NEW YORK (May. 27)
Sen. Birch Bayh (D, Ind.) said today that the letter to President Ford, signed by 76 Senators last week, “put the Administration on notice that Congressional support for Israel is undiminished.” He also said that Israel had nothing to fear from the Ford Administration’s current reassessment of Middle East policy because, “If it is nothing more than a high-handed scare tactic…then it will surely backfire” but if it “is truly a review of our options, then I am convinced that, once having undergone the rigors of re-examination, our commitment to Israeli independence will emerge strengthened.”
Bayh, who was one of the signatories to the letter, addressed 300 delegates attending the two-day national leadership assembly convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at the Delmonico Hotel here.
Another speaker, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur J. Goldberg, analyzed in detail Security Council Resolution 242, which he helped draft in 1967 and concluded that it still provided the guidelines for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict achievable at Geneva.
CONCERN OVER REASSESSMENT
Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Presidents Conference, opened the leadership assembly last night with expressions of concern over the reassessment and certain recent American actions in the Middle East. He said it was “difficult for American Jews to understand the U.S. commitment to Jordan for the supply of Hawk missiles, while Israel’s requests for commitments for the weaponry it requires is deferred because of the ‘reassessment.’ Is it then only a reassessment for Israel or a reassessment which encompasses the entire area?” Rabbi Miller asked, “The words are not reassuring when the deeds lead us to queries of this nature,” he added.
Rabbi Miller also asserted that “Our country must not give in to Arab blackmail, whether it is saber-rattling, threats of oil embargoes or petro-dollar muscle-flexing. Support of Israel is a major weapon in the U.S. arsenal in implementing policies that will enable the world to have stable economic growth in a situation of non-confrontation,” he said.
Bayh said he welcomed the U.S. reassessment in the Middle East because, if an honest one, it will demonstrate to the American public that support for Israel “bears no relationship to a Vietnam policy that required more than two-and-one-half million Americans to face the horrors of war.”
He said he was “confident that Congress will assert itself in the course of the debate to reaffirm its commitment to a strong and independent Israel….I believe that our efforts have put the Administration on notice that our support for Israel is undiminished; that we believe in a secure Israel as the best guarantee against aggression; that the foreign aid bill cannot be used as leverage to force Israel to compromise its own security.”
RESOLUTION 242 STILL VALID
Goldberg told the delegates that “despite the passage of time since the adoption of Resolution 242 and the recent war, and perhaps because of these events, I adhere to the view that the resolution does provide the basis to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement between the parties, provided they will come to share the will and courage to achieve a just and lasting peace which is the goal of the resolution.”