WASHINGTON (Jun. 7)
Rabbi Alexander Schindler expressed certainty today that the American Jewish community “will be absolutely united and determined to give the new Israeli government an opportunity to form itself, to develop its policies, and to present them to the Jewish community, the United States government and the world at large.”
Schindler spoke to reporters at the State Department after he had met for an hour with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Philip Habib and Assistant Secretary for Middle East Affairs, Alfred Atherton. Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was accompanied by the Conference’s executive secretary, Yehuda Hellman.
The purpose of this meeting, Schindler said, was to inform the State Department “exactly” what he had learned in Israel where he met during the past week with Premier Yitzhak Rabin and his prospective successor Menachem Begin and a number of other Likud leaders. Later today, Schindler was to meet at the White House with President Carter’s Counsel, Robert Lipshutz, and the head of the President’s Council on Domestic Affairs, Stuart Eizenstadt.
Schindler responded “absolutely” when he was asked in relation to this meeting whether there is “uneasiness” in the Jewish community over recent White House statements on the Middle East. He stressed that the community would be united “to see to it that in this period of interregnum, there won’t be any erosion from American” towards Israel. Speaking of the meeting with Habib and Atherton, Schindler pointed out that Begin is capable of making the transition between “candidacy and incumbency and between a leader of a party to being leader of a nation.” In this context, Schindler said that Begin is “a man of strong convictions–a man who can make decisions that are necessary to make.” He described Begin as “not only an ideologue but a pragmatist.”
In his several conversations with Begin, Schindler said, he found he reacted “very warmly towards him as a human being even though we are not of the same political orientation.” He emphasized Begin’s “profound love for the Jewish people” and “his almost mystical belief” in them. Pointing to his “marks of a statesman,” Schindler noted that on his visits to the United States, Begin never attacked the government in power in Israel but defended Israel as a nation. He reported Premier Yitzhak Rabin as a nation. He reported Premier Yitzhak Rabin as saying that when no solution was evident for the seizure of hostages by Arab terrorists in Entebbe, Begin wanted to negotiate with the terrorists. Rabin himself, Schindler said, spoke of Begin “in the highest terms” as a statesman and leader.
NO MESSAGES FROM BEGIN
Schindler said he did not bring any message to the U.S. government from Begin because “he does not need me for that” and Begin has his own channels. Speaking as an individual rather than as the Conference chairman in response to questions on the feeling within the American Jewish community, Schindler said “There is a great deal of apprehension” over the “crystallization” of U.S. policies towards the Middle East. He pointed out that the U.S. was committed to full and free negotiations among the parties, no kind of U.S. plan and that the U.S. role as an honest broker is to further negotiations. “Then we began to perceive in some utterances a crystallization” of peace for Israel by a U.S. definition and total withdrawal by the Israelis from occupied territories. Recalling National Security Affairs advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s view of “a conceptual framework” to stimulate the process of negotiations, Schindler said the President lifted the framework into U.S. policy based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. “Infinitely more disturbing,” he added, was that somebody at the White House “drummed up other resolutions.” In view of this, he said, “it would not be surprising if there were not some widespread grassroots reaction to what is being perceived and felt.”