WASHINGTON (Sep. 27)
World Jewry and Israel entered the year 5739 with the exhilaration of the Camp David accords. They paused in mid-year to celebrate the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that enabled Israel for the first time to be at peace with an Arab neighbor. But as 5740 begins, the storm clouds blown by the vast and intensive pro-Arab diplomatic and propaganda offensives have returned dark as ever with deep uncertainty over what may come from them in the new year.
Among the questions are: Will the European nations extend their blankets of legitimacy on the Palestine Liberation Organization as first Austria in July and then Spain this month have done with their leading political personalities welcoming PLO chief Yasir Arafat as a “statesman?”
Will the United Nations General Assembly or the Security Council or both adopt measures demanding Israel meet the PLO on equal terms without preconditions, and will Washington, despite its strains with Jerusalem, remain steadfast to the commitments made by Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter not to deal with the terrorists until they do meet the stipulated conditions?
Will the pro-PLO propaganda, supplementing the diplomatic offensive, create greater shifting of Americans– and the Carter Administration–from pro-Israel positions to indifference or neutrality or even into the pro-PLO camp despite the PLO record vowing Israel’s destruction?
Will the U.S. Congress continue to vote funds adequate to maintain Israel’s military and economic strength to defend herself against the continuing danger of onslaught from Arab governments although Egypt has pledged never to go to war against Israel again?
And what about Soviet, Syrian and Iranian Jewry? Soviet emigration has been the highest on record in the past year–close to 50,000. But meanwhile, manifestations of anti-Semitism in the various Soviet propaganda forums have become more virulent than any time since the Stalin period. On Jewry abroad, the U.S. has been strongly supportive, but whether the five-year-old Jack-son-Vanik amendment tying U.S. credits to Soviet policy will be allowed to stand unscathed is another uncertainty.
The prescription for the new year’s dangers as in other crises faced by Israel and Jewry is unchanged Simply put by a Washington counsellor it is– organize, remain steadfast, respond to attacks with the facts don’t permit divisions to weaken the solidarity of the Jewish communities with Israel. “Our enemies want to divide and isolate us, “he said, “By standing together, this will not happen.”
SOME IMMEDIATE PROBLEMS
Weakening of support for Israel in Europe is among the immediate problems. West Germany is the focal point. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s recent visit to Bonn apparently did not bring about any mitigation of West Germany’s “even-handed” position, a departure from the historically based special relationship Germany had with Israel.
Israelis are increasingly suspicious of Bonn’s motives in the Middle East following Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher’s trips to the Arab countries and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s conclusions in favor of good relations with the Arabs, including Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Genscher shared the European Economic Community’s criticism of Israel’s policy on settlements and now “German visitors seem” to be “almost falling over one another in their haste to call on PLO leader Yasir Arafat, ” it was recently reported by the German Tribune, the official review of Germany’s media.
The suspicion has been openly stated here that the U.S. encouraged, or at least did not discourage, the reception for Arafat in Vienna in July by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and Socialist International leader Willy Branot. Some said that Brandt never would have taken part had he not had Schmidt’s support and Schmidt would not have done it without President Carter’s acquiescence in some way.
At the UN. the PLO is now said to be considering a “pincers” strategy with its blackmailed “friends” supporting the terrorists in the Security Council and the General Assembly for resolutions designed to put the PLO into the peace process with out preconditions. Since the attempt to develop a U.S. PLO dialogue failed in August by the stand of Egypt and Israel against the U.S. proposed resolution to modify Security Council Resolution 242, the debate was left without a decision.
The Soviet-Arab bloc thus can renew its work there to force the U.S. into accepting change of its commitment to Israel on dealing with the PLO. If that again should fail in the Council, the bloc can move into the General Assembly for a two-thirds vote that has much of the force of a Security Council action to nudge the U.S. into acceptance.
CONGRESS FACED WITH DILEMMA
Meanwhile, Congress is faced with a dilemma–torn by traditional sympathy for Israel and faced with domestic economic problems. In these circumstances, Congress may go along with the Administration’s reported plan of not increasing aid to Israel in the new fiscal year. Israel’s outlined requirements in dollar aid have increased from $1. 785 billion to $3.45 billion, because of inflation and rising costs of oil and weapons.
How Egypt, which is looking for an additional $5 – $10 billion over the next three years, will fare also is uncertain but the Administration is eager to please President Anwar Sadat. The possibility exists that to compensate Israel, the U.S. may grant some co-production opportunities for Israel to manufacture the F 18 warplane. This would help her aircraft and electronic industries and reduce arms costs.
On the propaganda front, Israel and world Jewry face long battles. The attacks ignore Israel’s democracy and her strategic value to the U.S. To lower Israel’s prestige among Americans, the attacks craftily center on “intransigence” because: Israel won’t deal with the PLO built settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip even though their legality is stronger on Israel’s side than Washington’s and used American weapons in subduing PLO terrorists in south Lebanon although the strikes at the terrorists are in defense against infiltration.
Media reports and commentaries are heavily laden with emphasis on casualties and destruction in Lebanon without remembering the bombs placed in Israel that force the Israeli operations in Lebanon.
Thus, the new year is fraught with diplomatic, economic and military difficulties. The results may well depend on the logic and realism of Americans and Europeans–and perhaps the Chinese–that catering to the PLO only strengthens the Soviet Union in the Middle East and threatens the interests of those very oil-producing countries by the PLO’s continuing blackmail of terror and sabotage of their petroleum output.