NEW YORK (Jan. 14)
State Sen. Albert B. Lewis of Brooklyn wants the city to withdraw all funds they have on deposit with Chase Manhattan Bank because “the state of Israel has no friend at Chase Manhattan.” Lewis, a Democrat, said the funds should be withdrawn “because of the pro-Arab position of Chase Manhattan’s president, David Rockefeller, who is misusing the bank’s power to undermine this nation’s support for Israel.” Much of that power. Lewis asserted, “comes from funds on deposit from the city and state governments.”
The lawmaker’s view was expressed in letters sent to City Controller Abraham Beame and State Controller Arthur Levitt. In a letter to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Lewis urged him to use his influence “with the Nixon Administration to alter the administration’s obvious shift to a pro-Arab policy.” Lewis added that “if Gov. Rockefeller, who himself has enormous oil interests throughout the world remains silent on this critical issue, his silence should be interpreted as support of his brother David and the Arab nations.”
Lewis’ request follows that of the Tensor Corporation which last week announced it was withdrawing its account from the bank in protest against a “dollar diplomacy based on oil interest,” and called on other depositors to join in this protest. The Tensor Company’s statement, signed by the firm’s president, Jay Monroe, appeared as an “open letter to the American public” in the New York Times January 8.
BANK SPOKESMAN SAYS ROCKEFELLER MISUNDERSTOOD
Beame told the JTA today he had not yet seen Lewis’ letter and would have no comment until he studied its contents. A spokesman for the bank said he felt both the Tensor statement and that by Lewis appeared to be based on a misreading of David Rockefeller’s position on the Middle East. He said Rockefeller’s view, as expressed in a statement to the press last week, was that the U. S. must do all it can to safeguard the security and sovereign existence of Israel, and that a compromise was necessary on the part of both Israel and the Arab states to achieve peace.
The bank spokesman said “some” depositors had called the bank after the Tensor statement appeared “but when we clarified Mr. Rockefeller’s views to them they were satisfied. We’ve had no run on bank deposits being withdrawn.” As an afterthought, he added: “The Israel Bond Organization uses the bank as its fiscal agent.”