Washington (Sep. 13)
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the leader of the Moral Majority, said here that Premier Menachem Begin of Israel told him that he had rejected suggestions to separate himself from the conservative movement. “Mr. Falwell, there are those who work very hard to separate us,” Falwell quoted Begin as saying during their meeting Friday. “We are not going to be separated. We need each other.”
Many leading spokesmen in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in this country, as well as many Congressmen, artists and intellectuals, have attacked the Moral Majority as an extremist conservative group which is trying to undermine and eradicate the social and economic gains won over the past few decades.
Some Congressmen have denounced the Moral Majority for helping defeat a number of liberal legislators in the last national elections who were on the Moral Majority’s “hit list” and have pointed out that this ultra-conservative movement has prepared another “hit list” for 1984 elections. Some of the Congressmen who were “hit” in the last election, like Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, and some who are on the new “list,” like Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D. N. Y.) and Sens. Paul Sarbanes (D. Md.) Edward Kennedy (D. Mass) and Henry Jackson (D. Wash.) are staunch supporters of Israel.
Falwell, accompanied by his wife, revealed Begin’s remarks to him after he and 19 others, mostly evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, met for 30 minutes with the Premier at Blair House.
FALWELL INVITED BY ISRAEL EMBASSY
Falwell told reporters that he was invited to the meeting by the Israel Embassy and that he drew up the list of the other guests who included the three top political officials from Virginia, where he lives: Gov. John Dalton, a Republican, and Senators John Warner, a Republican, and Harry Byrd, an Independent. Also present was Gerald Strober, executive director of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University, a long time supporter of close ties between Jews and fundamentalist Christians. Begin stressed to the group that “there is a sepcial relationship between Jews and Christians that is dear to me,” Falwell said.
The Moral Majority leader said that fundamentalist Christians support Israel’s right to exist. There is “no question in our minds that God did deed the land to Abraham and his descendants,” he said. “We believe that God deals with nations in relation to how nations deal with Israel.” He said on this basis the Soviet Union’s major mistake is not its enmity to the United States but its harsh treatment of Jews and the State of Israel.
Begin also told the visitors that he was “greatly pleased” with his talks with President Reagan and that he had found Reagan to be “a true friend of Israel,” Falwell said. The Moral Majority leader said that most American Christians believe that the United States needs Israel for its own security and that Israel is “America’s only stable friend in the Middle East.”
Falwell said he could not say whether the Moral Majority would oppose the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia. Asked for his personal opinion, he replied, “I hope we don’t do it.”
Warner, a member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, said that since his committee will be holding hearings on the AWACS transaction, he is trying to take a neutral position on the proposal for the time being. But he said the strategic cooperation that was worked out by Reagan and Begin during their two days of talks will provide a “proper balance” between Israel and the moderate Arab states.
But an earlier visitor to Begin at Blair House Friday morning, Jackson, did speak out against the AWACS sale. Jackson is the leader with Sen. Bob Packwood, (R. Ore.) in the Senate resolution to oppose the sale which reportedly already has 44 sponsors.
Begin also met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig and with AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland.