WASHINGTON (Sep. 8)
President Ford met with 33 American Jewish leaders at the White House at his invitation for 40 minutes this after noon and received their support on the issue of stationing American technicians in Sinai under terms of the new Israeli-Egyptian interim accord.
Attending the meeting in the Cabinet room, at which Secretary of State Henry A, Kissinger was also present, were representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, headed by its chairman, Rabbi Israel Miller, and Max M. Fisher, chairman of the Board of the Governors of the Jewish Agency. Fisher, a personal friend of the President, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he had arranged the meeting. Also present at the meeting was Elmer Winter, president of the AJ Committee, representing his organization which is not a member of the Presidents Conference.
Fisher and Miller addressed reporters after the meeting. Miller said Ford had told the group that “a large supporting majority in Congress” for the technicians to man an advance warning radar station between the new Israeli and Egyptian lines in Sinai “would help the atmosphere for peace” and that the Jewish leaders concurred. “We offered our help in that direction.” Miller said.
Asked by a reporter, “Did he (the President) ask you for support” in the Congress? Miller replied, “The President is more sophisticated than to ask that directly.” But, he observed, “The President would be very happy if we did.” He indicated that Ford felt that not only a majority, but an overwhelming majority of support in Congress would be better for the interim agreement and would support a movement for peace in the Mideast.
When Fisher was asked why leaders of the American Jewish community were so supportive of the technicians while so many in Israel were against it, he replied, referring apparently to the interim agreement as whole, that as in any democratic society, there are some against it. But he said the Knesset’s overwhelming endorsement of the accord indicated the majority feeling in Israel.
Fisher maintained that the pact was good for America and good for Israel. He conceded that there certainly are risks involved but said that one of the great things” about the interim accord is that there will be time for further negotiations.
Miller said that Kissinger indicated to the Jewish leaders that the major problem in Congress was not the presence of U.S. technicians in Sinai but the matter of aid. He said the Secretary reported that the questions he was asked at his appearances before Congressional committees concerned economic aid rather than technicians.
Miller said that the question of U.S. aid to Israel was only touched on and the figure of $2 billion-plus was mentioned but nothing specific was discussed. There was also no discussion of any future negotiations on the Golan Heights or the supply of U.S. arms to Israel at today’s meeting. Miller said the technicians issue was expected to be resolved by a joint resolution in Congress in 10 days, to be followed by the aid package the Administration will submit.
Miller said the Jewish leaders wished Ford well and expressed gratification over his escape from an attempted assassination last Friday. They told him that prayers for his welfare were offered in synagogues during the Rosh Hashanah services.
Miller said the issues of Soviet Jewry and Syrian Jewry were discussed but gave no details. Today’s meeting was the first between the President and a large group of American Jewish leaders since last December when the issue was the Jackson Amendment.
ATTENTION: There will be no Bulletins dated Sept. 15 or 16 due to the Yom Kippur holiday.