American Jewish leaders have been reassured by National Security Affairs Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski of the Carter Administration’s continuing close relationship with Israel and its standing position that a Middle East peace settlement will be up to the parties to the conflict to negotiate.
Brzezinski, who is chairman of the National Security Council, met for an hour at the White House yesterday with a delegation of national Jewish leaders headed by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Their discussions covered the Middle East and the American foreign policy stance. Schindler, who served as spokesman for the group at a meeting with reporters afterwards, noted that he could not report Brzezinski’s statements. But he gave the essence of what the Administration official said.
“Mr. Brzezinski reaffirmed the Administration’s underlying and fundamental commitment to Israel, recognizing that very special organic relationship which obtains between these two countries,” Schindler said. “None of the Administration statements which thus far have been made on such issues as the territories and the Palestinians represent an American blueprint which is to be imposed on the parties,” he added. “They are to be seen rather as providing a conceptual framework within which the parties can negotiate and themselves arrive at resolutions.”
SEES NO BLUEPRINT FOR MIDEAST
At another point, Schindler repeated that “America has no blueprint and does not intend to impose anything on the Middle East.” It would “suggest things but by no means” form a “crystallization,” he said. But in reply to reporters’ questions he conceded that he would not rule out “imposition” of a settlement in the context where “a government is so weak it cannot negotiate or impose its will on the people” it governs. Schindler expressed hope that a “strong government” will emerge from today’s parliamentary elections in Israel.
Schindler said the meeting with Brzezinski was sought when it appeared that the Administration was intent on keeping Israel off a preferred list of countries receiving U.S. military supplies and blocking the co-production with Israel of certain military equipment. Following a session with key Senators last week, President Carter reversed that trend and publicly declared that his Administration’s “number one commitment” in the Middle East was Israel’s security.
Schindler said that although that obstacle in Israeli-American relations was removed, the meeting with Brzezinski was held as planned. He said his group held more or less regular monthly sessions with Administration officials. The next one is scheduled for this Friday when Jewish leaders will meet with Stuart Eizenstat, director of the President’s Domestic Council. Energy will be the chief topic of discussion. Asked about the Administration’s follow-through on Carter’s commitments with respect to arms deliveries and the co-production of such equipment as F-16 jet fighters and Israel’s new Merkava (Chariot) tank, Schindler said the Jewish leaders had indicated to Brzezinski that “often a gap exists between the statement and the deed” and urged him to do everything in his power “to follow up both procedures.” Schindler described Brzezinski’s response as “heartening.”
Questioned about charges that Brzezinski was biased against the Jewish people, Schindler replied, “That is not only reckless, it is not true.” He said Brzezinski has “always been very enlightening, thoughtful and friendly.”
Schindler said the coming year would be “difficult” for Israel and the Middle East with the “political process going forward” and “decisions to be made.” He observed that the American Jewish community “can supplement the government of Israel but can’t act for it.”
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.