JERUSALEM (Feb. 20)
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is spearheading a campaign to convince Congress to cut aid to Israel if Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union settle in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
James Abourezk, a former U.S. senator who helped organize the ADC after leaving the Senate, described the group’s plans in an interview on Jordanian television, which is seen in Israel.
Abourezk, who is national chairman of the ADC, will also visit the Soviet Union, where he said he intends to meet with “the Soviet Jewish leadership, in order to explain to them the real situation in Israel.”
He said Soviet Jews now believe Israel is a land of milk and honey. “Only when they arrive, they find out the truth, but then it’s too late,” he said.
The former Democratic senator from South Dakota said he also plans to meet with Soviet officials “as high as possible” to explain the ADC’s position on Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel.
Abourezk alleged that “Israeli right-wing settlers, with the help of Israel, are recruiting Soviet Jews to settle in the occupied territories.”
An American of Lebanese ancestry, Abourezk said his aim is to warn members of Congress that “there is enough conflict now” in the Middle East and no need to worsen it by the “massive settlement of Soviet Jews in the occupied territories.”
Israel has consistently denied charges from Arab countries that the absorption of Soviet Jews is directed to any specific area of the country. According to official statistics, a total of no more than 130 Soviet Jews settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1989, out of more than 12,000 who immigrated here.
Abourezk, who is visiting the ADC chapter in Amman, helped to organize the organization in 1981, two years after leaving the Senate. He said the ADC plans to move more openly into the U.S. political arena, because “Congress and the administration are the key players” in the Middle East.
He said his committee would show how the United States is using the tax money of American citizens to brutalize the Palestinians living under Israeli administration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.