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Presidents Conference to Launch Campaign to Win Public Support for Military, Economic Aid to Israel

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is launching a campaign to win broad public support in the United States for military and economic aid to Israel, it was announced today at a press conference here.

Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Presidents Conference, who made the announcement, said that he is confident that the American people will recognize, that as a result of the Egyptian-Israeli agreement, the U.S. political interest in the Middle East has grown, while the Soviet Union’s influence has been significantly reduced. For this reason, Miller stated, he believes that the American people will understand that a strong Israel is in the strategic interest of the United States.

“Every American is concerned by the combination of recession and inflation that threatens our economic security.” Miller said. “For this reason we must point out that the cost to our country of a Middle East war, or an oil embargo, or a confrontation with the Soviet Union, would be infinitely higher than the cost of foreign aid. We must at the same time make clear that the over-whelming proportion of American assistance to Israel will be spent in the United States for military supplies produced by American working men in American factories.”

Miller conceded, however, that he was troubled by reports of “friendly Congressmen” who said that the mail they are getting is running against large-scale assistance to Israel. He added that the campaign will aim at changing this attitude and would be directed initially at the Jewish community itself and then through the Presidents Conference’s constituent members at the general community.

On the meeting of the Presidents Conference with President Ford and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger last Monday in the White House, Miller said that both Ford and Kissinger expressed the firm belief that the Israeli-Egyptian agreement was a major step on the path to peace and that approval by Congress by a strong vote for the stationing of American technicians in the Sinai is vital in creating the proper atmosphere of American support and endorsement within which Israel and Egypt may work toward cooperation and accommodation leading to further progress toward peace.

“The Secretary told us further that he believed the Egyptian-Israeli contact called for in the agreement would provide a way of testing the willingness of each side to cooperate with–and thus build trust with–the other,” he said. Miller said that the Presidents Conference also discussed with Ford the issue of Soviet Jewry and told him that the harassment of Jews in the USSR has increased recently while emigration has declined.

Kissinger, Miller said, contended that he had never met Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and that the President had never met with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev without raising the issue of Soviet Jewry.

On his recent visit to Rumania, to which he was invited by the Rumanian government, Miller said that he was “deeply impressed” by the active Jewish communal, cultural and religious life. He said he was impressed by Jewish life as expressed in Jewish theater, kosher restaurants, children’s chorus and welfare institutions. He had high words of praise for Rabbi Moses Rosen, the Chief Rabbi of Rumania.

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