmann represents “the very antithesis of Zionism.” In an address to the opening session yesterday of the Israel Writers Association conference, Mrs. Meir drew a pointed contrast between those “who consider every inch of land dear” and others who are “indifferent to giving up a piece of land here and a piece there like cutting paper.” She did not mention Dr. Goldmann by name, but it was apparent that her reference was to his expressed view that Israel will have to make concessions in the interests of peace.


Dr. Goldmann, who was a seder guest at Kfar Ruppin in the Beisan Valley, said that he, “like everyone else,” is against “retreat prior to some arrangement,” but that Israel’s policy must become more flexible before any arrangement is possible. He expressed the view that his meeting with Nasser might have been fruitful had it been allowed to take place, and might have been followed by negotiations with the Arabs. Dr. Goldmann referred to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan as “the greatest personality in Israel” today, adding “You can discuss with him and disagree with him and yet remain a friend.” Gen. Dayan was mentioned frequently during Israel’s election campaign last year as a possible rival to Mrs. Meir for the Premiership.

Dr. Goldmann, in a statement to the press yesterday, said he did not want to discuss Zionism with Mrs. Meir because. “With all due respect she has to allow me not to consider her an authority on Zionist ideology. Her qualifications are minimal.” He accused the Premier of stating “half truths” in her version of his plans to go to Cairo. He said he never asked to be made a special envoy of Israel for the purpose and added that he had hoped the episode would be closed. “I am convinced that the Prime Minister has more important problems than to prolong this,” he said. Mrs. Meir was also critical of the publicity given abroad to a group of six Israeli liberal intellectuals who expressed views similar to Dr. Goldmann’s in an interview published by Newsweek magazine last week. “The intellectual section should become an integral part of the whole nation.” she told the Writers Association. Just before the interviews appeared, Foreign Minister Abba Eban rebuked Newsweek’s senior editor. Arnaud de Borchgrave, and the magazine’s Israeli correspondent and demanded space in Newsweek to answer the six. The magazine replied that Mr. Eban, like anyone else, could write a letter to the editor.

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