White Plains, N.Y. (Oct. 7)
Sen. Carl Levin (D. Mich.) warned here that American Jews must not be intimidated by “innuendos” that they are disloyal or “un-American” because they oppose the Reagan Administration’s proposed sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other advanced military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
Levin, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a leading opponent of the $8.5 billion arms package for the Saudis, addressed several hundred leaders of the UJA-Federation Women’s Campaign attending their 1982 overnight Leadership Conference here this week. The Women’s Campaign, the largest local Jewish women’s fundraising drive in the world, expects to raise nearly $15 million by the end of 1981.
Levin, who spoke on U.S.-Israel relations, said the AWACS “are at best of marginal value to American interests” and their sale to the Saudis could destabilize the Middle East and “make their country a target for terrorists.” Therefore, he said the American Jewish community “should fight openly any attempts on the part of our opponents to raise innuendos of dual loyalty.”
TERMS NIXON’S REMARKS ‘DISGUSTING’
He singled out as “disgusting” remarks by former President Nixon last Saturday implying that opponents of the AWACS deal pursue “the interests of a foreign power.” In that connection, Nixon mentioned Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and “parts of the American Jewish community.”
Levin recalled that when it was proposed to sell AWACS to the Shah of Iran “there was tremendous opposition” but “nobody was accused of being disloyal to America.” He noted that no such accusations are leveled against Irish-Americans who support the hunger strikers in Northern Ireland or Mexican-Americans or other Spanish-speaking representatives who deplore the conditions of migrant workers coming to this country.
“There is no reason why we Jews should accept or tolerate such innuendos,” Levin said.
The more than 200 women attending the conference were there to “plan a course of action that will enable us, in 1982, to bring the greatest help possible to needy and endangered Jews,” according to conference chairman Klara Silverstein of White Plains.
The two-day session dealt with Jewish needy in Israel and other overseas countries and in the New York area. Other speakers included William Kahn who recently succeeded Sanford Sollender as executive vice president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the UJA-Federation Campaign.
Kahn described cutbacks in government services, ordered by the Reagan Administration, which are reducing the income of the Federation’s 130-member agencies “to the tune of $20 million a year.” He said that “Somehow, we have to keep these services going.”
In a session devoted to Jewish needs at home, Marvin Hochberg, executive director of the YM-YWHA of Riverdale, N.Y., said it was becoming increasingly difficult to “maintain the status quo” of Federation agencies as “our nation is divided into 50 nations.” He said that teachers in Jewish religious schools were seriously underpaid.
Irving Kessler, executive vice chairman of the United Israel Appeal, said the Jewish Agency which receives funds through the UJA campaign in the U.S. and overseas “has had to cut many programs.” He said that should the Soviet Union, Iran or other countries open their doors wider to Jewish emigration, funds must be on hand to absorb the newcomers while dealing with the problems of their housing, training and education.