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President Conference Leader Urges Reagan to ‘reconsider’ Arms Sales to Saudis but Expresses Reluctan

March 20, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Howard Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called upon President Reagan to “reconsider” the “very questionable decision” to provide extra fuel tanks and Sidewinder missiles for American-made F-15s due for delivery to Saudi Arabia.

At a special meeting yesterday of the President Conference held here at the invitation extended by the Jewish Federation-Council of Greater Los Angeles, Squadron told 350 local representatives of Presidents Conference member organizations in southern California that there was “deep disappointment at the announcement that the Reagan Administration is proposing new arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

At the some time, however, Squadron said, the Presidents Conference would be reluctant to press a national campaign against the arms sale if Israeli representatives made it clear that concessions from the U.S. offsetting the arms sale were acceptable to them.

He said that “on an issue of such vital importance to Israeli security we would have to consider very seriously whether to mount a campaign against the sale, even though we strongly object to the principle that solemn assurances to the Senate made by one President (President Carter) can simply be ignored by the next President less than three years later.”

Squadron, who is also the president of the American Jewish Congress, said he had written to Reagan, asserting that such sales were “harmful to American interests, dangerous to the cause of Middle East peace and threatening to our country’s friend and fellow democracy, Israel.”


In his address, Squadron also assailed the West European “initiative” for Mideast peace which he said would “undermine the Camp David process and contribute to the delegitimization of Israel.” He urged the Reagan Administration to resume the Mideast peace talks by calling Egypt and Israel back to the negotiating table.

He added: “Western Europe’s effort, led by Britain and France, to insert itself into the Middle East peace process comes as a challenge to American leadership in the Middle East. It is also completely unacceptable to Israel. The European effort to force Israel to return to the 1967 borders, to redivide or internationalize Jerusalem, to make Israeli security dependent on foreign troops or foreign guarantees, and to bring the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization into the negotiations is an absolute copitu-

lation to the Arab world.” Squadron observed that “appeasement of Hitler did not work in the 1930s and appeasement of the Arab states will not work today. It is up to the Reagan Administration to express this position as strongly as possible to our West European allies.”

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