LONDON (May. 25)
A copy of the official Saudi Arabian anti-Israel boycott list was produced in public today after claims that the British government did not have an authoritative list. The 1000-page volume was shown Tuesday by Will Maslow, general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, to the House of Lards Select Committee studying anti-boycott draft legislation modeled on new American laws.
Maslow said that the volume, which included 1150 British firms and subsidiaries and 1500 American names, had been sent to him by the Chamber of Commerce at Jidda, Saudi Arabia, to which he paid $25 by check. Maslow told the committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Redcliffe-Maud, that examination of the list revealed the “essential anti-Jewish core” of the Arab boycott.
Many of the blacklisted British companies have Jewish directors. Among them are Great Universal Stores (headed by Sir Isaac Wolfsan), Marks and Spencer (headed by the Sieff, Marks and Sacher families), Lex Service Group (controlled by the Chinn family), and Sears Holding (chairman is Sir Charles Clore).
Expressing strong support for the foreign boycotts bill, drafted by Lord Byers, a Liberal, Maslow cited figures to show that the American legislation has not prevented an impressive expansion of U.S. exports to the Arab world between 1975-1977. In that period, exports were worth $5.3 billion in 1975; $7 billion in 1976; and $8.1 billion in 1977. This was in addition to more than $20 billion worth of construction work being carried out in Arab lands, mostly under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
TRADE NOT HAMPERED BY ANTI-BOYCOTT LAWS
The hollowness of boycott threats was also reflected in Arab states’ purchase of aircraft built by MacDonnel-Douglas, which also supplied Israel and equipment from General Electric, which provided the engines installed in Israeli jets. Nor was the boycott applied to the Chase Manhattan Bank, which was the fiscal agent for Israel Bonds in the U.S., Maslow noted. “You cannot find a bigger breach of the boycott regulations than that,” he said.
Further growth in American trade with the Arab world, despite the anti-boycott laws, was suggested by the current visit of 100 private and public sector Arab business executives to five American cities to discuss trade expansion. The meetings are sponsored by the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Maslow said.
‘DEPLORABLE ACTIONS’ BY BRITISH FIRMS
Referring to some “deplorable actions” by British companies in dealing with American concerns, Maslow recalled the receipt last August by Brown and Root, Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. of Houston, Texas, of an invitation to bid for a project in Abu Dhabi from BP Trading (a subdivision of the government-controlled British Petroleum.)
Even though the American anti-boycott laws had not yet been passed, Brown and Root refused to comply with a request, in the draft contract from BP Trading, to declare that it was not in breach of the Arab boycott. Instead, it filed the BP document with the U.S. Commerce Department. Subsequently, Maslow disclosed, BP assured Jewish circles in Britain that the company would not engage in similar practices again.
Maslow’s support for Lord Byer’s bill was reiterated by Alan Rose, executive vice-president, Canadian Jewish Congress, who had been invited to give evidence on behalf of that organization. He expressed anxiety that, in the absence of stronger measures in Canada, U.S. companies might yield to Arab pressures through their local subsidiaries in a way which is now illegal in the United States.
However, strong opposition to anti-boycott legislation in Britain was expressed by leaders of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. Tom Boardman, president of the Association, said that any bill would damage British trade. He also apposed action within the European Economic Community.