WASHINGTON (Oct. 23)
Jewish leaders have taken strong exception to remarks made Friday by U.S. Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci on the sale of sophisticated American weapons to Arab nations.
Seymour Reich, international president of B’nai B’rith, was severely critical of Carlucci on Friday for saying that opposition to U.S. arms sales to Arab countries was costing American workers billions of dollars in jobs.
And on Sunday, Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, added his own words of cautious criticism in response to the defense secretary’s remarks. The conference represents 48 national Jewish organizations.
Carlucci spoke Friday at a luncheon meeting of the American-Arab Affairs Council in Huntington, W.Va. He identified opposition to the Arab arms sales as coming from “various interest groups and many in Congress,” but mentioned no group or individual by name.
“The notion that U.S. defense cooperation with moderate Arab states poses a danger to Israel is ill-founded and untrue,” Carlucci told his audience. “Israel must regard non-American arms in the hands of its neighbors as a higher risk.”
The defense secretary said he was “convinced that most Arab states are willing to live in peace with Israel, but are themselves continually threatened by radical forces in the region.
“That is why I believe that moderate states must be strong enough to resist intimidation and take the bold steps to make peace with Israel,” he said.
‘MAINSTREAM OF AMERICAN OPINION’
In a statement issued Sunday in New York, Abram noted that Carlucci has been “a strong advocate of the U.S.-Israeli strategic alliance.” He said he was therefore “puzzled by the secretary’s reference to ‘various interest groups that oppose selling lethal weapons to Arab states.”
Abram said it is not “interest groups,” but “the broad mainstream of American opinion” that opposes the sale of sophisticated arms to Arab countries, fearing that such weapons could “fall into the hands of terrorists or other anti-American forces.”
He added, “Selling arms to Arab states rewards their refusal to make peace and encourages them in the belief that they can wage successful war against Israel.”
Reich issued a statement here Friday saying B’nai B’rith was “dismayed to hear reports that Secretary of Defense Carlucci has defined United States arms sales policy in terms of dollars and cents.”
According to Reich, “the cornerstone of the U.S. arms sales policy has always been to examine first and foremost the strategic and moral implications of military sales.”
The United States rightly has denied sophisticated weaponry to nations that “continue to declare themselves to be in a state of war” with Israel, in defiance of America’s foreign policy goals, Reich said.