WASHINGTON (May. 19)
Secretary of State George Shultz took the Reagan Administration’s effort to get Jewish support for President Reagan’s proposed $354 million missile sale to Saudi Arabia directly to the Jewish community.
The vote to sustain or override the President’s veto of the resolution adopted by Congress rejecting the sale has “an added dimension,” Shultz told the annual banquet of the American Jewish Committee’s 80th anniversary meeting at the J.W. Marriott Hotel last Thursday night.
He said it would not be “simply a vote on Saudi arms, but a vote on whether we want to say to our President that we support him and the world can see that the President, in the clutch, will have support on something that he feels very deeply about.”
Shultz’s remarks were greeted with silence, which is a reflection of the negative attitude in the Jewish community since Sen. Richard Lugar (R. Ind.) suggested last Tuesday that Reagan seek Jewish support.
Both the government of Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) opposed the sale but decided not to lobby against it. Reagan is scheduled to meet Monday with Jewish leaders on this issue.
It takes a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House to override a Presidential veto. The Saudi sale was rejected by a 73-22 vote of the Senate and a 356-62 vote of the House. The White House is concentrating on the Senate where it must get 23 Senators opposed to the sale to change their vote.
CONTEXT OF SUPPORT FOR ARMS DEAL
Shultz, who was presented with the AJCommittee’s highest award, the American Liberties Medallion, urged support of the sale to the Saudis in the context of support for the U.S. strike against Libya.
He said the raid has resulted in forcing Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to “retreat, and Syria is uneasy — a reaction which may induce that country to think hard about involvement in murderous adventures.”
Noting that the use of military force caused controversy, Shultz said “it is precisely at such times that solidarity counts. We all noticed that Israel was quick to support our action against Libyan terrorism and aggression.”
He then stressed that “this principle also applies to America’s need to support — under carefully limited conditions — Saudi Arabia’s effort to defend the Persian Gulf.”
He added that if “Khomeinism” spread in that area it will harm the strategic interests of both the U.S. and Israel. “There are many in the Arab world who want peace and stability and moderation — and who can be brought to accept the permanent reality of the State of Israel,” Shultz said.
“But if America cannot demonstrate that we are a constant, effective, strong and responsive presence in the Middle East, those with the best of intentions inevitably will make their accommodations with those who bear the worst intentions toward us.” Earlier in his speech, Shultz departed from his text to recall his meeting last Tuesday with Natan (Anatoly) Shcharansky.
He noted that he rode with Shcharansky to the White House in the Secretary’s limousine which was larger than the cell Shcharansky was confined to in the Soviet Union.
“From that cell he rallied people in every part of the world behind the great cause of Soviet Jewry and the great cause of freedom,” Shultz said.
He said Shcharansky presented his ideas on how to help Soviet Jewry. “Whatever our tactics of the moment may be, we must never compromise, we must never give up, we must keep the faith of this cause,” he pledged.
Shultz then introduced to the audience Rozanne Ridgeway, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, who he said, was responsible for the successful negotiations leading to Shcharansky’s release from the Soviet Union.
The AJCommittee also presented awards Thursday night to Dr. Abram Sachar, the first president and now chancellor emeritus of Brandeis University, the Akiba Award; and television producer Norman Lear, the Mass Media Award.