A leading Palestine Liberation Organization propagandist, Dr. M.T. Mehdi of New York City, is campaigning in Idaho and Oregon to block the reelection of two U.S. Senators who support friendly relations with Israel. In turn, the two legislators, Sen. Frank Church (D. Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Bob Packwood (R. Ore.), have hit back at his tactics.
Mehdi, who is understood to be of Iraqi origin, has identified himself as secretary general of Arab People to America. His tactics against Church and Packwood, among the most articulate supporters of Israel in Congress, include advertisements in newspapers in the two states urging opposition to “all American military aid to Israel and the Arab states.” He also suggests that the Arab states would boycott wheat from Idaho. To avoid charges that he is interfering in American elections, Mehdi masks his propaganda by claiming that he is conducting an “educational campaign,” the Senator’s aides have noted.
Characterizing Mehdi’s statements as “nonsense,” Church’s office here said “Israel and Egypt are our two strongest allies in the Middle East. That’s why we support them. If we don’t, we leave a vacuum to be filled by radical Arab states — Syria, Iraq, Libya — which are already armed to the teeth by the Soviet Union.”
Idaho mainly produces soft white wheat which is chiefly exported to the Far East. Libya, which helps bankroll the PLO, seeks hard winter wheat available in the Midwest. Besides, the cost of transporting the grain to the Mideast is much less from the Midwestern states.
Packwood’s office said “Dr. Mehdi has been a front for the PLO for almost 15 years” and described him as “a supporter of terrorism, a supporter of hijacking of airplanes.” It quoted Packwood as saying: “As for as support of Israel is concerned, I intend to continue it. They are a great ally. They are a democracy. I wish we had a dozen more allies like Israel around the world. I’d feel a lot safer.”
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.