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International Leadership Conclave Focuses on Palestinians, the PLO

October 26, 1979
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Failure to make a distinction between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestine Arabs was cited here last night by a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a factor “in some erosion of support for past Middle East positions” even among “traditional liberal groups” in the United States. That analysis was made by Sen. Joseph Biden (D. Del.) who spoke at the opening session of an International Leadership Conference jointly sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, the Latin American Confederation of General Zionists and the Zionist Organization of Canada at the Doral Hotel. The conference, which will conclude Oct. 28, is being attended by Jewish leaders from more than 30 countries to conduct an in depth examination of the most critical issues affecting Israel and world Jewry in response to recent developments in the United States, the Middle East and the Soviet Union.

Biden told the 400 people at the opening session that the erosion of support for past Mideast positions involved changing conditions “on the domestic scene” from which U.S. Middle East policy “is not immune.” He said that “there is also genuine confusion on the part of most Americans because of their misunderstanding” of the West Bank settlement policy of Premier Menachem Begin’s government. He said “I personally stand by Prime Minister Begin’s decision in this regard.”

Declaring that “the survival of Israel is directly connected to the survival of America,” Biden said “the creation of a PLO state” in the West Bank and Gaza “is contrary to U.S. interests. As supporters of Israel we are uneasy because we have become unsure of the fundamental commitment of the American people and the lack of continuity of the Carter Administration” in its Middle East policy.

He said also that “there has been a breach among old allies — the Black and Jewish communities — and this breach runs very deep,” a reference to overtures to the PLO by some American Black leaders, including some leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which, Biden said, “is being naive about what is at stake in the Middle East.”


Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, said “the case of the Palestinians” had become “one of the greatest distortions of modern history,” a development he said stemmed from the fact that “we in Israel are responsible for not explaining properly” that case.

He said “200,000 is the maximum number of Arabs who lived on both sides of the Jordan River prior to the first wave of Jewish immigration. It was after then that Arabs from the surrounding areas came to Palestine to live. In this Palestine, the Jews now have their sovereign State, Israel, with 3,150,000 population, and the Palestinians have their state, Jordan, with 1.5 million. There is no place for a second Arab state in Palestine”

Declaring it was “truly a paradox that the Jews are always the scapegoats,” Dulzin said there were two million Arabs fighting for autonomy in Iran and asked: “Does anyone care? What about the Kurds? Did anyone care about them?” He added: “You can rest assured Israel will not be the scapegoat any more. There is complete consensus in Israel that there will be no Palestinian state, that we will not negotiate with the PLO and Jerusalem will not be divided.”

Ivan Novick, ZOA, president, said that “those who join in public criticism of Israel are in fact undermining Israel and encouraging the imposition of solutions to difficult problems by outside powers.” Urging an end to “such tactics,” Novick called “upon the American Jewish leadership assembled here to express a solid front of support for Israel.”

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