2 Friday, November 6, 1981
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
The Human Factor in the Debate Over Massive Arms
Sales and the Manner in Which Disagreements Demand
Respect for Opposition, Devoid of Threats, Innuendo
After AWACS: Recapitulating the Sad Part of an Accumulated Blunder That Reeked With Hatreds
Anti-Climax is the description due for whatever may now be said about the debate
over AWACS, the conflicting attitudes, the editorialized viewpoints.
Whatever is said now may already have been uttered and surely could have been said
prior to the triumphant vote in the U.S. Senate upholding the Reagan policy on Saudi
Arabia. Only one voice could add a ray of light to the issue that was filled with so much
dynamite and all-too-many threats: if from Riyadh there could be a voice declaring that
the Saudis now preach Salaam, not Jihad. Nothing else matters.
The poison on the American scene is the chief issue in whatever summation may be
sought in the aftermath of the great debate. The "warnings" of an emerging anti-
Semitism, the resort to the old cliche of "Jewish money in politics," utilization of
Menahem Begin as the chief scapegoat in the disputed proposal of massive arms sales —
these are the repetitions of Jewish experience that had their roles appended to AWACS.
It has not been emphasized sufficiently that it was not AWACS alone that mattered,
that at issue was an arms deal so immense that it staggered the imagination.
The arms now to be supplied to Saudi 'Arabia include every imaginable piece of
military hardware made available by the Merchants of Destructive Weapons.
The pacifists were silent. Where were the voices of those who should have renewed
the demand for an end to arms completions, for an emphasis on peace rather than the
need for destructive weapons for security purposes. But the ruling factor is the Prophetic:
- Peace, peace, and there is no peace!" Therefore, the arms deals become necessities, and
in the process of bidding for them there is a decline in human values.
This is what has happened: Jews were threatened with anti-Semitism, the country
was told the President can't be wrong, the Constitution, which gives the Senate the power
to overrule a President in matters of principle, was ignored.
Would that the President were always right, that there should never be an occasion
to differ with him! Who can predict such an eventuality for the democratic way of life for
this nation, for the free peoples of the world?
('an this ever be a debatable subject? Only those who advocate return to imperialistic
monarchism will endorse it. Else, there must be an adherence to the right to differ, and if
ever this is denied toward the Presidency of the United States, woe unto the freedom of
There is much to deplore in the experiences of the last few weeks. Not only the threat
to Jews of a re-emerging anti-Semitism, but the manner in which it was shouted, the
resort to the "Jewish money" argument, which was in reality an insult to many of the
leading legislators in the land who were accused of having been subjected to the power of
the -Jewish dollar"; the insults that were heaped upon Israel's prime minister, who, with
his associates in the Israel government, really muted the issue in its lasting stages; the
way Israel and Jewish protestors to the AWACS deal were portrayed — they spell
collectively a tragic note for this chapter in American history.
The dispute was sullied at the outset when it was described as Carterism Without
Carter. It developed into a Carterism WITH Carter. Then came the combined Nixon-
Carter-Ford fiasco, three men who should dignify diplomacy and instead polluted
.statesmanship. That was among the ugliest portions of the debate that was mislabeled
AWACS and turned into a PLO ploy.
The tragedy is in the vitriolic manner in which editorials treated the debate and the
differing views, the form that cartoons took, the portrayals that almost echoed
Streicherism from the Munich of Nazi days. This was deplorable. It was not the total
picture, but it existed. The cartoon has a greater power in formulating public opinion
than the editorial, than even the editorial writer, and some of the distortions by car-
toonists caused sadness in the ranks of those who debated an issue on principle. Perhaps
future debates like the one that ended in the U.S. Senate on Oct. 28 can be avoided.
The experiences were labeled with the misnomer AWACS, when they should have
been described as massive sale of arms to a country that speaks of Holy War — Jihad!
