Pearson Tells ZOA That Caution is Needed Before Sending New UN Force to Mideast
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Pearson Tells ZOA That Caution is Needed Before Sending New UN Force to Mideast

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Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s former Prime Minister and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said today that no new United Nations Emergency Force should be sent to the Middle East without both the practical and the juridical basis of that force being made clear beyond danger of later and arbitrary interpretation.” The only exception to this principle, he said, should be the dispatching of a UN force in the case of an “actual outbreak of fighting in circumstances which made UN intervention urgently and immediately necessary as a temporary measure.” Mr. Pearson spoke at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America at which ZOA president Jacques Torczyner presented to him the organization’s annual Theodor Herzl award “in recognition of his commitment to Jewish freedom and Israel.”

Addressing some 1,000 dinner guests, Herbert G. Klein, President Richard M. Nixon’s Director of Communications, said that “a strong American presence in the Middle East will grow when Americans can go to work again with the people of the area in building a better future.” He brought the President’s greetings to the ZOA.

Mr. Pearson, as the then Secretary of State for External Affairs, presented a 1956 UN resolution on which called for an UN Emergency Force in the Sinai Peninsula. He received the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving the 1956 Suez Crisis. In May, 1967, Secretary General U Thant withdrew the UNEF force along the Gaza Strip and at Sharm el-Sheikh at the request of Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser and without consulting UN organs. Mr. Pearson defended the 1956 UN intervention today saying that the armed conflict and threat of escalation at the time “required an international force to be brought into being without time for sufficient consideration of its organization and juridical basis being possible.”

He called upon the Arab states to reverse their policy of non-recognition of Israel and to take that “essential first step” toward establishment of peace. He noted that behind Arab intransigence was the Soviet Union “without any pretence of objectivity or fairness of judgment, and with her own games to play.” Mr. Torczyner praised Mr. Pearson’s UN roles of two decades ago when he was instrumental in helping secure passage of the Palestine Partition Resolution. The gold medal was given to Mr. Pearson by Herman L. Weisman, chairman of the ZOA’s administrative board.


Dr. Emanuel Neumann, chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency, warned in a speech that the U.S. was showing “ominous signs of departing from her former position and yielding to the Soviet-Arab attempts at political extortion and blackmail.” He recalled Mr. Pearson’s contributions to the establishment of Israel in 1947 and 1948 when he had a major role in the decision for partition and establishment of Israel. Dr. Neumann, an honorary ZOA president, said it was “a coincidence that we Zionists should be honoring Mr. Pearson 21 years later at the moment when Israel may be faced with diplomatic and political decisions that transcend any since the establishment of the State itself.”

Expressing hope that the U.S. would not depart from its historic tradition of friendship for Israel. Dr. Neumann said that Washington “has repeatedly stated that the grand objective is peace; that only the states which had been at war can negotiate the terms of peace; and that the settling of ‘agreed and secure’ boundaries for the future was an integral part of the peacemaking process. It is now reported,” he added,”that State Department officials have already conveyed to the Russians an American proposal to have Israel return the Sinai Peninsula –the whole of it–to Egypt. This proposal, according to reports, has been made without the agreement of Israel and before a single meeting has taken place between the Israelis and Egyptians.”

He added that this proposal “has been rejected by Egypt with scorn and opprobrium heaped upon the U.S. it is not too difficult to fathom the crude strategy: It is to maintain their pressure and their clamor with Russian backing until they have recovered all they had lost in war and are again in a position to renew the bloody conflict. How our State Department can fail to see this, and proceed down the slippery slope on which it has seemingly set foot, is much more difficult to understand. It is not too late to take the Egyptians at their word and withdraw the humiliating offer which has been made and rejected.”

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