WASHINGTON (Apr. 26)
American national interests in a stable Middle East “are better served by a peace constructed out of defensible borders than one dependent on questionable international guarantees,” Billy B. Goldberg of Houston, chairman of B’nai B’rith’s Cabinet on Israel Affairs, said yesterday. Addressing the Cabinet’s annual meeting, Goldberg said that, as abstract theory, one might not agree with the concept that real security for Israel lies not in “geographic” but in “political arrangements–a view expressed by Secretary of State William P. Rogers–but past experiences with international guarantees in the area have clearly demonstrated otherwise.” He maintained that Shorm of Sheikh and the Golan Heights are of negligible importance to the defense or economy of Egypt and Syria and “their only practical and symbolic value are as daggers poised at Israel’s vulnerable points.” American diplomacy, Goldberg said, in its concern for Middle East stability “for its own sake as well as to stem Soviet domination of the area,” should seek to thwart the return of territory that can again, as in the past, be used as a launching pad for aggression against Israel.
This view was also emphasized by Herman Edelsberg, director of the B’nai B’rith International Council, who called “diplomatic interventions” in support of an Israel pull-back as a precondition for further negotiation, “a case of returning Israel to the military vulnerability which has so often in the past tempted Arab military adventurers.” Edelsberg praised American diplomatic resourcefulness and military firmness for bringing about the cessation of Egypt’s war of attrition along the Suez Canal last August and for persuading President Anwar Sadat to announce publicly his readiness to recognize and sign a peace treaty with Israel–the first time any Arab leader had done so. “But,” he added, “it would be a mistake for the Nixon administration to minimize the potential dangers and to insist that Israel depend on international guarantees for her security.” The Cabinet adopted a $ 27 million goal for Israel Bond sales by B’nai B’rith, more than double the record $13.7 million achieved last year. A quarterly report on tree-planting in the B’nai B’rith Martyrs’ Forest near Jerusalem showed an increase to 46,600 for the first four months of 1971, as against 12,475 trees purchased under B’nai B’rith auspices in the same period last year.