Solon Predicts New Congress Will Pass Strong Anti-boycott Legislation

Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (D-L NY) predicted yesterday that the new Congress convening in January will promptly pass strong legislation to outlaw compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel and American business.

Addressing 300 leaders of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith attending the agency’s 63rd annual meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Rosenthal said “The deep national concerns which earlier this year led the House and the Senate overwhelmingly to pass strong anti-boycott legislation are even stronger as a new Congress and President prepare to take office.”

He warned, however, that the American public “does not yet understand fully the implications of boycott compliance, and the Arabs and their allies in the U.S. business community will continue doing all in their power to perpetuate this situation.”

BANKS’ BOYCOTT ENFORCEMENT CRACKED

In a report at the same session, Arnold Forster, the ADL’s general counsel and associate director, said that the American banking industry’s “recalcitrance” in ending its role as “major enforcer” of Arab boycott regulations has been cracked by the recent actions of several major banks.

He cited announcements by one of the world’s largest banks, Bank of America, and by United Bank of California, Provident National Bank and Continental Bank of Philadelphia, and Sterling National Bank of New York that they will not, or will no longer, handle boycott-tainted letters of credit.

Forster said that a new ADL banking survey, currently being completed, has at the top of the list of banks which continue to honor such letters of credit. Chase Manhattan, Citibank, Chemical and Irving Trust. The rest will be revealed, he added, upon completion of the survey.

CLEAR LEGISLATION IMPERATIVE

Rosenthal, who is chairman of the House Commerce Consumer and Monetary Subcommittee said that the Commerce Department’s identification of boycott participants and the Treasury Department’s guidelines for imposing tax penalties against certain participants have “confused and distressed the American public and business community, and have done little to meet their legitimate concerns.”

These concerns, he declared, “can be met only by strong and clear legislation to eliminate all anti-competitive and discriminatory Arab pressures against American businesses.” He described the Treasury Department’s proposed guidelines implementing the Ribicoff Amendment to the Tax Reform Act of 1976 (which denies certain tax benefits to companies complying with the boycott) as so limited as to be “virtually useless.”

He explained that the guidelines would discourage only formal agreements to avoid trading with Israel or blacklisted U.S. firms, thus having the effect of condoning informal or unilateral actions to refrain from doing business with Arab boycott targets. Moreover, he declared, no penalties would be impose upon companies which furnish information needed by the Arabs to perpetrate the boycott.

ADL AWARD TO BELLOW

The ADL presented its America’s Democratic Legacy Award to Saul Bellow, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature. In presenting the award. Seymour Graubard, honorary national chairman of the ADL. said that Bellow “has correctly rejected all efforts to pigeonhole him as a ‘Jewish writer.’ Rather, he has simply found in the Jewish experience those common strains of humanity that are part of all of us–and there in lies his greatness as an American writer.”

Rosenthal and Rep. Jonathan B. Bingham (D NY) were awarded Distinguished Public Service Awards by the ADL for their “legislative leadership…and determined efforts to safeguard all segments of the American community against the discriminatory, social and economic dictates of foreign powers.”

At an earlier session, S.O. Shapiro, a member of the ADL’s national commission and co-chairman of its communications committee, was presented with the Lee Schooler Memorial Award for “creatively and effectively communicating the values of intergroup relations.” Schooler, until his death last year, was chairman of the Public Relations Board, one of the nation’s largest public relations counseling firms, and a long-time ADL leader.

JOSEPH IS NOW ADL CHAIRMAN

Burton M. Joseph of Minneapolis, was elected national chairman of the ADL, succeeding Graubard, who completed his six-year term of office. He will be installed Wednesday at a dinner in Jerusalem at which Premier Yitzhak Rabin will be the principal speaker. Joseph is president of the I.S. Joseph Company, one of the country’s largest exporters of agricultural by-products.

Affiliated with the ADL for more than 20 years, he has served on its national commission for 13 years and has been national treasurer for the past four years. He is also vice-chairman of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a member of the Secretary of Agriculture Advisory Committee of the Department of Agriculture. The 300 ADL leaders who attended the three day policy making session here are going to Israel tomorrow for week-long meetings.

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