There were editorial opinions to be admired — those in the Wall Street Journal, New
York Times, Detroit Free Press, the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, a number of others, who gave
comfort to free discussion. There were the many who favored the massive arms sale and
they did it with dignity. It is when some columnists resorted to Streicher-like hatreds, as
some did, that the issue was muddied and forced into inhuman indecencies.
A lot of respect is due the U.S. legislators who treated the matter with respect,
staying within the limits of correct and statesmanlike application to a serious matter.
There were, however, many suspicions. There is, for example, this one, which was
part of the column by William Safire; - in the New York Times, Oct. 15, in. the essay
entitled "A Stalwart's Lament":
Worse still for our morale is the spectacle of Walter Mondale, who as
Jimmy Carter's Vice President twisted Sen. Muriel Humphrey's arm until
she voted for the sale of F-15s to the Saudis, now posing as a great defender
of Israel by denouncing Mr. Reagan for following Mr. Carter's custom of
acceding to Arab wish lists.
Mondale repudiates this accusation, yet the emergence of suspicion does re-
mind one of the admonition by the Psalmist, "Place not your trust in princes . . ."
Yet, there is trust in princes, else there would not be 48 U.S. Senators' to act
independently, to voice opinions on a disputed issue, to differ even with the President of
the United States.
A sad experience is being recorded in American history. It was not the first conflict-
ing experience for those concerned with the problematic in the Middle East and in
American political conflicts; it won't be the last.
Learning from experience, the hope is that differences of views will always be
respected and they will never be marred by innuendos and threats. Peace and good will
must prevail, so that mankind may feel free to battle for what is right.
Perhaps There Is Hope for Moderation
in a Calmed Message froM Saudi Arabia
Never abandoning hope, perhaps there is, after all, a measure of hope for "modera-
tion" in Arab ranks, even if the term must be used in quotes.
A report in the New York Times from a correspondent in Beirut speaks of the Saudis
urging their coreligionists not to be too harsh on the new Egyptian head of state,
President Hosni Mubarak. The NYTimes story, which was published on the day after the
Reagan triumph in the U.S. Senate, follows:
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 28 — Saudi Arabia, in an apparent appeal for
Arab reconciliation with Egypt, has urged Arab countries to refrain from
pressing the new Egyptian president to abrogate the peace treaty with
The Riyadh radio said today that a front-page editorial in the
government-controlled newspaper Al Madina of Jidda praised President
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt yesterday as a leader with "!a clean Arab record." .
The radio said the editorial urged Arab countries to give him a year "to
put the Egyptian house in order" after the assassination of President
Anwar el-Sadat. It was the first time a Saudi newspaper had spoken favor-
ably of Egypt since the Arab countries broke relations with Egypt in 1979
after the signing of the Israeli peace treaty.
The editorial in Al Madina said:
"We do not and must not expect President Mubarak to abrogate the
Camp David agreements at this time for a number of reasons that are
understood by those acquainted with international convention."
The editorial was viewed by diplomats as further evidence of a desire
by conservative Arab countries to re-establish relations with Egypt. The
press in Kuwait has expressed similar views.
The Kuwait daily Al Siyasa, for example, said that pressure on Mr.
Mubarak to renege on the peace treaty could be used by Israel as an excuse
not to complete its withdrawal from Sinai.
The Saudis, it will be recalled, were given credit by President Reagan for
having engineered the Lebanese cease-fire in the warfare between Israel, the PLO and
the Syrians. Now this is drawn upon as a signal that Saudi Arabia can be a factor for
peace. With the return of Philip Habib for negotiations there, there is that increasing
measure of hope that the Camp David accords will gain support from more Arab quarters.
Incidentally, the reactions in Israel to the U.S. Senate vote merits attention. There
was a bitter feeling, but Prime Minister Menahem Begin admonished the embittered
that this is not a time to be broiges, a most welcome Yiddishized Hebraism for anger.
Here is hoping again there will be no need to be broiges.
`Assassination or Execution?': With Mehdi Illusion What Hope Is There for True Moderation Among Arabs?
When a Ford Hospital - scribing himself as "Ford
■ Detroit) medical research
Hospital Research," wrote:
staff member saw fit last
"Please forgive Dr. A.
February to write to this
Khalifa. He cannot write
and probably cannot read."
in behalf of his Arab com-
( See The Jewish News,
patriots another Holocaust
for Jews, a repudiation was
March 6 and March 20,
elicited from Dr. M.T.
Mehdi, president of the
Now, this very Dr.
American Arab Relations
Mehdi, who in the March
20 issue was identified as
The reason your commen-
"secretary general of
tator contacted Dr. Mehdi
Arab people to American
was that only a matter of people," is responsible
days before the hateful let-
for a letter which ap-
ter arrived from the Ford
peared in the New York
Hospital scientist, Dr.
Times, Oct. 30, giving the
Mehdi was the only Arab
radical Arab view of why
spokesman to have ex-
Anwar Sadat had to be
"removed" as president
with his confreres having
resorted to the vilest anti-
Let there be a platform for
Semitic attacks on the
Dr. Mehdi, in the interest of
Jewish people in speeches at
truth, fairness, the search
the United Nations General
for justice and the pur-
suance of the commonest of
Dr. Mehdi, commenting decencies in human rela-
on the scurrillous letter tions.
Dr. Mehdi was a party to a
from Dr. A. Khalifa, de-
Detroit dispute involving a
depraved compatriot who
dared threaten Jewry with
another Holocaust. He chat-
ted with the commentator
some time after the March
exchange, suggesting con-
ferring on the issues. Then
came the recent NYTimes
self-expose in which he ap-
pears as an applauder of the
jubilation over the assassi-
nation of Anwar Sadat. He
suggests it was an execu-
tion, contrary to the recog-
nition that had been given
to a man who abandoned all
previous hatreds and dared
a trip to Jerusalem in the
search for peace. Sadat's
trip was so revolutionary an
act that it earned worldwide
applause. Not from the
Arab spokesman Dr. Mehdi,
just as it did not invite
recognition from the PLO
and Arafat; just as they con-
tinue to brand Camp David
There was hope for the
emergence of a moderate to
encourage peace. The de-
cent folk in mankind craved
and prayed for it.
For a fleeting moment
it seemed as if Dr. Mehdi
was the messenger for
peace from his compat-
The disappointment is
great. But the delusions are
unlimited. Even the White
House is falling into traps
— constantly, as the State
Department surely has. The
latest instance is that of the
misleading proposals from
the Saudis, whose purpose
continues to be the dismem-
berment of Israel.
There should be gratitude
to Dr. Mehdi for what he
had written. At least he
doesn't hide being a menace
to Israel's existence. His let-
ter to the New York Times
"The American news
media, including the Times,
have not provided an an-
swer to the question: Was
President Sadat 'assassi-
nated' on Oct. 6, as the
Western press refers to the
bloody event of that day, or
was he 'executed," as the
Arab press refers to Sadat's
"Nor has there been
American press as to why
Sadat, a charming person
on American TV and an
advocate of 'peace' loved
by millions of Americans,
was so despised at home
by his own people and by
more than a billion Arabs
To understand Arab feel-
ing, imagine, if you can, the
American President after
Pearl Harbor flying to
Tokyo to make peace with
Japan and offering Canada
to the Japanese rulers in
payment for peace—all this
without the .knowledge of
the American people or the
consent of the people of
Canada but in the interest
"Of course, no American
President would ever dare
to so violate the public trust.
An Egyptian pharaoh could.
President Sadat did exactly
that by flying to Jerusalem
and offering Palestine to the
Israelis, without the con-
sent of the Palestinians or
even the knowledge of his
"Mohammed Anwar el-
Sadat was, therefore, an ex-
traordinary despot. In the
20th Century, he was acting
as the pharoahs did in the
"Sadat was a strange
experience in the recent
history of the world. Born
in an authoritarian fam-
ily and society, he
changed roles from an
Arab nationalist to a
pro-fascist, from a mili-
tary man to the top civi-
lian post in his country.
(Continued on Page 5)