NEW ORLEANS, La. (Aug. 20)
The crucial battle for Israel’s security may well be fought on the banks of the ### rather than on the banks of the Jordan, warned Morris Amitay, chief American lobbyist for Israel, in his keynote address here to the 85th annual national convention of the Jewish War Veterans, which is being attended by 1000 delegates.
Amitay said: “The issue is not whether American Jews have the right to differ with Israeli government policy on settlements for instance, but whether they don’t have more important things to do.”
Whatever the merits may be of a particular policy of the Israeli government at a given time, “divisions in the American Jewish community are invariably seized upon by Israel’s detractors and critics as a justification for their own anti-Israel actions and statements,” Amitay said. “Critics of Israel bolster their support for an independent Palestinian state, or for the removal of Israel’s settlements, by pointing to their Jewish friends, who they say, agree with them.”
There is much that Jews can do uniquely as American citizens, he note. “We can encourage the Congress to pass foreign aid legislation that is critical in bolstering Israel’s faltering economy; we should be making the case for limiting the flow of sophisticated U.S. arms to Israel’s hostile neighbors; we should be rebutting sophisticated Arab propaganda in the United States in an organized, coherent way; we should become more involved in supporting staunch Congressional friends of Israel who are facing election battles.”
SAYS ISRAEL IS IN A GRACE PERIOD OF SORTS
Israel, Amitay said, “is now in a grace period of sorts — provided by the upcoming Presidential election. The concentration of Jewish votes in the crucial industrial states needed for election has produced an easing of official pressure on Israel.”
Amitay added: “This is surely a time for more rather than less political involvement. What remains to be seen is whether at this crucial juncture the American Jewish community will be able to enlarge its influence and be able to convince the public, the media, the Congress and ultimately the policymakers that a strong, secure Israel, closely allied to the United States, is in the best interests of the United States.
“The advantage that its Arab enemies with their billions of petro-dollars and ‘hired guns’ in Washington will never have is six million American Jews concerned for Israel’s well-being and very much in the mainstream of American life.”
Other speakers at the convention will be former Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin; Max Cleland, chief administrator of the Velerons Administration; Robert Lipshutz, personal attorney to the President; Joseph Churba, director of the Center for International Security; Aaron Rosenbaum, national coordinator for the Jewish community for the National Unity Campaign; and representatives, respectively, for President Carter, Ronald Reagan and John-Anderson.