Twice within recent weeks Carter Administration foreign affairs officials have listened at the State Department to guest speakers denouncing Zionism, berating Israel and advocating a Palestinian state.
“The Secretary’s Open Forum,” an organization comprising about a thousand government employes mostly in the State Department, and supported by government funds, sponsored appearances of James Zogby, head of the Palestine Human Rights Committee whose credentials are now being scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Justice, and Edmund Hanauer, a foe of Israel and Zionism who supports a Palestinian state.
Their appearances, like others, were proceeded by announcements on State Department stationery “to all employes” of the State Department, the Agency for International Development, the International Communications Agency, and the Arms Control Disarmament Agency. The notice, posted on bulletin boards and in elevators, bears the Department’s official seal, the schedule of events and the speakers.
Zogby’s activities for Palestinian Arabs, including conferences in Washington with speakers attacking the presence of Israelis on the West Bank and Jerusalem, has led Rep. William Brodhead (R. Mich.), the ranking minority member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to ask the Department of Justice to determine whether he should register as a foreign agent.
The forum’s notice emphasized Hanger’s topic would be “Is Zionism a Form of Racism?” and that he would “speak in defense of this proposition.” Hanauer was identified as executive director of “Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine” and its Washington office as “the Middle East Resource Center.” It also aid he is a member of “American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism and various organizations concerned with “human rights.”
While well-informed sources in Washington on Jewish communal affairs were virtually unacquainted with Hanauer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that in January, 1976 he was quoted as saying that the anti-Zionist resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November, 1975 is “essentially accurate although an oversimplification.”
He was also reported in December, 1976 as supporting the creation of a Palestinian state and claiming that Israel violates the human rights of Palestinians. JTA’s efforts to reach Hanauer by telephone in the Washington area were unsuccessful.
SPEECHES RAISE QUESTIONS
The Hanauer and Zogby speeches within the State Department aroused revulsion and wonderment as to what is happening with in the Carter Administration regarding both Israel and Jewry. President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale have continually defended Israel and compared its values with America’s. The United States has condemned the UN’s anti-Zionist resolution and anti-Zionist manifestations in other international forums. The U.S. government has also steadfastly condemned Nazism.
But the Zogby and Hanauer scheduling and the recent disclosure of a White House official’s apparent belittlina of concern over proceedings involving Archbishop Valerian Irifa’s interview on Radio Free Europe May I has baffled and outraged observers here. “How more preposterous can these officials in the Administration be than what those events are showing,” one observer exclaimed.
In the Trifa case, Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY) has twice asked Carter to dismiss the National Security Council’s (NSC) overseas propaganda expert John Henzes for his remarks to the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting. Having received a reply from a staff secretary at NSC, Holtzman has now called for an apology from NSC director Zbigniew Brzezinski. Thus, the Henzes Issue remains unresolved.
ORIGIN OF THE FORUM
Paul Molineaux, who heads the “Secretary’s Open Forum, “told the JTA that the organization “grew out of the Vietnam War.” It was created, he said, by the then Secretary of State Dean Rusk because “there was a feeling around the State Department that ideas independent of established policy were not getting a fair hearing and something had to be done about dissenting views differing from views by the decision makers who make foreign policy.”
“It is strictly an in-house organization,” Molineaux said. “We don’t publish outside the Executive branch of anything that emerges.” He said he is the forum’s only full-time employe and that he is under “the general guidance” of a steering group of which he is also the chairman. “The forum consists of anyone in the government’s foreign affairs community who cares to be a member, “he said. The State Department provides space for meetings and other facilities.
The Hanauer appearance, Molineaux said, drew about 100 persons. The usual turnout averages 50-75, he said. Forum speakers, he said, have included Sen. Richard Stone (D.Fla.), Harvard professor Stanley Hoffman and American University professor Amos Perlmutter. He said that “in January we will have someone from the Zionist Organization of America, “but he said he did not know who it would be.
A Washington political analyst discussing the forum’s activities remarked, “This means the forum at least considers anti-Zionism to be legitimate even though America’s worst enemies mouth it. It means that some personnel in the Department, the White House and other branches of government equate the PLO terrorists with democratic Israel. If the forum needs ‘dissenting views’ it can get them easily from the diatribes at the UN against Israel and in the numerous publications Hooding the United States from anti-Israeli organizations.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.