WASHINGTON (Nov. 14)
President Ford personally rebuked Gen. George S. Brown. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his allegations that American Jews and Israel exert undue influence on American policy. The rebuke was administered by the President at a face-to-face meeting with Brown at the White House early this morning, White House Press Secretary Ronald Nessen informed reporters today aboard the Presidential jet, Air Force One, en route to Las Vegas, Nev. where the President was to speak. There was no indication, however, that Ford would dismiss Brown amid mounting demands for his ouster.
Nessen did not reveal the words the President used in his conversation with Brown. He referred reporters to his statement of yesterday to White House correspondents that the President considered Brown’s remarks to have been “ill advised and poorly handled.” Asked if the President had summoned Brown to the White House to rebukehim, Nessen replied, “I wouldn’t discourage you from saying that,”
But there was no diminution today of demands from Congressmen, Jewish and non-Jewish leaders that the President remove Brown from the nation’s highest military post. There were indications that inquiries into Brown’s slurring remarks about Jews at the Duke University Law School Oct. 10 will be asked in both houses of Congress when Congressmen return Monday from their election recess. A survey by the Jewish Tele graphic Agency among Congressional aides indicated that from the tenor of the protests and the number of calls that they have been receiving, there seemed little doubt that Brown would be summoned before Congressional committees for questioning.
PROXMIRE: ‘BROWN MUST GO’
Sen. William Proxmire and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights blasted Brown and questioned his fitness to remain in office as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Brown must go,” the Wisconsin Democrat declared in a statement noting that the General’s remarks about American Jews and Israel would affect the morale of American military forces.
“It is outrageous that a man with his power, prestige and influence should harbor or express such false and vicious anti-Semitic views,” Proxmire said, referring to Brown’s cannard that Jewish money controls Congress through alleged Jewish ownership of American banks and newspapers.
The views of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, whose chairman is Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, were expressed in a telegram to Ford today from the Conference’s Veterans Task Force. The Conference embraces more than 150 Force. The Conference embraces more than 150 national organizations of the three major faiths, organized labor, war veterans. Blacks and whites.
The telegram, to the President and to Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, said that Brown’s remarks about Jewish influence in the United States “call into serious question his fitness to serve as the highest officer in a democracy. Those of us who represent veterans, who have fought for a world free of bigotry and racial and religious hatred, are particularly alarmed to hear such views from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Proxmire observed in his statement that “Gen. Brown may indeed not be anti-Semitic as he maintains, but if so, he is remarkably ignorant and in sensitive. His charges are wholly untrue” and their effect “is bound to feed and influence anti-Semtic sentiment in the armed forces and in the country”
The Senator observed that contrary to Brown’s allegations “there is probably no industry in this country that has more consistently and cruelly rejected Jews from positions of power and influence than commercial banking,” He added, “While newspapers have not practiced the same exclusionary policy, it Is a fact that, with very few exceptions, publishers and editors of American newspapers are non-Jewish.”
FORD’S RESPONSE A DISAPPOINTMENT
In a related statement, Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (D.NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee for Europe, urged Brown’s removal today “for making the most dangerously anti-Semitic remarks ever made publicly by a high official of our government.” Rosenthal expressed his sentiments in a letter to Ford in which he recorded his “disappointment” over the White House statement yesterday that Brown’s remarks were “ill advised.” According to Rosenthal that was “an inadequate response when the nation’s highest ranking military officer makes statements which are a carbon copy of those of the most malicious anti-Semites” The Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, director of the office of communication of the United Church of Christ made public a letter to Ford in which he deemed Brown’s continuation in office as “insupportable.” Dr. Parker wrote: “I am dismayed by the anti-Semitic slurs of Gen. George S. Brown especially as they refer to Jewish control of newspapers. They are reminiscent of Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S. to whom Brown telephoned an apology yesterday, which JWV National Commander Judge Paul Ribner deemed unacceptable, continued its nationwide campaign for the General’s ouster. Ribner announced in Philadelphia today that he was calling on JWV members and their families to urge Ford and their elected representatives to bring about Brown’s dismissal. “This matter transcends the Jewish question,” Judge Ribner said.”Brown is unfit to hold office.” The JWV national office in Washington reported receiving “literally hundreds of phone calls” protesting Brown’s remarks.