WASHINGTON (Jan. 13)
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League disclosed today that two separate coalitions have organized parallel campaigns to block legislation introduced in Congress this week against the compliance of American companies in the Arab boycott of Israel. According to the ADL, one of the coalitions represents large and respectable firms within the American business establishment and the other is a potpourri of Arab-American organizations and extremists with records of anti-Semitism.
Arnold Forster, general counsel of the ADL, who headed the investigation which led to the disclosures, said at a press conference here that while there is no evidence of direct interaction between the two coalitions, they use the same arguments and have the mutual goal of preventing passage of effective U.S. legislation against Arab boycott operations in this country. The ADL report identifying the firms and groups that comprise the coalitions and describing their activities, was presented at the press conference attended by top officials of the agency.
AIMED AT WILLIAMS-PROXMIRE BILL
The immediate target of both groups is an amendment to the Export Administration Act introduced in the Senate Tuesday by Sens. Harrison Williams Jr. (D.NJ) and William Proxmire (D. Wisc.) which would make it illegal for American companies to participate in any manner in the Arab boycott of Israel. Burton M. Joseph, ADL national chairman, named the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) as the spearhead of the first coalition. ECAT represents 64 major banks and multi-national corporations. The coalition includes other important banks, oil companies and major construction firms, Joseph said.
He said the second coalition is headed by a group called Full Employment in America Through Trade (FEATT) which was created as a result of the Nov. 18, 1976 conference convened in Washington by the National Association of Arab-Americans. The conference was attended by more than 100 business representatives including at least ten oil company officials. According to Joseph, FEATT operates out of a Washington office and print shop run by Hassan Jeru-Ahmed, a self-proclaimed “general” whose record of anti-Semitism was exposed by the ADL in 1971 when he headed a dubious drug rehabilitation program funded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Joseph said the ADL did not know the source of FEATT’s income.
GIANT CORPORATIONS NAMED
In addition to Forster, Joseph was joined at the press conference by Benjamin R. Epstein, national director of the ADL and Maxwell E. Greenberg, chairman of its national executive committee. The ADL report pointed out that major oil companies, heavy equipment manufacturers and construction and engineering firms with large stakes in the multi-billion dollar Arab market stepped up their advertising and public relations campaigns last summer and early fall aimed at thwarting anti-boycott legislation. This occurred after the passage of Senate and House bills by substantial majorities. A strong lobbying effort began during the closing weeks of the 94th Congress in September when it appeared that passage of a compromise bill was imminent despite what the ADL described as “the stonewalling” of the Ford Administration.
The ADL cited as the “most visibly involved” firms Mobil, Exxon, Texaco, Continental Oil, Standard Oil of California, Caterpillar Tractor Co., Bechtel Corp., and American Cyanamid, in addition to the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. According to the ADL report, the NAM, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and ECAT have each assigned staff to drafting public and legislative positions for approval by the three organizations before the end of this month. The ADL said the proposals are being coordinated and the coalition is expected to go beyond its own constituencies to seek support from small and medium sized businesses, organized labor and employee groups. The campaigns now being mounted “will be the most extensive yet seen,” the ADL leaders said.