NEW YORK (Aug. 2)
Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis told several members of Vice President Walter Mondale’s mission to Israel when they were there on the July 4 weekend that “Menachem Begin is the best chance for peace in the Middle East,” it was reported by a member of the group, Howard Samuels, former member of President Lyndon Johnson’s Cabinet and a prominent American Jew. He disclosed this on nationally syndicated columnist Victor Riesel’s WEVD Radio program last weekend. The comment by Lewis was reported by Samuels during a discussion with Riesel of the controversy in Israel over Begin’s ability to govern.
Samuels, a businessman and a former acting Secretary of Commerce in the Johnson Administration, also told Riesel that there are “good reasons” for the element of deep suspicion that exists in the American Jewish community regarding the Carter Administration’s Middle East intentions. Neverthless, he said he was confident that Carter “will not sell Israel down the river” and that the Administration has no plan to dump Begin, an allusion to reports earlier this year that some Administration forces preferred to see the Begin government toppled.
Comparing a visit he made to Israel in 1968 with the one last month, Samuels said he now found a lack of economic growth, a 30-40 percent inflation with 40 percent of the Gross National Product going to defense. He also noted that the lack of real managerial techniques is hampering Israel’s economy.