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Washington Jewish Parley Urges Direct Israel-arab-u.s. Talks

March 7, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A five-point program for “the attainment of peace, development and defense in the Near East” that “would faithfully serve and the highest interests of the security and welfare of the security and welfare of the peoples of the United States and the free world” was adopted here today at the concluding session of the two-day conference of 16 national organizations, which was the largest and most widely representative gathering of American Jewish leadership in many years.

The resolution was at variance with the views of the State Department on Israel’s role in the Middle East defense plans as presented to the conference today by John D. Jernegan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. The five-point program of the conference which was opened last night–and which heard Dr. Nahum Goldmann charge that American’s exclusion of Israel from Middle East defense arrangements was “self-defeating”–called for:

1. A determined effort to bring about direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab countries and the United States, looking towards a peaceful settlement.

2. The suspension of arms shipments to the Near East in the absence of Arab-Israel peace, particularly in view of the fact that arms are not being given to Israel.

3. The inclusion of Israel in any defense arrangement for the region.

4. Continued economic and technical assistance to Israel and the Arab peoples, to raise living standards, facilitate the resettlement of refugees and strengthen and a stabilize democratic institutions.

5. The conference pledged to “continue to promote friendship between our democracy and the democracy of Israel.”


Mr. Jernegan today told the conference that he does “not see evidence of any intent on the part of her neighbors to attack Israel.”

He said “Israel as a nation is not in danger, except to the extent that all other states in the Near East are in danger from the common threat of outside aggression. Israel is, in the fact, in less danger than some others of those states. She is not directly in the path of possible Soviet aggression, as are those states which Secretary Dulles has called the “Ncrthern tier.'” Mr. Jernegan said Israel has a highly developed military establishment and enjoys the advantage of holding interior lines.

He cited Israel’s willingness and desire to join Middle Eastern defense and said, “it would seem highly logical that Israel should be incorporated in a collective defense arrangement at an early date. But there are other facts that must be considered…relations between Israel and her neighbors are anything but good…so long as such circumstances prevail, there are lacking the necessary foundations for political cooperation between Israel and those states, with which her defense must be linked in the long run. In the absence of political cooperation it is, of course, out of the question to make plans involving military cooperation, between Israeli forces and those of her immediate neighbors.”

Mr. Jernegan said that the United States Government was gravely concerned over Arab-Israel friction and that the hope of reducing tension is “never out of our minds.” He added: “We understand the anxiety felt by the people and the Government of Israel at their continued isolation in the area of which they are a part. We are doing our best to improve relations. It must be realized that this is complicated by the fact that Israel’s neighbors are themselves afraid of aggression on the part of Israel. Every act of violence across the frontiers is a setback to progress.”


George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told the conference last night that he hoped a propitious occasion would soon arise on which Secretary of State John Foster Dulles would be in a position to make a declarative statement on the re-examination of American policy in the Near East. He said the Secretary had been giving the matter earnest attention and would continue his re-examination.

Mr. Allen said the “United States has not and will not grant military aid to any country which, in the government’s opinion, is likely to use the aid in any aggressive manner.” He said “this applies specifically to both Iraq and Pakistan,” Mr. Allen said he was not in a position to make a basic statement on foreign policy, but came to the meeting to hear the views of the participants.

Ambassador Abba S. Eban, referring indirectly to the Gaza incident, enumerated the many recent Egyptian transgressions against Israel and said “the issue is whether Egypt may declare a state of war, pursue acts of war, and herself be immune from any defensive response, even in a clash which she herself begins.” He defined the Egyptian attitude as: “Egypt shall behave towards Israel as though there is war. Israel must behave towards Egypt as though there is peace.”


Mr. Eban said that American-Israel friendship continues to be Israel’s “strongest reliance,” and that “it is important that any specific divergence should not be generalized into a false assumption of sundered friendship.” He insisted, however, that “assurances from Western sources that Israel’s security is not threatened are neither thoughtful nor prudent.” He said the network of defense arrangements in the Near East from which Israel is excluded presents “a disquieting picture of imbalance and discrimination,” although there was not “any fixed design in this discrimination.” He said that in Turkish-Iraqi pact there were at least three points that placed Israel’s interests in jeopardy.

Levi Eshkol, Israel Finance Minister, told the conference that in spite of Arab boycott and blockade, “Israel has progressed steadily towards an improved balance of trade; has gathered strength in the field of foreign currency, has raised the figures of production of goods and services, and has largely succeed in stabilizing both its currency and its price structure.” Mr. Eshkol attributed those gains in a large measure to U.S. economic and technical aid, private investments, U.J.A. support, bond sales and the German reparations pact.

Other speakers included Norman S. Paul, Near Eastern regional director of the Foreign Operations Administration; Mrs. Rose Halprin, member of the Jewish Agency executive; Dr. Maurice Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; A Adolph Held, chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee; Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, chairman of the American Zionists Committee for Public Affairs.

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