HOUSTON (Sep. 3)
Two former presidents of the Zionist Organization of America warned here that the problem of Watergate and the appointment of Dr. Henry A. Kissinger as Secretary of State could adversely affect the United States’ long-standing support of Israel.
Speaking at the 76th annual convention of the ZOA, Jacques Torezyner of New York said that Nixon’s loss of power and prestige as a result of Watergate “may encourage Congressional leaders favoring a more isolationist foreign policy to seek a reduction in U.S. military and diplomatic backing of Israel.” Rabbi Max Nussbaum of Hollywood, Calif., said Dr. Kissinger, as the first Jewish Secretary of State in U.S. history, may feel obliged to placate Arab demands “in order to show his Jewishness does not make him a partisan to the conflict.”
Torczyner noted that while Congress is still predominantly pro-Israel “powerful spokesmen of isolationism” such as Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman J. William Fulbright “may seize on President Nixon’s Watergate troubles” to press for greater U.S. disengagement abroad.
As regards Israel, he said, this could mean attempts to lessen financial and military support, “a potentially catastrophic stroke, given Israel’s reliance on the United States alone among the big powers.” Torczyner said he feared they would also try to promote a more “neutral” Middle East stand in diplomatic discussions and before international forums.
Rabbi Nussbaum, while praising Dr. Kissinger as “capable and brilliant” and applauding his appointment, said he wished Dr. Kissinger had been named to the post “after a peace settlement between Israel and the Arabs had been accomplished.” He said Dr. Kissinger may “have to counteract Arab hostility” to his appointment to mollify them “at Israel’s expense” in order to demonstrate that his being a Jew does not influence his objectivity on the Middle East situation.
ZOA HEAD DEFENDS INTERCEPTION
In an address to the convention Friday night, ZOA president Herman L. Weisman defended Israel’s interception of a Lebanese airliner as an attempt to capture a high-ranking terrorist leader, Dr. George Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and deplored the failure by the United Nations to take concerted action against terrorism.
“Israel places the sanctity of the lives of Its , men, women and children above its respect for boundary line with countries which encourage terrorism,” Weisman said. “No one-sided resolution engineered by the Arab-African bloc will deflect Israel from its duty to protect Jewish lives.” He said the U.S. and Israel are the only nations in the UN “who want to put teeth in the condemnation of international banditry” but are thwarted by the Arab-African bloc.