Disastrous Us Mideast Policy Due to Lack of White House Staff Involvement

A former aide to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson said last night that “a lack of White House staff involvement” to counter-balance State Department judgements is creating a “disastrous” American policy in the Middle East. Speaking at the opening session of a two-day B’nai B’rith regional conference on Israel and Soviet Jewry, Myer Feldman, now a Washington attorney, said that during his four years in the White House as a White House counsel, “the American commitment to Israel was questioned repeatedly” by the State Department.

“Every President has been compelled to rely upon close personal advisors” in formulating Middle East policy, Feldman said. He noted that there is “a notable lack of involvement” by President Nixon’s staff advisors. Feldman said US policy in the Middle East “must reflect the complex considerations that only the President can evaluate.”

Feldman said that State Department views are “too often the bloodless product of a de-personalized machine or, even worse, the consensus dispatch of thirteen ambassadors in Arab countries and one in Israel.’ He stated that no Presidential re-affirmation of America’s obligation to support Israel has “represented a State Department initiative.” “All of them were made by a President personally,” Feldman said.

Dr. William A. Wexler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and former president of B’nai B’rith, acknowledged that the Nixon administration has sold more military equipment to Israel than any previous administration. “But,” he added, “it is disturbing that at a time when Arab threats have become more ominous and Soviet military assistance more massive, the United States continues to attach political strings to the sale of planes for Israel’s security.”

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