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Z. O. A. Convention Asks U.S. Arms for Israel; Urges Mutual Security Pact

October 8, 1956
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The Zionist Organization of America today concluded its four-day annual convention here with a resolution calling on the United States not only to provide arms to Israel, but to give rather than sell such arms. The resolution also called for a mutual security treaty between the United States and Israel.

“As a firm ally of the West, Israel should not be called upon to impose a further strain on her economy in order to acquire these arms, but should receive such military aid and expanded economic assistance as a part of our program for mutual defense,” the resolution stated.

The ZOA voiced” grave concern” over the steady deterioration of the American position in the Middle East. “We regard the severe political and diplomatic defeats suffered there by our country and by Western interests generally as the inevitable outcome of our government’s policy of recent years, which was conceived in the mistaken belief that Arab friendship can be won by long discredited methods of appeasement,” the resolution said.

“We profoundly regret that the many warnings. . . were disregarded by our Department of State, and that these warnings should have been so fully and tragically vindicated by the behavior of the Arab states, culminating in Egypt’s seizure of the Suez Canal,” the resolution continued. Taking note of “the total collapse” of U. S. policy, the ZOA said: “We urge our government to act speedily and decisively to strengthen the American position by full and forthright support of Israel’s defense.”

The resolution welcomed “the Democratic Party’s unequivocal call for the supply of defensive arms to Israel and the Republican Party’s firm pledge to stand by Israel against armed aggression.” It expressed commendation of France and Canada for selling jet planes to Israel.

“We have noted with satisfaction the statements of the President and Secretary of State upholding Israel’s rights of passage through the Suez Canal and call upon our government to insist that these rights are assured in any settlement of the Suez conflict with Egypt,” the resolution stated.


Dr. Emanuel Neumann; member of the Jewish Agency executive, was elected president of the Zionist Organization of America at the closing session of the convention. In an address delivered last night prior to his election, Dr. Neumann reaffirmed the nonpartisan political character of the ZOA. “We do not seek the triumph or defeat of any party,” he declared.

At the same time, Dr. Neumann criticized United States foreign policy in the Middle East, saying it has not only been a failure, but that there were disquieting signs that the lesson has not yet been learned and no genuine change of policy has taken place, “It should be understood that such criticism as we are impelled to voice is motivated by deep and sincere concern for the national interest and wholly devoid of partisan consideration,” he emphasized. He charged “we have in fact already capitulated to Nasser though the public is not fully aware of it.”

Dr. Neumann said Nasser was getting away with his “humiliation of the United States and our allies. Our diplomats are now hunting a face-saving formula–a plausible fig leaf to cover the nakedness of their defeat,” He cited four “cardinal blunders” which he said had been committed in official U. S. policy: encouragement of ambitions of Arab dictators; urging Britain to surrender Suez; promoting the Baghdad Pact which undermined rather than increased Western strength in the Near East, and refused defensive arms to Israel.


Vice President Richard M. Nixon, addressing the ZOA convention, said with reference to Israel; “I know you will agree with me that for this issue to become a partisan one in the heat of a political campaign will serve neither the interests of Israel nor the United States” He expressed America’s interest in Arab-Israel peace, said America had worked to achieve it, and assured the delegates that “this Administration will continue. to have as one of its top priority objectives the promotion of a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

He quoted from the 1956 Republican platform: “We regard the preservation of Israel as an important tenet of American policy. . . we shall support the independence of Israel against armed aggression,” and added: “The Democratic platform also contains a strong statement on this issue. But while the platforms differ in wording they are based on the same sound principle–that the preservation of the independence of Israel is in the best interests of the United States as well as of Israel. And in the final analysis, in the best interests of world peace itself.” At this point he called for agreement that the Israel issue not be made “a partisan one in the heat of a political campaign”

Mr. Nixon cited an April 9 statement by President Eisenhower pledging that “the United States, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations, will observe its commitments within constitutional means to oppose any aggression in the area.” He reviewed U. S. economic assistance to Israel and said Israel knows “that no nation can be truly secure without a sound development and progress in the economic field.

Mr. Nixon told the convention that close ties by Americans with friends abroad “in no sense detract from our obligations and responsibilities as Americans.” He said such friendship served “to strengthen the national endeavor to achieve a lasting peace all over the world. In this broad context, the efforts of the Zionist Organization of America to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between the people of the United States and Israel are deserving of support–and–it is in this spirit that I convey the warmest greetings of the government of the United States to this convention.


Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency, told the ZOA convention that the United States should accept no Suez accord at the United Nations which does not “include provision for safe passage (through the Suez Canal) for the commerce of Israel on an equal basis with all other nations of the world.” he reiterated his position favoring the provision of arms by the United States to Israel. He said he was glad he belongs to a political party “which is in full agreement with my stand

“The Suez crisis ought never to have taken place,” he said. He charged that “our present leaders insisted that the British leave Suez without obtaining an agreement which would have halted the embargo against Israel.” He called Israel “a beacon of democracy in the Middle East” which lights the path to the future for that poverty-stricken area. “A policy that allows that light of hope to be snuffed out is not a policy that will serve our ideals or our interests,” he declared.

Israel Ambassador Abba Eban said that “nothing could be less accurate or less useful than to proclaim our alleged ‘weakness’ or ‘isolation’ to the ears of the world.” He indicated that Israel has grow in military strength. “While a task such as this is never completed with finality, we owe appreciation to the friendly governments whose decisions, authorizations, or influence have contributed to the reinforcement of our strength and spirit,” he said.

“While it is true that Israel faces greater dangers than even before it is also true that we face them from a position of growing strength and confidence,” he stated, Referring other. Suez issue now before the United Nations, Mr. Eban reported; “I find welcome sympathy for the soundness and justice of our case in favor of free navigation in this great international waterway. But it is one thing to recognize an abuse. It is another thing to remove it. The grave question is whether the maritime powers will actually move in effective concert to eliminate what an eminent personality rightly called ‘a black mark’ on Egypt’s record.”

Ambassador Eban said Israel’s economy “has been subjected to heavy strain by the welcome renewal of immigration and, above all, by the exigent claims of defensive preparedness. The need to strengthen our economic and financial capacity now moves into the first place in our sequence of national priorities.”

Other speakers at the convention included Mortimer May, outgoing ZOA president, Irving Miller, chairman of the American Zionist Council, Leon Dultzin, member of the Jewish Agency executive, Dr. Harris J. Levine, president of the Jewish National Fund of America; Jacques Torczyner, Mendel Fischer, Rabbi Leon Feuer, Rabbi Max. Nussbaum, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, and others.

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