WASHINGTON (Aug. 31)
Sen. George McGovern said today that he stands by his July 20 proposal that the United States sell more combat jets to Israel and that Israel refrain from using them for forays over Arab territory. The South Dakota Democrat made his statement in a personal letter to Joseph Polakoff of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington bureau, replying to a sharp attack made on his proposals by Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr., Republican of Arizona. “I have been informed that a statement by Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. has been widely circulated through the facilities of the JTA,” Sen. McGovern wrote. “Congressman Goldwater’s remarks contain an inaccurate description of my July 20 statement on the Middle East.” Rep. Goldwater, son of Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, assailed Sen. McGovern’s proposal for seeking to restrict the use of Israeli air power over Egypt on grounds that it “would increase the possibility of an Egyptian-Soviet launched invasion across the canal.” Rep. Goldwater issued his statement three weeks before the cease-fire went into effect on Aug. 7.
In his letter to JTA today, Sen. McGovern said “It is irresponsible to apply careless cold war rhetoric to the Middle East situation as Rep. Goldwater has done. The situation is far too dangerous.” Sen. McGovern wrote. “Peace will not come to the Middle East as a result of an armaments race. But I believe that in order to prevent any misunderstanding from developing about Israel’s capacity to defend itself, the United States should provide it with aircraft. Beyond this move, the United States should, as it has been trying to do, play the role of peace-maker in the Middle East. For this reason, my statement (of July 20) contained a number of suggestions for dealing with the most critical issues in the Middle East…Instead of limiting our policy to brandishing weapons and epithets, we should make sure that Israel is able to defend itself and devote all our efforts to bringing a durable peace to the area.”