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ADL Denounces Threat of Anti-semitism over Jewish Opposition to Awacs Sale

October 29, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reacted sharply today to suggestions that anti-Semitism was being stirred up because of Jewish opposition to the Administration’s proposed sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other weaponry to Saudi Arabia. The democratic process would suffer if Jews were to remain silent, Nathan Perlmutter, national director of the ADL, declared.

“The notion that for participation in discussions — even debates — on issues that are controversial, Jews will suffer anti-Semitism and should therefore be silent, is unworthy of democracy, and for Jews, historically discredited advice,” Perlmutter said in a statement issued here.

“Indeed, were Jews to abandon their rights as Americans on the grounds that their participation in the democratic process is a dangerous undertaking, they’d be serving neither our nation nor themselves. The only beneficiaries would, of course, be anti-Semites. The losers? Both Jews and the democratic process,” he said.

Perlmutter’s statement followed press reports that several Democratic and Republican Senators were reporting evidence of latent anti-Semitism being stirred by the debate over the AWACS sale to which most American Jews are vigorously opposed. The Senators said they found this trend in their mail and in visits to constituents in their home states. They noted that while opposition to the sale was much broader based than the Jewish community and the security threat to Israel was only one element of that apposition, many Americans attributed it to the power of the “Jewish lobby” or the “Israel lobby.”

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