Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Abzug Says Best Hopes for Mideast Peace Lies in Direct Negotiations

December 14, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The ZOA dinner was also addressed by Sen. Henry M, Jackson (D.Wash.), a declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. Speaking at a news conference before the dinner, Jackson chastized the Nixon Administration for withholding Phantom jets for Israel but predicted that it “will reverse the State Department and in due time will make jets available” to Israel. He said the Administration would have to do this “to implement the will of the Congress” as expressed in resolutions and legislation for military support for Israel.


According to Jackson, “the key problem facing the Israelis is the survivability of their air force.” He said Israel must maintain its superior position in the quality of air power in order to offset the Arabs’ greater manpower. Jackson said he didn’t believe there would be an outbreak of war in the Mideast as long as the US maintains an unequivocal posture towards the Russians. The Key, he said, is “the will of the US.”

Herman L. Weisman, president of the ZOA told the meeting that by withholding the sale of Phantom jets the US encourages Russian and Egypt to believe that they can demand conditions prior to negotiations. “As Americans, we say to our President that it is in the best interest of our country to stop pussy-footing about selling additional Phantoms to Israel.” Weisman stated. This, he noted, would be the best assurance that Israel would not suffer from a military imbalance.

Earlier yesterday Eban spoke at a Labor Zionist luncheon honoring Howard Agronin of Queens, national vice-president of the Poale Zion-United Labor Zionist Organization. He told the 400 guests that Israel seeks arms not for victory but to prevent war. He said the decision for peace or war in the Mideast was up to President Anwar Sadat and warned Sadat that if Egypt made war, the consequences would not be different than under Nasser.

Rep. Bella Abzug (D.N.Y.), hailed last night the “spirit of the Maccabees as personified by the men and women fighting for the right of Israel to exist as a nation.” described Israel as “one of the liveliest democracies in the world,” and declared that the best hopes for peace in the Middle East lies in direct negotiations between Israel and Egypt.

The fiery Congresswoman drew repeated applause from the more than 300 persons attending the annual Chanukah dinner of Americans for Progressive Israel-Hashomer Hatzair, as she assailed the Nixon Administration for withholding the sale of jets to Israel and observed that the State Department’s announcement that a balance of power has been reached in the Mideast “could encourage an aggressive attitude by Egypt and thus hurt the chances for a political settlement through negotiations.”

Mrs. Abzug urged that a distinction must be made between support for Israel from those Congressmen “who view Israel as a convenient pawn in the cold war and those of us who envision her as a secure, independent nation living in peace with her neighbors.” She stated that it was not her role as an American to tell the Israelis how or on what basis they should negotiate the future of their land, adding:

“They have said that they are willing to enter negotiations with no pre-conditions. They have said that any agreement must accept their right to exist within secure and recognized borders. They have declared their willingness to negotiate a solution to the refugee problems.” These positions, Mrs. Abzug said. “all provide an excellent basis for talks between the Israelis and Arabs that will allow all of the people in the Middle East to live in peace.”

Recalling her visit to Israel last summer, the Congresswoman noted that of “all the forcible impressions” she got was the “frankness and liveliness of the discussion about national problems and goals, the wide range of opinion from extreme right to left, the freedom to analyze and criticize, and all within the context of unified dedication to the preservation of the Jewish homeland.”

Recommended from JTA