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Bentsen Urges U.S. Trade Concessions to Israel to Counteract the Arab Boycott

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Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D. Tex.), a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, called for U.S. trade concessions to Israel to counteract the Arab boycott. Addressing a public forum at the biannual meeting of B’nai B’rith’s board of governors, Bentsen made his proposal after Arnold Forster, general counsel of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, had charged the Administration with “actively opposing” measures to strengthen the resistance of American business firms to the boycott.

Forster said that despite public denunciations of the boycott by President Ford, spokesmen for the State, Treasury, Defense and Commerce Departments had consistently testified against Congressional proposals to illegalize the practice.

Bentsen warned against Soviet encroachment in the Middle East by strengthening Israel–“our counterbalance to the Soviets”–through an expansion of trade, enactment of stiff laws against the Arab boycott, military aid to Israel and a reduction of American dependence on Arab oil. These measures, Bentsen said, would prevent a tilt of the balance of power in the Middle East toward the Soviet Union.

TERRORISTS WILL NOT DETERMINE FUTURE

Bentsen, who with Senate minority leader Hugh Scott (R. Pa.), introduced legislation authorizing the President to withdraw the U.S. from the General Assembly and cut off U.S. funds should the Arabs succeed in ousting Israel, said that the U.S. would not “tolerate the expulsion of Israel. Let no one doubt our commitment on that.” he declared. “The future of the United States and Israel will not be determined by blackmailers or terrorists. It will be determined by our own ties and friendship.”

Forster criticized Administration opposition to an anti-boycott law–which it has explained as interfering with Middle East peace negotiations and harmful to American-Arab trade relations–as “specious rationalizations.” He added: “Experience has shown that when American companies firmly reject the boycott and continue to trade with Israel, their Arab customers, who heed American products, goods and technical know-how, blink at the boycott.”

The B’nai B’rith board of governors praised the action of the Canadian government in cancelling in Toronto a UN conference on the prevention of crime, because the Palestine Liberation Organization would have been a participant. It expressed appreciation “in a practical way” by voting to convene the 1978 convention in the same city.

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