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Special Interview Threat of Petrodiplomacy

July 18, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Nathan Perlmutter, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, believes that the greatest threat to the Jewish people today is the increasing influence of Arab petrodollar diplomacy.

The world is much more complicated than when the ADL was combatting such homegrown anti-Semites as Gerald L.K. Smith and other racists in the 1940s and 1950s, he said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The interview was conducted in his office on the top floor of the ADL’s new headquarters overlooking the United Nations, “our enemy,” as Perlmutter called it.

The “Zionism is Racism” resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1975 has made anti-Semitism more open in Europe, Perlmutter said. But he believes that more important is the growing Arab use of oil diplomacy which is making the Jewish people “hostage to the price of oil.”

Perlmutter said it is for this reason the ADL is opening a European office in Paris. The office will be in the job of “consciousness raising” among European Jews, alerting them and helping them to meet this new danger, he said.

The 56-year-old Perlmutter and other ADL officials recently returned from Brussels where they held a one-day meeting on petrodollars and other issues, at which former Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Gen. Alexander Haig, Supreme Commander of NATO, participated. The Brussels meeting, which was to mark the opening of the European office, was sandwiched between the ADL’s National Commission meeting in Jerusalem and an audience with Pope John Paul II where they received the Pope’s blessing for a joint program with the Polish-American Catholic Committee honoring Janusz Korczak, the Polish-Jewish martyr who died in Treblinka.


Perlmutter, a 30-year veteran of the human relations field who was named ADL national director last November, said Jews have to become aware of the impact of petrodiplomacy. He said the situation was analyzed in Brussels but it was dramatized to him upon his return to New York.

When he returned, he saw a newspaper story that 100 members of the Japanese Parliament had called for support of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The next day it was reported that Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, “no friend,” and former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, “an old friend, ” had met with PLO leader Yasir Arafat, ” the single most murderous anti-Semite in the world today. ” This was followed by a report that President Carter had asked West German Chancellor Helmut. Schmidt to lead European pressure against Israel. This was evidence to him of the power of petrodiplomacy.

Perlmutter noted that Jews are always concerned about the security of Israel. But now this concern will come up against the desire of some in the West to appease the Arab oil producers, he said.

He pointed out that Americans as a whole have not blamed Israel or Jews for the gas lines. They blamed the oil companies or the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). But Perlmutter said a situation could arise where due to the influence of Arab propaganda, Americans could begin calling for a “PLO state” as a means of assuring a steady supply of oil, as some in Europe are already doing.

This is why, Perlmutter said, American Jews must support efforts to conserve energy, to find additional oil and to use other sources of energy, develop synthetic oil and take other steps so the West does not become “hostage to the endless greed of the oil sheikhs.” American Jews should be urging the President, their Senators and their Congressmen to take this action, Perlmutter declared.

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