Menu JTA Search

Jewish Leaders Blast Agnew

American Jewish leaders reacted sharply today to former Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s attack on “Zionist influences in the U.S.” and the American media and his charges of “Israeli imperialism” and “aggression.” Agnew made his allegations during an interview on the nationally televised NBC “Today” show yesterday.

Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the American Section of the World Zionist Organization, noted that “a good deal of” Agnew’s business activities since his resignation from the Vice-Presidency in 1973 has been “on behalf of those same Saudi Arabians he claimed ‘have been our very staunch friends over a period of 60 years.'”

Mrs. Jacobson observed that “In view of Mr. Agnew’s special relationship with Saudi Arabian interests, one can readily understand his comments on the lack of an ‘even-handed’ U.S. policy in the area, and even his echoing of Arab claims of Israel ‘imperialism taking place in the world’ whatever that means, and of Zionist ‘influences’ on the media.”

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said: “Spiro Agnew has disgraced himself once again with his despicable statement, so redolent of the venom and slander we have come to expect from the anti-Semitic lunatic fringe….But if most Americans will disregard Mr. Agnew’s statement, considering its content and its source, there is new encouragement and hope for those hate mongers for whom ‘Zionist’ is a code word for ‘Jew’ and who must today be dancing with delight over the latest and most notorious recruit to their ranks.”

SHOCKING AND DEPLORABLE STATEMENTS

Benjamin R. Epstein, national director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League characterized Agnew’s remarks as “irresponsible anti-Semitic statements maligning American Jews and the American press” which “are shocking and deplorable and further discredit him.” Epstein charged that Agnew was “parroting the Arab propaganda line” and observed that “this comes as no surprise in light of his activities in behalf of Arab petrodollar countries seeking to invest in the United States.”

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg president of the American Jewish Congress declared that “Mr. Agnew’s statements on the Middle East are as accurate and as honest as his public record led the American people to expect. One wonders how much of his opinion derives from his reported lucrative association with Arab business interests.”

Dr. Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said “It is a sad case of a discredited man who wishes to get even with the media who he feels harms him. He is so debased he is willing to stoop to anti-Semitic lies to achieve this.” Herman Rosenbaum, president of the National Council of Young Israel, said Agnew’s remarks were “a shameless display of the kind of ignorance which must always be viewed with concern. His statements indicated a severe misunderstanding of the nature of the American press and public opinion as well as of the Zionist cause.”

NEXT STORY