WASHINGTON (Jun. 23)
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger told American Jewish leaders yesterday that he favored a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon while Syrian forces also left that country. He said he hoped one result of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon would be the emergence of a strong, independent central Lebanese government.
Weinberger met for an hour at the Pentagon with a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, headed by its chairman-elect, Julius Berman. The Jewish leaders said they told him that the American Jewish community is “totally united” in support of Israel’s action against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon and stressed that U.S. participation in efforts to restore peace and security to the area was “essential.”
Berman was accompanied by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Jacob Stein, President Reagan’s former liaison to the Jewish community, and Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the President’s Conference.
They gave Weinberger a letter from Howard Squadron, outgoing chairman of the Presidents Conference, sharply criticizing the Defense Secretary’s remarks on a television appearance last Sunday comparing Israel’s invasion of Lebanon to Argentina’s aggression against the Falkland Islands.
Squadron, who was unable to attend the Pentagon meeting, claimed “The situations are not comparable. There was no bombardment of the Falkland Islands from Argentina. The action by Israel was for the purpose of putting an end to such bombardment of northern Israel without any territorial claim or ambition.”