Special to JTA Klutznick: It Would Be Demeaning Not to Accept Invitation from Sadat
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Special to JTA Klutznick: It Would Be Demeaning Not to Accept Invitation from Sadat

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Philip M. Klutznick, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and eight or nine other prominent American Jews will meet with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt tomorrow morning at Blair House at his invitation, as individuals and not as representatives of communal organizations with which they might be associated.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by telephone from Chicago, Klutznick said he received a phone call last weekend from Egyptian Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal inviting him to meet with Sadat. The Jewish leader said he accepted because Sadat “is here as the guest of the President of the United States on a mission that is vital to the whole world–peace in the Middle East. If he invites me as an American Jew to meet him, I would consider it demeaning not to accept the invitation.”

Klutznick stated that “I was invited as Philip Klutznick but I cannot disassociate myself from the office which I hold in the World Jewish Congress. Therefore, I will pursue its mandate in my discussions. I consulted with some of the WJC officers in the United States and Canada before accepting.”

Among those understood who also may be attending tomorrow’s meeting at Blair House are Robert R. Nathan, the Washington economic development specialist; Morris L. Levinson, New York business executive; Dr. Guido Goldman, of Harvard; Prof. Avram Udovich, of Princeton; Dr. Martin Myerson, president of the University of Pennsylvania; and Edgar Bronfman, a New York business executive.


Their attendance is regarded in some quarters as representing a division within the American Jewish community. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted unanimously last Thursday not to seek a meeting with Sadat while he is in this country “lest the Jewish community be interpreted as seeking to take part in these (Israeli-Egyptian) negotiations and lest such a meeting be construed as a surrogate for direct Egyptian-Israeli talks.”

Klutznick himself said he did not “convey an invitation” to the Presidents Conference “on behalf of anyone.” There was a report to the effect that Sadat had expressed a wish to meet with the Presidents Conference leaders and that this wish had been conveyed to them.


Rabbi Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, was especially bitter about Klutznick’s meeting with Sadat, In a

(In Jerusalem, Max Fisher, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, in a press interview today, urged American Jewish leaders to think hard before agreeing to meet with Sadat. While he did not advise against such meetings he did warn that Sadat was calculating in his own interests, not those of world Jewry, when he invited American Jews to meet with him. Fisher asserted it would be a mistake for Sadat to believe that he can drive a wedge between American Jewry and Israel. American Jews, Fisher stated, believe that it is for Israel, and Israel alone, to determine where its vital security interests lay.)


In discussing the meeting with Sadat, Klutznick emphasized that the WJC has resolved, first, its backing for “the security and independence of the State of Israel and full support of its legitimate aims,” and, second, “we have always stood for a just peace settlement in the Middle East.”

He added: “I do not intend to divert or sway from the resolutions of the World Jewish Congress. I have neither the authority nor would it be wise for him (Sadat) to assume that I can or would negotiate for the State of Israel. Only the government of Israel can negotiate in its foreign affairs and its security on behalf of its people. I have said this all over Europe, in Israel and in the United States these past weeks–and I believe it.”

In view of reports since Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem last November that Israel and Egypt would undertake joint ventures for economic development in Egypt and Sinai after a peace treaty is signed, Klutznick was asked whether that would be a purpose of tomorrow’s meeting, especially since some of those meeting with him are prominent economists and businessmen. Klutznick replied he did not know what the topics would be.

From the time of the announcement a little more than a week ago that Sadat was to visit Washington for six days, many became convinced that a major purpose of his trip was to attempt to influence the American Jewish community leaders to veer towards his view for an Arab-Israeli settlement. His “open letter” to American Jews published last Sunday was generally regarded as the opening gun of his campaign in that direction.


In related developments, Burton M. Joseph, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, charged that the Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, had decided on Jan. 30 to publish an “open letter” to Sadat from the ADL but subsequently reversed itself. The ADL’s letter, which was a response to Sadat’s open letter, noted that Israel has shown great flexibility regarding Sinai, the West Bank and the Palestinians and that American Jews are not the proper party to negotiations between Israel and Egypt.

(Meanwhile, some 70 people at a rally sponsored by the Jewish Committee of Concern (JCC), a newly formed activist-group, staged a demonstration today in New York at the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations to protest what they termed “the rabid Nazi-like Jew-hatred in the Egyptian government controlled news media.” Victor Vancier, executive director of the group, said Sadat’s “sole motive in journeying to Washington has been to intensify U.S. pressure on Israel for one-sided concessions which he feels can lead to the destruction of the Jewish State.”

(Earlier in the day a fire bomb was thrown at an Egyptian diplomat’s home in the New York suburb of Pelham. Police said there were no injuries and damage was limited to the front door. The home firebombed was that of Baghat Ahmed Tawil who is assigned to the UN.)

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