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Leaders of 120 Jewish Agencies Assail U.S. Arms Sales to Arabs

The heads of 108 Jewish community relations councils, in cities across the United States, and 12 major national Jewish community relations agencies, joined in a letter of protest to President-Reagan over continuing U.S. arms sales to Arab states, and recent proposals to supply advanced weapons to Jordan, it was announced here today.

The letter to Reagan yesterday was signed by the leaders of all 120 groups, member agencies of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC), the national coordinating body for the field of Jewish community relations.

In releasing the letter, NJCRAC chairman Bennett Yanowitz noted the growth of Jewish community concern after recent press reports of statements, widely attributed to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, that advocated the sale of F-16 fighter planes and mobile “Hawk” anti-aircraft missiles to Jordan, and that propounded an Administration desire to “redirect” American policy away from Israel toward “friendly” Arab countries.

ALARMED AT U.S. ARMS BUILD-UP

The Jewish groups’ letter expressed “alarm that the United States, rather than acting to stem the massive arms build-up in the Arab world, continues to be a major purveyor of weaponry. ” That policy, the letter stated, “endangers peace in the region, threatens the security of Israel, and undermines the long-term interests of the United States.”

The Jewish leaders’ letter also pointedly asserted that the recent 8.5 billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia, as well as the approach to Jordan, had not yielded any “concessions that advance peace in the Middle East.”

The letter charged that “Jordan remains adamant in its rejection of the Camp David framework as does Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabia, the letter further charged, “just rejected assurances you gave to the Senate pertaining to the use of the F-15s and AWACS as well as U.S. proposals seeking to strengthen U.S. strategic capabilities in the region.”

URGE UNAMBIGUOUS SUPPORT FOR ALLIES

In their letter, the Jewish leaders asserted that “it is time to ‘redirect’ our policy in the Middle East away from the sale of arms to unstable and uncooperative regimes.” They called for “a reassertion of unambiguous support for those reliable allies, like Israel, which have demonstrated the sincerity of their desire for peace by negotiating and signing treaties that have entailed great national risk and sacrifice, and which clearly recognize the Soviet-inspired threat to their own and United States’ national interests in the region.”

In today’s letter, the Jewish leaders also referred to Reagan’s February 16th communication to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. They stated they were “gratified” by Reagan’s “own deep personal commitment to the security of Israel,” and that they were “pleased” that Reagan had “reaffirmed America’s unique bond with Israel,” and had given assurances of maintaining Israel’s “qualitative technological military edge in the region.”

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