TEL AVIV (Apr. 30)
There was no official comment in Israel today over the surrender of Saigon, acknowledged to be a major defeat for American diplomatic and military policies in Southeast Asia. But for average Israelis, discussing the event in their offices, on the streets and at meeting places, the fall of South Vietnam to the Viet Cong had gloomy implications for the integrity of American commitments to Israel which the latest reports from Washington have done little to dispel.
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s reassuring words to America’s friends at his White House press conference yesterday that the U.S. would stand by its commitments, had an ambiguous ring to many Israelis. Kissinger said “One lesson we must learn from this experience. (Vietnam) is that we must be very careful in the commitments we make, but that we should scrupulously honor those commitments that we make.”
The fact that the Secretary offered that very general reply to a reporter’s specific question as to whether the failure in Vietnam meant that the U.S. will never again come to the military or economic aid of an ally, such as Israel, was seen by many here as a deliberate evasion.
Israelis are frankly worried by mounting reports indicating that Washington intends to exert heavy pressure on Israel by denying it military and financial aid. The newspaper Maariv said in an editorial tonight that the tragic and to the chapter of American involvement in Vietnam brother’s about a process of reassessment of relations between the U.S. and its friends and foe’ alike throughout the world and the U.S. must define, quickly and clearly, what are the limits of its new commitments.
ALLON SAYS LESSONS MUST BE DRAWN
(The only Israeli leader to comment on the events in Indochina was Foreign Minister Yigal Allon who told a press conference in Paris that afternoon that both America and Western Europe should draw lessons from the Vietnam tragedy and help their friends and allies. He said he did not believe America would abandon its friends in Europe, Latin America or the Middle East because of what happened in Southeast Asia.)
One source of anxiety expressed here was that the U.S., despite its major political and military failures in the Far East, still believes it can ### tate to other nations on matters of their security, policy and very existence. Such expressions re-flected bitterness among Israelis over the U.S. attitude indicated by President Ford and Kissinger that if only Israel had made concessions to Egyptian demands, the recent bilateral talks conducted by Kissinger might have succeeded.