WASHINGTON (May. 10)
Three senators and various Administration officials today forcefully denounced a speech by Sen. Lowell Weicker (D.Conn.) in which he accused the Carter Administration of following “a policy of confrontation with Israel” and “appeasement” of the Arabs and alleged that the President’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski was urging that the U.S. “disengage from its historic alliance with Israel.”
Weicker drew the heaviest fire for his implied charge that Brzezinski, who is chairman of the National Security Council, was acting out of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic motivations. The White House, in a telephone call to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, quoted Brzezinski as having said that “the U.S. commitment to Israel is unshakeable. It is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our own society….They are deeply binding moral ties….”
Weicker attacked the Administration’s Middle East policy in a speech Monday night to the 19th annual policy conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which was interrupted 26 times by applause from the 1000 pro-Israel delegates.
He implied that the Administration was trying to make Jews the scapegoats for its foreign policy difficulties and noted that “time and time again” in history “when national leaders run into difficulties they found it convenient to blame their problems an the Jews and we know the results.” A spokesperson for Weicker said today that the Senator stood by his speech.
TERMS STATEMENT ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE
But Weicker’s Democratic colleague from Connecticut, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, said today: “I think it is an absolute outrage for anyone, Jew or non-Jew alike, to infer that there is anything in President Carter or Secretary of State Vance or Vice President Mondale that is antipathetic to the State of Israel or to people who are Jewish.”
Ribicoff said he had not read Weicker’s speech but noted that he has talked regularly with Carter, Vance and Mondale for the last 17 months and “these three men have been continuously concerned with the survival, strength and independence of the State of Israel.”
Ribicoff said that while he did not know Brzezinski as well as he knew the others, “I think Brzezinski is a dedicated man who is working for the President of the United States….I think it is outrageous to infer that a person is anti-Semitic when there is absolutely no proof to that. I think it is a very dangerous policy for any individual to throw around and try to besmirch anyone with the epithet that he is anti-Semitic.”
Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY), himself a frequent critic of the Administration’s Middle East policies, said the Administration was “tilting too for in favor of the Arabs” but “I cannot subscribe to the notion that there is some animus against Israel in this situation. I don’t think it is in the hearts or minds of the American people either.”
Sen. Charles Percy (R.III.) said, “I have seen no evidence whatsoever to sustain the allegation made by Weicker.” Jerold Schecter, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Weicker’s charges were “false, inflammatory statements.” He said Brzezinski “has repeatedly mode it clear that the U.S. commitment to Israel is unshakeable because it is derived from the strongest moral imperatives.”
The State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, asked today to comment on Weicker’s speech, said, “I think what he said was reprehensible, a gross misstatement of fact, demagoguery.” He said he thought Weicker has been “answered adequately by Javits, Ribicoff, Moynihan and Lipshutz.” He was referring to White House Counsel Robert Lipshutz and Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D.NY) who were at the AIPAC conference and spoke up immediately after Weicker’s remarks.
Weicker’s press secretary, Rebecca Lett, said today that “those people who have read the entire speech, by and large, have had a different impression of what he was saying than those who have read only news accounts of it.”