Washington (Oct. 20)
A National Security Council spokesman said today that the NSC’s top military member was “speaking for himself” when he warned yesterday that there might be a “backlash” in the U.S. against Israel if Congress vetoes the Reagan Administration’s proposed sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The warning was sounded by Maj. Gen. Robert Schweitzer, chief of the NSC’s Defense Policy Cluster, in a speech to the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army. The speech, in which Schweitzer also warned of “a drift toward war” with the Soviet Union, was not cleared by the White House before it was delivered and has been repudiated by the White House. (Late development, P. 3)
In discussing the Middle East, Schweitzer noted that if the Saudi arms package is blocked, the U.S. would lose $8.5 billion in sales and tax revenues. He said the Saudis would then buy Nimrod radar warning planes from Britain and Mirage jet fighters from France. He said that when this happened, Israel would then ask the U.S. for help to meet the new threat, present a “list” of weapons it wanted and ask for the “50 percent grant aid that you’ve given us in the past.”
Schweitzer added, “I wonder if there isn’t going to be some backlash in the U.S.” because Israel will be asking American taxpayers “to buy them out of a threat” that they helped bring about. Peter Daly, the NSC spokesman, said Schweitzer was speaking for himself and that his views on a possible backlash did not reflect the views of the NSC.
PERCY CONDEMNS CRITICISM OF JEWISH COMMUNITY
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Percy (R. III.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who supports the Administration’s arms package sale to Saudi Arabia, has issued a statement saying that criticism of the American Jewish community for lobbying against the arms sale to Saudi Arabia is “patently unfair.” He said that members of the Jewish community have both the “right” and the “responsibility” to make their views public.
“I feel that members of the Jewish community and other ethnic communities have an absolute right to lobby and that this right is wholly legitimate and consistent with American political tradition,” Percy said in a statement released by his office.
“While pressures brought on every Administration and on members of Congress are intense, nevertheless, there is no reason why ethnic groups should not present their views with all the enthusiasm and sincerity that they can muster. In fact, they have a responsibility to themselves and to their communities to present their views effectively, just as the Administration and Congress have a responsibility to consider their views and the views of others before reaching their own individual judgements on major issues.”