WASHINGTON (Dec. 3)
Secretary of Commerce Rogers C.B. Morton disclosed yesterday that the Department of Commerce has fined four American companies $1000 each for failing to report to the Department demands by Arab countries to comply with their boycott against Israel, Morton, in a letter to Rep. Harley Staggers (D. W. Va.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, revealed the names of the companies fined. They are Agip U.S.A. Inc.; Inter-Equipment Co.; and the National Cash Register Co., all of New York and Continental Emsco Co. of Houston.
Morton’s letter was his second overture in less than a week to Congress where he faces contempt charges for having refused to divulge information on the Arab boycott and American firms responding to it. His action followed measures taken by President Ford two weeks ago to tighten federal regulations dealing with discriminatory tactics by American companies against other American companies with respect to the Arab boycott.
Until now, the Administration has refused the demand by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Investigations to turn over to it specific materials in its study of the boycott. The refusal was on grounds of confidentiality.
TWO FIRMS FACE CHARGES
The full House Commerce Committee, chaired by Staggers, will deal with its subcommittee’s recommendation that Morton be cited for contempt. The Commerce Secretary stated in his letter that two other companies are facing charges but did not disclose their names. He did not name any of the 212 companies that, he said, have been warned to supply the Commerce Department with the required data on the Arab boycott.
Morton cautioned that, the companies did not necessarily take part in the boycott but said they should have filed reports as required by law. Morton, who will resign his post effective Jan. 1, offered last week to reveal the names of companies that have complied with Arab boycott demands but insisted that the subcommittee not make public the names of those companies. Subcommittee chairman John Moss (D. Calif.) rejected the offer. The full committee is expected to take up the contempt citation against Morton tomorrow.
AJ CONGRESS LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Congress announced in New York yesterday that it was launching a nationwide campaign to require major U.S. corporations to tell their shareholders whether they are participating in the Arab boycott of Israel or discriminating against Jews.
Will Maslow, general counsel of the AJ Congress, said at a press conference that the organization was invoking Security and Exchange Commission regulations to seek information about “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish practices, if any” by approximately 100 publicly-owned American firms.
“Stockholders are entitled to know their companies’ participation in boycotts, restrictive trade practices and religious discrimination.” Maslow said. He explained that “Among other reasons job discrimination and participation in boycotts could result in legal action for damages against the company.”
DEMANDS REPORT TO STOCKHOLDERS
Maslow reported that the AJ Congress has purchased stock in five major U.S. corporations–General Motors, Hewlett-Packard. International Harvester and World Airways–each of which has been or will be requested to include a resolution in the proxy statements they distribute prior to their annual stockholders’ meetings calling for “a full written report to the shareholders…on the company’s policy toward compliance, tacit or overt, with the demands of the Arab boycott.”
Maslow said those particular companies were selected as the first targets of the campaign “because each of them is seeking business relationships with Arab countries and corporations, companies and individuals and may be involved in illegal, restrictive and discriminatory practices.”
Naomi Levine, executive director of the AJ Congress, told the press conference that “the expansion of the Arab boycott during the past year and the importation of Arab bigotry against Jews into the U.S. threatens not only Israel but also the American Jewish community.” She said that “by giving the aura of business respectability to religious discrimination, the Arab boycott poses a serious challenge to the quality of citizenship of American Jews.”