The sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia is against the interests of both the United States and Israel, according to Tom Dine, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Speaking to the Middle East Commission of the Jewish Federation Council’s Community Relations Committee, Dine said the proposed sale has put the Jewish community in the U. S. in a “showdown” situation over the issue with the new administration.
“We have an administration that seems to be split in its overall view toward Israel,” Dine said. “We have the President, Secretary of State (Alexander) Haig and National Security Advisor Richard Allen strongly supportive of Israel while Secretary of Defense (Casper) Weinberger and several others seem to maintain a more ‘balanced view. This will be something to reckon with in the future.”
The danger of this proposed sale to the U. S. is clear, Dine said. “This country will be relinquishing its most sophisticated military technology to a country that is only very tenuously in the Western camp,” he observed.
“Our NATO allies are only now just receiving this type of equipment and even then, the AWACS, for example, will not be under the control of each individual country but under a unified NATO command control. This would mean that if Saudi Arabia gets the AWACS they would be the only country in the world other than our own to have these planes under their control. This is a situation that I believe poses a serious danger to our own security.”
Continuing, Dine delcared: “We must get the message across to the American people that this country is being held hostage to the whims of the Saudis. We must let our representatives in Washington know that this arms proposal, if approved, would put our best technological achievements in the hands of an unstable government–one that may very well in the future go the way of Iran. We must make everyone aware that creating an arms race situation in the Middle East will not alleviate tension in the area.”
Dine also had some sober warnings about the Soviet Union’s future role in the area, predicting that they will become heavily involved in the arms race in the Middle East over the next 10 years. This fact, he warned, will put Israel in the position of being surrounded by a number of hostile nations with very sophisticated arms.
“We believe we now have the votes to block this sale,” Dine concluded. “But is a very changeable situation and we know the administration will be hitting hard at some of our supporters trying to get them to change. We must keep the pressure on. I urge every Jew and non-Jew who opposes this sale to write their Senators and Congressmen and let them know their views.”
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.