NEW YORK (Jun. 1)
Former Israeli Premier Golda Meir told American Jewish leaders today that she was not worried about Israel’s problems with the Arab states or the United States, but was concerned about reports reaching Israel that American Jews were divided over Israel’s politics and of the possibility of a split in the ranks of Jewish unity.
Speaking at a packed meeting of the Conference Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mrs. Meir said the intimate relations between American Jewry and Israel called for free and frank discussions. But, she said, this was different from publicly voiced attacks against Israeli policies, Mrs. Meir asked Israel’s critics to demonstrate any lack of sincere desire and effort by Israel to seek peace. Asked about Israeli politicians who come to the United States and criticize policies of the Israeli government, Mrs. Meir replied that Israel could not follow the Soviet tactic of refusing exit visas to Jews.
In reply to a statement by a Presidents Conference member that Israel appears to have no foreign policy and that the feud between Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres has caused confusion among American Jews, Mrs. Meir said “I don’t say it (the feud) is good but it has nothing to do with our policy.” She said the government’s policy is clear and distinct–that Israel will not relinquish its religious and historical ties to the West Bank, but it is prepared to make territorial concessions in return for peace. She stressed that before such an agreement could be signed, a new election would have to be held. But, she said, she believed that the majority of the Israeli people will go along with such a policy. She stressed that while there are differences of opinion, on the major issues the government is united.
AGAINST FORCIBLE REMOVAL OF GUSH SQUATTERS
When one questioner noted that the major American news media are unsympathetic to Israel’s policies and that Israel’s public relations need improving, Mrs. Meir declared that the news media will not decide the fate of the Jewish people or State. She said that American Jews had nothing to be defensive or apologetic about in terms of Israel’s policies. She also declared that Israel does not make announcements and declarations that are designed for public relations purposes. “Our announcements must be factual and truthful because we must be believed,” she said.
When it was suggested that there should be more dialogues and free exchanges such as today’s 90-minute discussion, Mrs. Meir said she could guarantee that anytime the Presidents Conference wanted an exchange of ideas with the Israeli government, the government would be happy to send an authorized representative. But she said Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador in Washington, was qualified to conduct such an exchange.
Mrs. Meir said the settlement by Gush Emunim members at Kadum in Samaria had become a national scandal because the settlers had taken the law in their own hands. But she was against removing them by force. She said that personally she was prepared to wait.