MONTICELLO, N.Y (Jun. 19)
Naphtali Lavie, the Israeli Consul General in New York, challenged the Reagan Administration here to undertake initiatives in concert with Israel to achieve a binding peace in Lebanon. He also said the United States must “act rather than react” to developments in the Middle East.
Addressing some 500 delegates attending the opening session of the four day diamond jubilee convention of Bnai Zion last Thursday, Lavie underscored the “cost effectiveness” of U.S. foreign aid to Israel by citing Israel’s role as a “deterrent force” to Soviet expansion in the Middle East. He contrasted this to the unwillingness of any of the so-called “moderate” Arab states to provide bases for the deployment of American forces after they had received large quantities of sophisticated American weaponry.
Lavie termed the “intransigence” of extreme elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the radical Arab states as the “chief obstacle to peace.” He called on the Administration to spurn Saudi Arabian attempts at “petro dollar blackmail” and to focus efforts on removing Syrian and PLO forces from Lebanon so that the Israel-Lebanon accord, signed May 17, could be implemented.
Israel’s Deputy Consul General in New York, Yuri Bar-Ner, asserted that the Arabs’ military option has been sharply curtailed because they can no longer shake the U.S.-Israel military alliance. But he warned, that the Soviet Union was seeking to prevent the imposition of a “pax-Americana” in Lebanon and cautioned that the current “honeymoon” in U.S.-Israel relations could be eroded by possible American moves to placate Syria, cater to the Saudis, reach an agreement with the Soviet Union or reintroduce President Reagan’s September I Middle East peace initiative.
He termed the differing interpretation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which America interprets as “exchanging territory for peace,” as a “constant source of contention.”
Bar-Ner urged Zionist leaders to focus on advancing Jewish education and aliya in order to avert demographic projections that within the next century, America’s Jewish population would fall to under one million and the Arabs could become the majority in Israel.
U.S., ISRAEL SHARE OUTLOOK
Micha Harish, a Labor Alignment Knesset member, underscored the differing perspectives on military and security matters that led to a vacillation in relations between Israel and the U.S. However, he said the basic underlying friendship between the two countries has endured because of a “shared ideological outlook” encompassing values of democracy and humanity.
The Israeli official noted that after earlier periods of pressure to withdraw from Lebanon, Israel was now being encouraged by the U.S. and its West European allies to retain a strong military presence in Lebanon.
The delegates adopted resolutions affirming Bnai Zion’s solidarity with Israel, condemning Arab efforts to isolate Israel diplomatically at the United Nations by equating Zionism with racism and calling for America’s continued support for Israel’s economic and military needs. The convention also endorsed the proposal to create a permanent committee to explore the plight of Jews in oppressed lands and maintain liaison with organizations working in their behalf.
Sichey Wiener was re-elected president and Mel Parness was named executive vice president and national secretary at the concluding session today. The four-day convention was chaired by Ernest Zelnig and was dedicated to Herman Quittman. Bnai Zion’s executive vice president emeritus, on his retirement after 50 years of leadership with America’s oldest and largest Zionist fraternal organization. Among the many tributes to the veteran Zionist leader was the renaming of Bnai Zion’s Swedish Village for Retarded Children in his honor.