WASHINGTON (Jul. 5)
Israel’s successful rescue operation in Uganda elicited messages of congratulations from President Ford and other Administration officials and from the leaders of American Jewish organizations. Ford said, in a letter to Premier Yitzhak Rabin, made public by the White House last night, that “The American people join me in expressing our great satisfaction that the passengers of the Air France flight seized earlier this week have been saved and a senseless act of terrorism thwarted.”
Avi Pazner, press attache at the Israeli Embassy here reported that the Embassy was flooded with telegrams and telephone calls of congratulation all day Sunday. Israeli diplomatic sources noted, however, that Ford’s message was “unprecedented” because “no American President has ever congratulated us on a military action before, not even after the Six-Day War.”
Jerold C. Hoffberger, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds. cabled Rabin his warmest congratulations on the rescue operation. “It is the essential demonstration to the world of courage and principle. For Americans it is especially timely on the birthday of this nation’s commitment to freedom and independence,” Hoffberger stated.
Bertram H. Gold, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee praised the rescue as promoting an eventual peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict. “We hope that this all proves also again the bankruptcy of international terrorism and that we can now proceed to the orderly and peaceful settlement of the problems of the Middle East.” Gold said.
HEROIC RESCUE APPLAUDED
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League said in a cable to Rabin: “We celebrate the heroic rescues of innocent victims of the Palestine hijackers and we congratulate you on returning them to safety. Your refusal to capitulate gives the only answer to terrorism.”
Chicago’s Jewish leadership also sent a message of congratulations to Rabin. It read: “The entire Jewish community joins us in congratulating the people and the State of Israel on the bravery and skill of the Israel Defense Forces in rescuing the hostages. We extend deepest sympathy to the families of those who gave their lives to make possible this fantastic achievement.” The cable was signed by Marvin N. Stone, president of the Jewish Federation and Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago; Harry Fox, general chairman of the JUF-Israel Emergency Fund Campaign; and James P. Rice, executive vice president of the JUF-Federation.
Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, sent cables of congratulations to Rabin and other Israeli leaders. Noting that American were celebrating the 200th anniversary of their independence, when the rescue was carried out, he stated that “Freedom-loving people are electrified with hope by the magnificent prowess of Israel’s defense forces….By your valorous accomplishment you have shown the world how to combat international banditry.”
State Department sources meanwhile confirmed Rabin’s statement to the Knesset yesterday that Israel had mounted the rescue operation entirely on its own responsibility without consulting any other governments beforehand. The U.S., according to a State Department official, first learned of Israel’s action when Ambassador Simcha Dinitz phoned Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in New York where the American official was over the weekend to participate in the Bicentennial celebration and for private reasons. At that time the Israeli planes were already on their way to Uganda.