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Haig Reportedly Tells Jewish Leaders He Questions Wisdom of Jewish Public Criticism of Israel

November 9, 1981
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Secretary of State Alexander Haig told a group of Jewish leaders in Washington Wednesday that some of the sharpest criticisms of Israel’s alleged inflexibility in peace negotiations have come from his Jewish friends, adding he did not accept such criticism and “I do not join it,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned Friday.

He also told the Jewish leaders that he had told Lord Carrington, British Foreign Secretary and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC), that Carrington’s endorsement of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Fahd’s eight-point “peace proposal” was irresponsible.

Haig met at the State Department with the Jewish leaders just after a meeting with Sir Nicholas Henderson, the British Ambassador to the United States. The Jewish leaders were participants in a United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies Presidents Invitational Mission to Washington.

The meeting was closed to the press but the content of a transcript prepared by a State Department stenographer became known. According to that information, Haig made his comments to Sir Nicholas to transmit to Lord Carrington, who returned to London Thursday from a two-day visit to Riyadh.

(In Washington, Alan Romberg, the State Department Deputy spokesman, declined to comment on the report that Haig had criticized Lord Carrington for his comments in Riyadh attacking the Camp David process. Romberg said Haig had understood he was not speaking for publication.)

Declaring that he recognized that Israel took the greatest risk for peace, particularly “in the person of Menachem Begin,” Haig told the Jewish leaders he was not sure what useful purpose was served by Jews publicly criticizing Israeli policies. He said he thought such public criticisms created a perception that he felt was “unfortunate.”

Haig said he had told Carrington, through the British envoy, that “it is one thing for a fellow to sit on the sidelines and indulge in theology and to establish goals that represent the perfect in contrast to the good and achievable and the pragmatically desirable.”

Haig also said, “It is another thing to have the responsibility to do it. It is a very luxurious position for our European friends to be in. They can make their own observations without responsibility for the consequences. There are indirect consequences. They are very severe in Israel today.” Haig said he had urged Lord Carrington “to cool it.”

“And I would suspect that if Mr. Carrington had to carry the burden of President Reagan of being held responsible in practical terms by international world opinion of the outcome of this very difficult situation, that he might be more circumspect with his adjectival pronouncements.”

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