WASHINGTON (Oct. 10)
“We salute your courage. We embrace your hopes. We share your anguish and prayers as we say together with you. Am Yisroel Chai–the people of Israel live, and shall live. “These were the concluding words of the cable sent last night to Israeli Premier Golda Meir as a sign of solidarity with Israel’s embattled people by the emergency national convocation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The convocation, at the Shoreham Hotel, was attended by more than 400 Jewish organizational leaders representing the Conference’s 31 secular and religious bodies and the overwhelming majority of American Jews. The nationwide gathering, arranged on less than 24 hours notice, was to mobilize public support for Israel’s cause among all Americans. The three-hour session was marked by a somber mood and in an atmosphere of unremitting devotion to Israel and determination to turn back the Arab attackers and their allies
The convocation expressed its purposes and determination in a resolution that declared: “We gather at a moment of profound crisis for the Jewish State and the Jewish people. Once again Israel finds herself the victim of aggression, disadvantaged because she risked greater casualties by observing obligations to respect the cease-fire agreement rather than launch a preemptive strike against massed Egyptian and Syrian forces.”
The resolution called on the Nixon Administration with the support of Congress “to move forthwith to restore the full strength of Israel’s defense capability to meet and repel the challenge of Arab aggressors aimed at destroying Israel. Israel must receive-the military, political and moral support she requires, to the extent and of the nature called for.”
Typifying the feelings of numerous members of the two houses of Congress and of both major parties who have been making statements backing Israel, Senator Edward F. Kennedy (D.Mass.) and Senator Richard S, Schweiker (R.Pa.) gave firm assurances of full support to the Jewish State in personal appearances at the convocation. Their remarks, welcomed by standing ovations, followed a report on the war situation by Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Simcha Dinitz and an appeal by Jacob Stein, the Conference chairman, for financial assistance to Israel. Stein pointed out that Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir had advised him that the cost to Israel of the current fighting, in its fourth day, already exceeded $1 billion.
GOAL: TO RETURN TO CEASE-FIRE LINES
Dinitz stressed that Israel’s goals now are to drive every Egyptian and Syrian soldier back to last Friday’s cease-fire lines and “hand both these armies such a devastating blow that never–at least for a long time–will they be able to regroup themselves for another attack.” No one in Israel, he said, “doubts the successful outcome” but he indicated a long struggle ahead, saying “we have to recondition ourselves for a harder war than some of us thought initially.”
Israel, he said, needed time and war material. The Jewish nation, he added, facing “in one day” 2000 tanks from Egypt and 1000 from Syria, “countless” planes and missiles of the most sophisticated kind in the Russian arsenal, suffered heavy losses in human beings and equipment. “We inflicted heavier losses than we suffered but this is no consolation for us,” the envoy said. “Our purpose is not to kill the enemies but to live in peace with them.”
Dinitz declared that “in the weeks” before the attack began on Yom Kippur, the Soviet Union had increased its shipments of arms in “unparalleled quantities and quality” to its Arab allies. While the Russians, he added, evacuated their troops from Syria, they left behind their planes, tanks, missiles and know-how. He questioned how the build-up of Russian weaponry used in the attacks “fits into the spirit of detente.”
Kennedy, noting that since President Truman’s formal recognition by the United States of Israel this nation has been pledged to the independence of Israel, declared: “I say that we will stand by that pledge today and tomorrow and for however long it takes for all nations to accept the existence and the independence of the State of Israel.”
The convocation was arranged simultaneously with the preparations for local rallies of Jews and non-Jews in approximately 125 communities across the country.