WASHINGTON (May. 19)
Two United States Senators assured the Jewish community Monday night that the Jonathan Pollard spy case will not have any lasting effect on Israeli-U.S. relations.
Both Sens. Sam Nunn (D. Ga.) and John McCain (R. Ariz.) told the some 1,200 persons attending the 28th annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that U.S. support for Israel is deep and lasting. They spoke at a banquet attended by a record number of 35 Senators and 66 House members. Also attending were many senior Reagan Administration officials, including Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
CONFIDENCE IN KNESSET PANEL PROBING POLLARD CASE
The two Senators expressed their confidence that the Knesset committee investigating the Pollard case, headed by Labor MK Abba Eban, will make public all the facts, thus ending the controversy. They also praised the American Jewish community for reducing the damage caused by Pollard, and American Jew, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for Israel.
“The American Jewish community greatly reduced the potential for very serious damage by making it plain, both publicly and privately, to the Israel government that this type of activity is simply unacceptable,” Nunn said.
McCain particularly praised the 65 American Jewish leaders who went to Israel after Pollard was sentenced, to express their disagreement with Israel’s handling of the affair. “It underscores your ability to be good Americans and strong supporters of Israel,” he said.
‘OFFENDED’ BY CHARGES OF DUAL LOYALTY
McCain said he was “offended” by charges of dual loyalty against Jews. “We are fortunate to live in a pluralistic society in which we can have several allegiances,” he said.
He said the U.S. is “a nation of immigrants” and all Americans have the right to “lobby” in support of policies dealing with foreign countries. “It’s as American as apple pie, spaghetti, gefilte fish or Polish sausages,” he said.
Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, rejected the view that some are trying to promote that Israel led the U.S. into providing arms to Iran.
“Both the United States and Israel are sovereign nations,” he said. “Both are perfectly capable of making their own decisions. And both being democracies will be held accountable for their own mistakes. . . by the voters of their respective countries.”
At the same time, Nunn stressed that “both governments in this case engaged in covert conduct that would not have been approved in either country, even behind closed doors.”
McCain noted that both Israel and the U.S. are working for peace in the Middle East. “We cannot dictate the terms,” he stressed. “We are Israel’s partners, not Israel’s parents.”
BACKS MOVE TO CLOSE PLO OFFICES
The freshman Arizona Senator, a retired Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, also backed the move in Congress to close the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington and New York. Bills seeking this have been introduced by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R. Kans.) and Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY).
McCain said the need to shut down the PLO offices has become more “urgent” following the recent meeting of the Palestine National Council in Tunis in which he said PLO leader Yasir Arafat backed the “most radical elements” which “are bent on the destruction of not only Israel, but our way of life.”