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Weinberger Says Criticism of ‘jewish Lobby’ During Awacs Debate Was Injection of an ‘ugly Tone’

November 18, 1981
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Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger described the injection of criticism of the “Jewish lobby” in the debate on the sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia as an “ugly tone” and at the same time reaffirmed President Reagan’s commitment to the State of Israel.

Weinberger also said the United States would require any proposal for peace in the Mideast to contain “explicit recognition” of Israel, although he admitted that “bits and pieces” of any proposal by Israel’s neighbors could be used to supplement the Camp David process.

“The only plan that meets this basic condition is the Camp David negotiating process,” Weinberger said, adding that the Administration “remains as committed as ever to that process.” He said that the U. S. would not be “pressured” into accepting any other approach. “I think that is something every one in the world should understand,” he said.

Weinberger’s remarks on Middle East foreign policy were part of his address to 600 people at the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith “Man of the Year Award” dinner at the Plaza Hotel here last night. It was Weinberger’s first address to a Jewish group since Senate approval last month of the $8.5 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.


Weinberger spoke after the ADL’s national director, Nathan Perlmutter, challenged “persons of high responsibility” to “categorically repudiate the injection

of anti-Semitism and its crony, dual loyalty” into the Middle East debate. Perlmutter suggested this should be done just as former President Dwight Eisenhower publicly denounced “McCarthyism.”

Perlmutter said in his opening remarks that Eisenhower’s denunciation has dealt McCarthyism “a severe blow from which it never recovered.”

“The President scored for Americanism, scored against bigotry,” Perlmutter said. “I commend his example for emulation today.”

“Let me say quickly but firmly: a vote against AWACS and enhancements was no less an expression of Americanism than a vote for the AWACS. And a vote for AWACS and enhancements had no more resonance as being anti-Israel or anti-Jewish than a vote against the package,” the ADL leader declared.

He continued, “What disturbed us, however, was the injection into the debate of non-relevant, even mean-spirited innuendo. When a former President of the United States,” a reference to former President Richard Nixon, attributes opposition to the Prime Minister (of Israel) and American Jews, “this tack, plainly said, pulls the cork, lets loose the genie of anti-Semitism, its crony, ‘dual loyalty.'”


Declaring that a speech to a Jewish group on Israel-U. S. relations demanded “special seriousness at this time,” Weinberger emphasized that the two nations’ long-term friendship was based on “shared values.” He said that when these values are called into question, it does not mean a change in U. S. policy. He noted that there was room for disagreements, “but it is not the sign of any policy reversal.”

The Defense Secretary said that just as “explicit recognition” of Israel was part of the Administration’s policy so, too, was the issue of Israel’s “non-negotiable security.” The Administration, Weinberger said, would not embark on any actions in the Mideast that risk the security of Israel or its capacity for self-defense.

But he added that U. S. attempts “to break out of the stalemate” in the Mideast may require the U. S. and its allies to take risks. He did not say what risks U. S. allies in the region would have to take.

Weinberger said it is important for the Israelis to understand this position as to avoid any “drastic action” by the Jewish State. He said this also holds true to other U. S. allies in the Mideast. Weinberger concluded by citing Reagan as an “underestimated” man, who holds a deep “emotional commitment” and desire for peace.

At the dinner, Sanford Weill, chairman of the board of Shearson/American Express Inc. was presented with the ADL’s “Man of the Year Award” for his “contributions to democratic institutions and his advancement of the ideals of justice and equality,”

Former President Gerald Ford, honorary chairman of the event, attended by corporate and community leaders, praised the work of the ADL and said that on any rating scale, the ADL “scores very high on the ladder of success.”

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