Weizman Draws Fire in Washington

Former Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, campaigning in the U.S. for President Carter’s reelection, has drawn angry comments here. A White House spokesman, however, indicated pleasure at Weizman’s appearance yesterday on Carter’s plane while he was campaigning in Ohio.

Weizman, now a member of the Knesset visiting the U.S. as a private citizen, has made no contact with the Israel Embassy here. An Embassy spokesman said Israel’s position is that Weizman is acting in a personal capacity, that he does not represent Israel in any way and that the Israel government’s policy is not to become involved even by implication in this and other elections.

NOT WITHOUT PRECEDENT

At the White House, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told by a spokesman: “We are quite pleased to have him of course. His action speaks for itself. It is a personal thing for himself. Obviously, he feels the President is a great friend of Israel and wants to repay him for what he did for Israel by speaking for him. This is the first time an Israeli of his stature has done this but it is not without precedent. Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister. Robert Mugabe, made an outright endorsement of the President on his visit here.”

The general media here barely noticed Weizman’s presence on the President’s campaign plane. The only report was contained in a Washington Post story which noted that the President, campaigning in West Virginia and Ohio, was accompanied by “an unusual ally in a Presidential election” — Weizman. The New York Times referred to Weizman as “a surprise guest among the local politicians accompanying Mr. Carter aboard Air Force One.”

While some Jewish activists supporting the President’s reelection recalled the criticism of Yitzhak Rabin who openly supported the reelection of President Nixon in 1972 when Rabin was Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. none had good words for Weizman. The closest note of toleration for Weizman’s action came from a source close to the White House.

“I don’t like it at all,” the source said. “But it is not an unreasonable thing for Weizman who is so active to express his view. It is crude and physically damaging to Carter for his (Weizman) thing on the campaign trail. I feel ambivalent about him because the Administration is being savaged on its record on Israel and I can see how he wants to say the Administration has been good for Israel.”

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