NEW YORK (Mar. 9)
The Ford Administration’s plan to sell six giant transport planes to Egypt came under fire today from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee and Rep. Bella Abzug (D.-L.,NY).
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Presidents Conference, sent a telegram to President Ford conveying “the grave concern of the member organizations…which is shared by many other segments of American society, concerning the initiation and signalled extension of U.S. military sales to Egypt.” Rabbi Schindler’s telegram, released to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “respectfully and urgently” requested “a response which will clarify the Administration’s position and intentions in this realm.”
It said that the Presidents Conference understood and “therefore accepted and even supported” the “general thrust of American foreign policy which seeks to draw Egypt into the orbit of U.S. influence” by granting economic aid to Egypt.
“However,” the telegram stated, “we are most strenuously opposed to military assistance for Egypt which, when seen in the context of arms aid and sales supplied to a host of Arab countries by many nations, including America, will seriously impair that tenuous balance of power to which our government has always been pledged.”
WILL ENDANGER MIDEAST PEACE
Elmer L. Winter, president of the AJ Committee, urged Ford to cancel military sales to Egypt because they would “exacerbate and endanger the fragile prospects for peace” in the Middle East. In a telegram to the President. Winter called on him instead to “step up economic and diplomatic support for all nations in the area willing to cooperate with American peace efforts” and to “intensify American diplomatic explorations on the highest level with the Soviet Union and our Western allies to seek concerted measures to curb the wasteful and potentially destructive arms race in the Middle East.”
Congresswoman Abzug warned that the U.S. military sales to Egypt can only “escalate the arms race in the Middle East and jeopardize Israel.” Addressing the Joint Sisterhoods of 32 Westchester and Rockland (NY) synagogues at Temple Israel in White Plains. she declared: “We have to ask why Egypt needs more arms if it just signed an agreement not to attack Israel for four years. Certainly there is no threat from Israel toward Egypt.” She said that “a majority of members of Congress stand firm for support to Israel.”
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Ron Nessen said today that Max M. Fisher of Detroit was tentatively scheduled to meet with Ford this afternoon. Asked if it had anything to do with Administration plans to sell military equipment to Egypt, Nessen said he did not know. He said the meeting was private and that he assumed it would have something to do with raising funds for the President’s election campaign. He noted that Fisher was an “old friend” of the President.