Mcgovern Announces Story Implying Financial Consideration Influences His Public Position on Israel

Sen. George McGovern (D. SD) has denounced a report in the Washington Post which, he said, implied that “my public position on the State of Israel is influenced by the fact that a piece of property I own has been rented to the Syrian Ambassador.”

The implication was contained in a story last week under the by-line of Eugene L. Meyer who noted that McGovern has been receiving rental income from Syrian Ambassador Sabaah Kabani since March, 1975 and “has come under increasing criticism from pro-Israel groups here for what they consider stands more sympathetic to the Arab cause and critical of Israeli policies.”

McGovern, who has asked the six-member non-partisan Senate Ethics Committee headed by Sen. Howard Cannon (D. Nev.) to determine whether he has done “anything unethical or improper,” was vigorously defended on the Senate floor last Wednesday by two staunchly pro-Israel Senators, Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.) and Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.). Ribicoff declared, “It is unthinkable to me that George McGovern would permit any financial consideration to determine his position on any issue affecting the welfare of this country or the peace of the world.” He said he rejected the Post’s story “completely.”

Humphrey, associating himself with Ribicoff’s remarks, said McGovern “has had the courage to speak with people of different persuasions in the Middle East” but “that does not in any way mean that he is the captive of any one group or that he has an allegiance or alliance with any group that would in any way violate his own sense of what is right for the national interest of the United States.”

“EXAMPLE OF YELLOW JOURNALISM”

McGovern, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near Eastern Affairs, called Meyer’s story in the Post “the crudest example of yellow journalism that I have witnessed in many years.” The story quoted Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, as saying that while MoGovern’s record on aid to Israel is “generally good,” he has “more often than others…indicated some less than total support for the current Israeli position.” The AJ Committee official was also quoted as saying that plentiful Arab money develops “a potentially general softness and attitude about your client.”

Bookbinder said that he was “distressed over Meyer’s reckless stringing together of unrelated comments to give the impression that I believe Sen. McGovern’s position on the Middle East may have been the result of the rental of his house.”

McGovern, who asked that the text of the Post story and Bookbinder’s remarks be inserted into the Congressional Record, explained that the property in question was rented by his attorneys. He told the Senate last Wednesday that while he does not agree “down to the last detail with every single position the Israeli government has taken, I think it would be catastrophic if Israel’s independence, freedom or survival was destroyed” and “I am determined to do all in my power to prevent that.”

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