WASHINGTON (Jun. 11)
Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin angrily assailed un-named Israeli officials and the Jerusalem correspondent of the Washington Post for a dispatch published on the front page of the Post today alleging that the Israeli envoy favored President Nixon’s re-election. Addressing a special press conference called for Israeli journalists at the Israel Embassy at noon today, Rabin declared that statements he had made in an interview he gave recently in Washington for the Israel State Radio on the occasion of the Six-Day War anniversary was “misquoted” and “out of context.” He charged that the Washington Post dispatch, by Yuval Elizur, represented an “effort to cause great damage between the United States and Israel, between the American and Israeli people and between the Jewish communities in Israel and the US.”
The dispatch appeared under the headline, “Israeli Preference for Nixon Hinted.” and stated that Ambassador Rabin had “indicated that he would favor President Nixon’s re-election in November’s election.” It quoted the Israeli Ambassador as saying, “while we appreciate support in the form of words we are getting from one camp, we must prefer support in the form of deeds from the other camp.”
Rabin said he was misquoted. He said that in the original interview, conducted in Hebrew, he had indeed distinguished between support by words and support by deeds but did not relate them to either “camp.” He stressed that the policy of the Israel Government and its Embassy is not to interfere in any domestic affairs of the US. In more than four years as Ambassador in Washington he said, he had pursued that policy and would continue to pursue it as long as he is Ambassador.
Rabin expressed “disgust” at the anonymous Israeli officials which the dispatch said had “expressed their view that this time the ambassador may get a severe reprimand perhaps from the ‘highest possible sources’ perhaps even from Prime Minister Golda Meir.”
“I am not aware up to this time-which is 6:30 p.m. in Israel-about a reprimand for what I said from my authorities,” Rabin told the newsmen. He said it was “ironic that no American reporter has put into writing what the article from Jerusalem tried to relate to me and put in the name of Israeli officials.” He said it was “shocking and inconceivable that any responsible Israeli official would try to misread-give the interpretation that the reporter from Israel has given my interview.”
Israeli sources in Washington said today that the Post story represented an “unprecedented attempt by certain circles in Israel who are so cowardly that they use an Israeli who serves as a reporter for an American newspaper to put such an interpretation” on Ambassador Rabin’s “actions and words.” The sources described the Post article as an attempt to “sabotage” the Ambassador’s “successful efforts” to improve relations between Israel and the US by “informing the public in the US and Israel what the positions are of the various candidates in regard to Israel.”
“Our policy has always been to praise those who help Israel,” one Israeli source emphasized. “If you will refer to the actual interview you can see that throughout the years only the White House has over-ridden the bureaucracy in supporting Israel, and not only one administration,” the source said, noting that Rabin’s interview had started with praise for President Truman’s support for Israel.
Asked whether Ambassador Rabin had ever said publicly or privately whether he favored President Nixon, the source replied that the Ambassador has only spoken of matters relating to Israel and the US and that there was nothing in the interview that went beyond matters directly affecting Israel and the Middle East. No American has approached the Ambassador about today’s story in the Washington Post, the source said.
Rabin said that he was quoted correctly in the dispatch as saying that no other American President had made such a far-reaching statement committing the US to support Israel’s existence as the declaration made by President Nixon in his address to Congress upon his return from the summit conference in Moscow. In that address, Nixon said, “Our summit conversations about the Middle East situation was also full, frank and extensive. I reiterated the American people’s commitment to the survival of Israel and to a settlement just to all the countries in the area.”