WASHINGTON (Apr. 4)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger stressing the “qualities, responsibilities and hopes which tie America to Israel pledged today that ” the survival and security of Israel are unequivocal and permanent moral commitments of the United States.” The Secretary also urged Israel not to be suspicious of the U.S. as both countries strive for a Middle East peace.
“The risks and obstacles are many.” Kissinger told some 500 delegates to the biennial convention of the American Jewish Congress at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel. “Steps must be carefully thought out and realistic. But we must move together with courage and with a vision of how reality can be shaped by a vision of peace and we must not paralyze ourselves by a suspiciousness that deprives our relationship of dignity and our cooperation of significance.”
Kissinger pledged that “The United States will help keep Israel strong–to ensure that peace is seen clearly to be the only feasible course, we will never abandon Israel–either by falling to provide crucial assistance or by misconceived or separate negotiations or by irresolution when challenged to meet our-own responsibility to maintain the global balance of power.”
Kissinger’s address, which the State Department described as “not a major speech,” was his first before a Jewish organization since joining the Republican Administration in Jan. 1969. It came less than 48 hours before the primary elections in New York and Wisconsin and appears to be the forerunner of other addresses before Jewish groups this election year. He is also scheduled to speak to an audience expected to total 2000 at a Baltimore Conservative congregation on May 9, nine days before the Maryland primary.
In his prepared remarks at the luncheon concluding the four-day AJCongress meeting, Kissinger stressed that “Israel is a loyal friend and a fellow democracy, whose very existence represents the commitment of all free people. The moral strength of the people of Israel, which has so often meant the margin of victory in war, gives us confidence that Israel will also win peace; no people has earned it more.”
ROAD AHEAD IS DIFFICULT
Kissinger cautioned that the road ahead for Israel will be difficult and urged that the actions toward the peace process must be “realistic” and “we must move together.” Israel “obviously faces profound problems–not the least of which is that in any negotiation with her neighbors she will be asked to yield the physical buffers of territory in exchange for intangible pledges,” Kissinger said.
“Indeed, Israel’s gains will be intangible even as she achieves her own stated objectives of a formal peace treaty and diplomatic recognition by her neighbors. So the process of peace inevitably presents her with many anguishing decisions–and the pain is shared by all of us who are friends of Israel and who are dedicated to further progress towards peace. Throughout this process we owe Israel our compassion and support.”
Kissinger, who received a standing ovation when he entered the banquet hall, was presented with a scroll addressed to him as “scholar, historian and diplomat and U.S. Secretary of State,” which urged that “mercy and truth may meet together and righteousness and peace embrace.” It was presented by him by Dr. Henry Rosozsky, chairman of the AJCongress commission on international affairs. In addition, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, AJCongress president, presented Kissinger with a copy of the Jerusalem Bible.
Earlier, Roy Wilkens, executive director of the NAACP, was presented with the AJCongress civil rights award for his contributions to racial justice.
The convention adopted a resolution charging the Ford Administration with “breach of faith” for its “turnabout” on what it said was a promise to Israel in exchange for “vital concessions by Israel to Egypt and Syria.” The resolution called on Congress to appropriate the full funding of foreign aid as authorized for Israel, including “the transitional funding needed by Israel to cover the three-month period prior to the start of the new fiscal year.”
The AJCongress also voiced “grave concern” over the shift in U.S. policy in ending its arms embargo to Egypt but said that it supports “the allocation of funds for economic aid to Egypt” since “we recognize that the people of Egypt continue to suffer the pain of poverty and deprivation.” Criticizing the Administration’s policy on the Arab boycott, the AJCongress charged the Administration “with acquiescence in continued compliance with the boycott by American business.”