WASHINGTON (Feb. 10)
President Carter has strongly endorsed federal legislation to combat Arab boycott methods that discriminate against American companies doing business with Israel or those owned by Jews or which have Jews in management positions. Carter, who had stated in his election campaign that he opposed boycotts directed against American citizens, elaborated on his views yesterday during a tour of the Department of Commerce.
The President stressed the need for federal legislation in the interests of uniformity. He pointed out that while New York has a “strong” anti-boycott law, New Jersey has “a weak one” so “when the Arab countries want to come and trade, they just bypass New York, come into New Jersey and can discriminate against Jewish citizens accordingly.”
Carter made clear the distinction between a primary boycott and secondary and tertiary boycotts. According to the official White House transcript of his remarks, he said that “primary boycott is perfectly acceptable in international affairs.”
He noted that the U.S. has a primary boycott against Cuba and “it is perfectly alright for the Arab countries to say we are not going to trade with Israel. But it does create a problem that I hope to eliminate (which) is for the Arab countries to say to us ‘you cannot trade with Israel and also trade with us’ or ‘you cannot trade with us, the Arab countries, if you have Jews on your board of directors,’ ” Carter said.
PRAISES ANTI-BOYCOTT EFFORTS
He declared that “This, in my opinion, violates the Constitutional rights of Jewish citizens. It also is completely obnoxious to me in a society like our own” built on principles of non-discrimination in race, religion or sex.
The President noted that “We now have several bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate” and “we have a cohesive group of businessmen and labor leaders, many of whom happen to be Jewish, who are working on the principles that ought to be included in an anti-boycott law.”
He was apparently referring to The Business Roundtable, an organization composed of chief executives of 170 major American corporations headed by Irving S. Shapiro who is chairman of the board of the DuPont Co. The organization met recently with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith for the purpose of exchanging views on efforts to reach a mutual accommodation with respect to Arab boycott issues.
The President said “I will support those (groups). I think it is time for us to root out the concept of the secondary and tertiary boycott. never permit a foreign nation to discriminate against any of our citizens who happen to be Jewish with legal permission from our own government. And we also need to have, as a last thing, uniformity among the different states of the nation in dealing with the anti-boycott legislation.”