NEW YORK (Aug. 5)
A letter from Standard Oil of California to its stockholders and employes, urging more positive support by the United States for “the aspirations of the Arab people” was denounced this weekend by many national Jewish organizations and by a U.S. Senator.
The critics included Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation; I. L. Kenen, chairman of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee; Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Southern California Council for Soviet Jewry in Los Angeles; Edward Sanders. president of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation-Council; and Sen. John V. Tunney, (D, Cal.)
The Standard Oil letter dated July 26, signed. by Standard Oil chairman Otto N. Miller, and sent to 262,000 stockholders and 40,000 employes, said Middle East oil reserves were vital to “the future welfare of the western world.” The oil company is a partner in the Arabian-American Oil Co. in Saudi Arabia.
Steins called the letter “a bald surrender to the oil pressures being applied against the United States by Arab countries.” He said that “space in the Middle East is so sensitive and subject to such continued and delicate negotiations that this gross interference by a multi-national corporation will set back the cause of peace in the Middle East.” He urged members of the Presidents Conference to inform their memberships of the development.
III-CONCEIVED, UNINFORMED, MISGUIDED
Rabbi Miller, in a telegram to the oil company chairman, said he was expressing “the deep sense of outrage and resentment of the Zionist movement in the United States at your ill-conceived, uninformed and misguided letter to your stockholders, urging them to influence American foreign policy in the Middle East by supporting Arab demands.”
Rabbi Miller added: “You ask American citizens to work towards conditions of peace and stability” in the Middle East “yet you surely must knew that our government is presently pursuing such a policy and it is the Arab governments which continue to stymie every initiative towards peace by refusing to enter talks with Israel to achieve such peace and stability.”
Continuing, the Zionist leader stated: “We are confident that the American government will not surrender to blackmail either by Arab governments or by Standard Oil of California. We agree with Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco, who stated on June 6, 1973, that the United States has the potential resources to meet its future energy needs and the capacity to develop whatever it needs in the long range. We therefore urge you not to panic in the face of empty Arab threats and to reconsider and rescind your unfortunate letter.”
ADVOCATE SURRENDER TO ARAB THREATS
Kenen said the letter was “tantamount to a demand for reversal of United States policy, which now strives for a negotiated settlement.” He called the letter “a brazen and outrageous attempt by Standard Oil of California to mobilize a pro-Arab lobby.”
Calling for a vigorous protest from Jewish leaders, Kenen emphasized he was not proposing a boycott of Standard Oil’s products since “we are against the boycott of Israel by Arabs.” He also said that the company had become “an open champion of Saudi Arabia, advocating that we surrender to the threats that the Arab states will curtail our crude oil supplies if we do not change our policy to suit Arab aspirations.”
Yaroslavsky called the letter an effort to induce the American people to “exchange Jewish blood for Arab oil.” He said members of his organization were planning a “project bonfire” at which they will burn Standard Oil credit cards.
Sanders said the letter apparently proposed “an unwarranted and irresponsible interference with stated American foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.” He added that the letter raised “serious ethical and moral questions as to the utilization of a vast profit making organization to influence American foreign policy.”
Tunney called the letter “counter-productive to peace” in the Middle East and said “we cannot solve our fuel crisis by selling out Israel.”
A company spokesman defended the letter as “a perfectly proper procedure” by which the company was “making our viewpoint known concerning the importance of Middle East oil to the United States and the necessity for peace and stability in that part of the world.”