New York (Nov. 15)
Of the pro-AWACS mail received by U.S. Senators during the debate, 7.1 percent was anti-Semitic and 32 percent was critical of Israel for alleged “interference” in the controversy, according to a survey made public by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The survey, conducted following reports that anti-Semitism had surfaced among some of the Senators’ constituents during the AWACS debate, further revealed that the mail ran more than 2-1 against the sale.
Seventy-two Senatorial offices provided the ADL with data on their anti-Semitic mail and 61 of these provided data on letters critical of Israel. In announcing the findings, ADL national director Nathan Perlmutter declared that “any injection of anti-Semitism into an American public debate, on any issue, is abhorrent and should be promptly and resolutely condemned.”
Perlmutter also expressed “deep concern” that many letters singled out Israel for alleged interference in U.S. foreign policy formulation at a time when Saudi Prince Bandar was in Washington energetically lobbying for the AWACS sale.
Furthermore, the ADL official said, those critical of Israel or Jews “ignored the pre-AWACS campaign waged by what President Eisenhower once called the ‘military-industrial complex’ and the efforts to promote the sale by large American corporations with links to financial interests in Saudi Arabia.”
LETTERS MOSTLY FROM FRINGE ELEMENTS
The ADL survey revealed that the 72 Senators had received approximately 166,000 pieces of mail, of which some 15,000 spoke of Israeli “interference” and 3,300 contained anti-Semitic references. “The volume, tone and language of the 3,300 letters suggested that they originated mostly with fringe elements rather than with mainstream Americans,” Perlmutter said.
Since the dates of the letters were not available, the ADL official continued, no conclusions could be drawn as to whether the anti-Israel mail was influence by President Reagan’s comment that “it is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.” Nor was it possible to assess the impact of former President Nixon’s remark singling out Jews as an obstacle to the AWACS sale, Perlmutter noted.
The ADL survey was conducted by Marvin Rappaport, associate director of the ADL’s Washinton civil rights office, in cooperation with David Brody, director of the office; Irwin Suall, director of ADL’s national fact finding department; and Kenneth Jacobson, director of the ADL’s Middle Eastern affairs department.