NEW YORK (Jun. 6)
Demands that international airlines tighten security precautions were made today at a service at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue memorializing the victims of the Arab-backed massacre at Tel Aviv’s Lydda Airport last Tuesday night. Calling Egyptian Premier Aziz Sidky’s “applauding” of the incident “the height of criminal depravity,” Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, declared: “From the pulpit of mourning I appeal–nay, I demand–that the international community take every action necessary to safeguard the traveling community and rid the air routes once and for all of its international outlaws. We can no longer be satisfied with words and resolutions; we ask for tangible deeds on the part of governments working together and if necessary acting together against those who would oppose cooperation.”
“One wonders,” Rabin declared, “to what baseness, to what depths of foulness can people stoop….When Japanese killers in the service of Arabs in Beirut can kill and maim innocent Puerto Ricans so as to strike Israel–this, I think, is the ultimate in animal madness.” The “evil barbarism that struck our innocents so cruelly down but a few days ago” is “a commentary on the immoral fiber of those governments who lend support to the philosophy of mass cold-blooded murder as an instrument of their own bankrupt policy–terror,” Rabin continued. The tragedy might not have occurred “were it not for the sins of omission for which the international community is guilty,” he said, asking: “Must innocent travelers be gunned down by the score before airport and airline authorities wake up at last to their responsibility to the traveling public?”
BADILLO PLANS LEGISLATION
Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the Lydda gundown “was a tragedy that echoes through the corridor of nations, for no country, no airline, no airport is immune from this type of murderous attack.” When automatic rifles can “fire indiscriminately at innocent people,” the governments of the world “must act
Stein warned Arab terrorists and the world that the Lydda incident would not destroy Israel’s important tourist trade. “We stand solidly with Israel,” he asserted, “in her determination to stamp out by whatever means necessary the breeding grounds of murder and to take all action necessary so that her people may live in peace and safety.”
Rep. Herman Badillo (D.N.Y.), the only Puerto Rican in Congress, said in a speech prepared for delivery at the memorial gathering that “It is not enough to dismiss the massacre…by acknowledging that we live in a violent world or that virtually any fanatic willing to give up his own life can probably commit murder.” Only “firm and concerted action” by world governments can end “the long reign of terror launched by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” and overcome “international indifference” to such terrorism and “the casual attitude of the airlines and airport operators toward the safety of international travelers,” Badillo said.
He urged “two major initiatives” by the United States: to seek “an immediate international conference aimed at producing agreements on uniform standards for airline and airport protection” and to take “forceful steps to convince nations such as Lebanon that they cannot continue to harbor, support and encourage terrorist groups and receive our support and foreign aid.” Noting that he would submit legislation to this effect in the House this week, Badillo said its passage “could be the most fitting and lasting memorial” to the Lydda victims.
Memorial tributes were also delivered by Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation; Ambassador William E. Schaufele, Jr., senior advisor to the permanent US representative to the United Nations, George Bush; Japanese Consul General Masao Sawaki; the Rev. David Hunter, deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Rev. John Sheerin, editor of the New Catholic World, published by the US Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations.