WASHINGTON (Oct. 18)
Gen. George S. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appearing at a press conference late today with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, declared that his “personal actions in support of Israel give proof to my full personal commitment to the security and survival of the State of Israel.” Brown made his statement in connection with remarks he made in an interview with Israeli cartoonist and writer Raanan Lurie that Israel was a military “burden” to the U.S. The Air Force General did not retract that remark but sought to put it in the context of the question asked in the course of the interview.
Brown said he was asked if from a “purely military point of view” Israel is more a “burden and less a blessing to the global strategy of the U.S.” He said he had replied that “It is correct that from that narrow point of view it had to be considered a burden, and I added that I could see in the long term where they (the Israelis) could be a tremendous asset and where they could bring stability to that part of the world.” Rumsfeld said he did not reprimand Brown, but “the absence of a reprimand should not be taken as an endorsement of inelegant phraseology.”
FORD, ANSWERING QUESTIONS BY JTA SAYS THAT AMERICA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL IS FIRM AND ENDURING
(Editor’s note: What follows are President Ford’s answers to the questions posed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to him and to Democratic Presidential nominee Jimmy Carter. Ford answered the questions in a complete statement, while Carter responded by answering each question separately. The questions and Carter’s answers appeared in Monday’s Daily News Bulletin.)
THE SINAI PACTS
I am pleased to respond to the request of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for my views on a number of important issues. With regard to the Middle East, our relationship with the State of Israel is firm and enduring. Relations between our two countries are at a peak.
The agreements reached between Israel and Egypt and Syria are in effect and working. Not a single Israeli or Egyptian soldier is dying in the Sinai or on the Golan. The forces of moderation throughout the region are being strengthened. It is important to note that the Sinai II agreement was the first Arab-Israeli agreement that was not just an armistice in the aftermath of a war.
BASIS FOR MIDEAST PEACE
As we continue our search for a lasting peace in the Middle East I can tell you there will be no imposed solutions and there will be no one-sided concessions. A just and lasting solution depends on the will of the parties themselves, although we stand ready to assist at their request as we have done successfully over the past three years. I am proud to stand on my consistent 28-year record of support for Israel.
In just a little over two years the funds I have proposed for assistance to Israel amount to over 40 percent of all the aid Israel has received from the United States since 1948. And Israel’s armed forces are today much stronger than they were in October 1973 thanks to U.S. weapons and Israeli determination and skill. We will continue to provide Israel with the political, economic and military support needed to ensure its security.
With regard to the PLO, I can say categorically that the position of the United States is firm and will not change.
THE ARAB BOYCOTT
The Arab boycott has been in existence since 1952, and I have opposed it since 1952. I am proud to be the first President to have taken strong comprehensive executive action to combat the boycott and put an end to discrimination. I respect the views of those who urge further action. Where we may differ, it is on means and not ends. Our moral and legal opposition to the boycott is clear to all. I will not tolerate the translation of foreign boycotts into domestic discrimination against American citizens.
During the years I was in Congress I worked to bring to America’s attention the plight of Soviet Jewry. I have raised the matter personally with Soviet leaders since becoming President. We must increase the flow of those emigrating. I assure you I will not let this matter rest. I will also work with the Congress to modify existing legislation in such a way as to increase the prospects for greater emigration.
I had the occasion recently (Oct. 12) to visit the Center for Holocaust Studies in New York. I received there a pin which said in Hebrew. Remember, I will remember. From the greatest tragedy of the Jewish people came the greatest achievement of the Jewish spirit–the rebirth of the State of Israel.
QUOTAS IN HIRING
Turning to the questions in the domestic arena which you also posed, I want to emphasize again my total opposition to arbitrary quotas in hiring practices or in education. I believe above all that merit should be rewarded and that opportunity should be open to all. In the name of justice for some, we must not do injustice to others.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND SCHOOLS
Preserving our neighborhoods is an important objective. We must preserve our religious traditions, the family, the home and the rich heritage of many cultures and neighborhoods throughout America.
I am totally dedicated to quality education for our children. I am equally dedicated to the elimination of discrimination in America. Whether busing helps school children get a better education is not a settled question. The record is mixed.
I have proposed legislation which would establish specific guidelines for federal courts considering busing as a remedy for segregation. Even where busing is necessary, I believe it should be a transitional remedy of only limited duration.
I believe that our non-public schools provide an important element of diversity and competition to our educational system. Within constitutional limits I believe we must seek ways within the tax system to ease the burden on families whose children attend non-public schools. Similarly, I support efforts to consider ways through the tax system of easing the burden on families whose children are attending college.
I appreciate this opportunity to share with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency my thoughts on these important matters.
A two-part series by Joseph Polakoff on Jewish Congressmen running for the Senate and House begins today on Page 3.