NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith called on President Ford today to urge Congress to adopt the renewal of the Export Administration Act, including its strong provisions against the Arab boycott. Seymour Graubard, ADL national chairman, said it is crucial that the President act now on the bill which is presently stalled in a Senate-House conference committee since the present act expires Thursday.
The ADL’s demand for Presidential action came at a press conference at its national headquarters at which the Jewish defense organization charged that a “triumvirate” of high Administration officials, American oil companies and Arab spokesmen are engaging in “a desperate and misleading propaganda campaign” to block the anti-boycott amendments to the Export Administration Act. The ADL said “one tactic is to stall legislative action entirely until after Congressional adjournment and the November election.”
Graubard pointed out that when Ford addressed the B’nai B’rith biennial convention in Washington last month, he stressed “our moral and legal opposition to the Arab boycott of Israel” and declared “I reiterate my determination to make further progress, if necessary by legislation, so that government officials at all levels and the American people will know that I mean business.”
QUESTIONS FORD’S POSITION
Arnold Forster, the ADL’s general counsel, told the press conference that the President apparently does not consider legislation necessary. He said while Ford and other Administration officials have voiced opposition to the boycott, eight top officials from the State, Commerce and Treasury Departments appeared before Congressional committees to oppose any anti-boycott legislation. He said they used the same arguments as did the American oil companies in their advertisements and the Arab countries and organizations.
Forster also said that high Administration officials accompanied Arab spokesmen to Capitol Hill to argue against the anti-boycott action. He mentioned in particular Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accompanying Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
“It is reasonable to assume that these high placed officials are not free agents,” Forster said, explaining that officials of three major federal departments could not make the same types of statements without top Administration approval. But he refused to say whether this approval came from Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Ford or anyone else.
Lawrence Peirez, chairman of the ADL’s civil rights committee, said the oil companies have charged that the bill has not received enough study yet they refused to testify before Congressional committees, preferring private conversations with key Congressmen and newspaper advertisements. Graubard said that during the last two years, five House and three Senate committees held a total of 27 hours of hearings on the boycott provisions.
Graubard said that the amendments to the Export Administration Act provide penalties against complying with the Arab boycott while the present act only states that it is the policy of the United States to oppose any type of boycott. “If they don’t pass this bill we won’t even have the existing bill that is on the books,” Peirez said.
ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS NAMED
The ADL named the following Administration officials as working against the legislation: in the State Department–Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Robert J. McCloskey and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Sidney Sober. in the Treasury Department–Secretary William E. Simon and Assistant Secretary Gerald L. Parsky. in the Commerce Department–Secretary Elliott Richardson; former Undersecretary James E. Baker III; Undersecretary John K. Tabor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Commerce Charles W. Hostler.
The oil firms named were Continental, Exxon, Mobil and Texaco. The Arab sources named were Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab League, the Arab Information Office and other Arab groups.
In a related development, the American Jewish Committee sent a telegram to Ford urging his support for the anti-boycott legislation. The telegram, signed by Elmer Winter, AJCommittee president, said it is “unthinkable that the United States should take no firm legislative action in the face of unacceptable challenges from the Arab governments to our national sovereignty.”