Leading Congressman Raps U.S. Policy in the Mideast

Rep. Clarence Long (D. Md.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and the initiator of the bill in the House to stop the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia, warned here today that the Saudis have “an extremely delicate regime and could be easily overthrown.”

He also told several hundred Zionist Organization of America leaders from throughout the country attending a special National Executive Committee meeting that “in recent years, American foreign policy has been wrong in the Middle East, for while trying to protect Israel, the sale of sophistical weapons to Israel’s enemies is counter to helping Israel.”

The Congressman said that since the passage of the bill in the Senate to sell the AWACS, “the Administration ” has lost standing with the American people and that a couple more ‘victories’ like that, and the Administration is dead.” Long said “the Israelis are a gallant people who had the guts to stand up to the poison of the world around them.”

URGES SEPARATION OF PERSONALITIES FROM POLITICS

Ivan Novick, ZOA president, who said the special meeting had been called to express “great concern regarding U.S. Administration actions toward Israel,” called for separating personalities from politics in Israel as well as is the United States.

“A sense of fairness and responsibility demands that personal attitudes or reactions to Prime Minister (Menachem) Begin, and even his negotiating and rhetorical style, should not divert attention from the basic position and policies of the State of Israel. At the same time, personal political preferences should not influence Americans to determine the validity of the Administration’s decisions. Policy must be assessed on the basis of merit, taking into consideration Israel’s security and economic needs as a viable nation, which are completely compatible with the best interests of the United States.”

Novick also said that “if Prime Minister Begin were not in office, basic differences between Israel’s position and that of the Administration would still exist.” He cited the failure of the U.S. to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as an example.

CITES A FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE

But Novick also warned that “if we set recent rhetoric aside, and even discount Israeli action and the Administration’s reaction, what remains appears to be a fundamental difference in basic approach between Israel and the Administration. We must accept the possibility that in spite of our best efforts, these differences may not be completely reconcilable.”

ESSENCE OF REAL STATESMANSHIP

The ZOA leader added that “it is important” to note that following Begin’s sharp attack on the Administration for suspending its memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation after Israel annexed the Golan Heights, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and other Administration officials, sought to smooth over Israel U.S. difficulties.

Haig, in particular, said in a television interview December 20, hours after Begin’s sharply worded statement, that President Reagan understood the “vital importance of our obligations to the people of Israel and guarantees to the survival of that state.”

Novick said Administration officials “demonstrated, in their public television appearances, the essence of real statesmanship. In public view, they expressed a desire for reconciliation. Thus, Jewish leaders have a responsibility to show equal statesmanship and leadership.”

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