Jerusalem (Jul. 26)
Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said here today that the Conference is scheduled to meet Wednesday in New York to hear his report of his current visit to Israel. Squadron, who is due to return to New York tomorrow, met twice with Premier Menachem Begin over the weekend to discuss relations between Israel and the United States and between Israel and American Jewry. He also met with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Squadron, who was accompanied at his meetings by Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Presidents Conference, flew to Israel Thursday night at Begin’s invitation after the Conference met in New York where it adopted a unanimous statement which urged President Reagan to immediately resume delivery of F-16 fighter planes to Israel.
Speaking to reporters, Squadron said Israel’s bombing of Beirut July 17 would not permanently damage relations between Israel and the Reagan Administration, nor would it affect Israel’s relations with the American Jewish community. However, he added, this might have long-term repercussions on Israel’s relations with Congress.
He suggested that pro-Israel forces in Washington would have to work hard with Congressmen and Senators for many months to come to explain the plight of Israel’s border settlements in the north during the past two weeks to give the proper background for the Israeli military actions in Lebanon. At the same time, he suggested, Israel should stress its regret over civilian losses in Beirut.
“Drastic military actions cannot be made without taking into account the political implications, especially in the U.S.” Squadron said. However, he added, if one has to take such measures, one should prepare the proper political background overseas so that Israel’s friends can cope with the situation.
Squadron noted that world public opinion maintains double standards in regards to Israel. Whereas American television showed very poignantly the suffering of the civilians in Beirut — such as the picture of the father holding his dead daughter — the suffering of the Israelis was not shown in the same way. He said that the world expects Israel not to do things it has grown accustomed to see others do.