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Joint Ajcongress, ADL Study Charges Quaker Report on Mideast is Biased

August 11, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A comprehensive study published jointly by the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith charged a widely-circulated Quaker report on the Middle East with “blatant bias” and “recommendations detrimental to the cause of peace in the Middle East.” The study. “Truth and Peace in the Middle East–A Critical Analysis of the Quaker Report,” scheduled for release here tomorrow, accused the American Friends Service Committee of distorting historical fact to bolster a “pre-conceived” pro-Arab bias and masking the effort with claims of objectivity. The authors–three American professors–said despite the humanitarian traditions of the Quakers their document nevertheless “presented a slanted and one-sided set of conclusions.” The Quaker report, “Search for Peace in the Middle East,” received much attention from the nation’s news media when it was published last year. The ADL-AJCongress response asserted that sharp criticism by scholars to whom the Quakers showed a pre-publication draft was virtually ignored because it undercut the Quakers’ intended argument. The authors question whether the Quaker document sprang from the view of “chronically pre-Arab old Middle East hands of the State Department” that a pro-Arab slant was required to offset support for Israel in the American general public. The authors of the response were Dr. Arnold Soloway, an economics professor who has taught at Harvard, Boston College and Brown University, Dr. Edwin Weiss, professor of mathematics at Boston University, and Dr. Gerald Caplan, senior psychiatric consultant for the U.S. Peace Corps and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Professor Ben Halpern of Brandeis University provided a long memorandum that served as the basis for the critique.

The study was particularly sharp in its criticism of Quaker proposals for a Big Four guarantee of peace. The three scholars asserted that “there is no reason to expect that the Big Four could or would guarantee a true peace in the Middle East.” The Soviets, for example, had an “enormous investment in the continuation of a no-peace-no-war state of tension” since “true peace would reduce their leverage with the Arab states to a point inimical to their ambitions in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.” Furthermore, France and Great Britain, “from their own public records, are mainly concerned with shoring up what is left of their influence among the Arab states and extending their ties with the oil-producing states.” The United States is described as having a real interest in promoting a stable peace in the area as the best hope for restoring its influence among the Arab states, “but for its own economic and political reasons it is unwilling to risk offending the Arab states by insisting on the processes and substance which are essential to a permanent solution.” The study called the Quaker report’s emphasis on Big Four participation “grossly inconsistent with the usual Quaker espousal of the rights of small countries.” Furthermore, it went on to say, the Quaker report seemed determined to persist in assigning responsibilities to the UN which that body has repeatedly proven incapable of fulfilling.

Other points made in the critical analysis were that: the Quaker report accepted–and furthered without question or quotation marks–the Arab propaganda view that Israel was imposed on the area by Western states guilty of anti-Semitism to solve, at Arab expense, a problem Arabs never created; the Quaker account falsely implied that the 1948 fighting erupted spontaneously and simultaneously on both sides when, in fact, it was launched by the Arabs despite Jewish appeals for peace and coexistence; the record of events and proceedings in the United Nations prior to June 5,1967 and the public record in the world’s news media make “preposterous” the Quaker judgment that the UAR and Israel were equally guilty for the outbreak of war; and that the Quaker advice to American Jews “to reexamine the full implications of their role with respect to American Middle East policies” was insensitive and, in reality, a warning to American Jews to be wary of exercising their rights as citizens. The ADL-AJCongress study called the Quaker attempt at intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict “anti-Israel” and “particularly regrettable because of the long history of mutual respect and sympathy between American Jews and American Friends and their past collaboration in many humanitarian causes.” The authors of the study asked the Quakers to review its content in the light of “their own consciences and critical faculties.” In issuing the critical analysis of the Quaker report, Seymour Graubard, national chairman of the ADL and Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the AJCongress, said it was their hope that the critique would contribute to “a more accurate assessment of the Middle East crisis and to meaningful dialogue in the future.”

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