NEW YORK (Sep. 20)
An official of the American Jewish Committee said today that it withdrew its civic leadership award to Donald M. Kendall, chairman of Pepsico Inc. because of his active opposition to the Jackson/Mills-Vanik legislation linking trade concessions to the Soviet Union with free emigration for Jews and others.
Bertram Gold, executive vice-president of the AJ Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Kendall had been designated as the recipient of the 1973 award as long as two years ago before trade concessions to Russia became an issue. Gold said, however, that Kendall’s lobbying against the trade bill amendments was brought to the AJ Committee’s attention within the past two weeks by various “individuals” and it was decided that presentation of the award to Kendall was no longer appropriate. Gold said that Kendall concurred in that view.
The award, to have been presented at a testimonial dinner here Oct. 30, was announced last Aug. At that time it was common knowledge that Pepsico had entered into a five-year trade agreement with the Soviet Union. Gold said the AJ Committee did not object to the deal because it regarded it as part of U.S.-Soviet detente which it always favored.
LITTLE PRESSURE EXERTED
Announcement of the deal last spring, under which a Pepsi Cola bottling plant will be built in the USSR led many American-Jewish groups to call for a boycott of Pepsico Co., products and services. Gold told the JTA, however, that “very little pressure” had been brought to bear on the AJ Committee to withdraw its honor to the Pepsico chief.
An AJ Committee spokesman said yesterday that retraction of the award was “no reflection of Mr. Kendall’s excellent record of leadership in civic efforts,” particularly to expand employment opportunities for minority groups. Kendall was identified by the Washington Post recently as the author of a telegram sent to 64 presidents of major American corporations urging them to rally in opposition to the Jackson/Mills-Vanik bills. The AJ Committee has not named a substitute recipient for this year’s civic leadership award.