1967 Israeli-Arab Six Day war:
Senator William Fulbright: Jews Control the Senate
June 9, 1967
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1967 Israeli-Arab Six Day war:
Senator William Fulbright asserts that the Jews Control the Senate
This excerpt of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting of June 9, 1967, sheds interesting light on the attitude of Chairman William Fulbright and Senator Hickenlooper. The discussion was no doubt colored by bitterness over Israeli sinking of the Liberty on June 8, but was ostensibly about the discovery, by the American policy makers, that they had little or no leverage on Israel:
Israel had purchased most of its arms from France, because the US would not supply arms to Israel and refused most requests. Germany, as the hearings reveal elsewhere, had supplied Israel with some equipment, including about 60 M-48 Patton tanks (the number is exaggerated by some sources, but that is the figure given in the committee hearings). The tanks were being converted to diesel fuel at the time of the war, and were mostly out of service. Israel had asked for M-48 tanks to "replace" those tanks (they asked for a hundred tanks to replace 60 apparently) but the US refused.
The senators, and apparently Secretary of State Rusk, were perhaps ignorant of the fact that United Jewish Appeal contributions and other donations were used for reforestation, road building, building of the Hebrew University, building and equipping of hospitals and other such civilian projects. Arms were financed from taxes and long term loans. Without the charitable donations, Israel would still have borrowed money to buy armaments. The crucial part of the dialog between Chairman Fulbright, and Senator Symington, who apparently could not believe his ears:
The introduction above is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is in the public domain. It was declassified by the United States government under the Freedom of Information act and is posted at: http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2007_hr/1967executive.html.Please cite the sources.
SOURCES OF ISRAELI ARMS
Secretary Rusk. Yes?
Senator Symington [continuing]. We have been running hearings for a good many weeks, and we would have had one yesterday with Mr. Kitchen except for this.
It is a fact, is it not, that neither Soviet Russia nor the United States has given any material amounts of arms to Israel, and, if that is true, are they not relatively independent in their thinking at this point?
Secretary Rusk. No, we have provided tanks and Hawk missiles and certain other kinds of equipment to Israel, but their principal arms supplier has been France. And I am assuming that France, Britain, the Soviet Union, ourselves, would have to be involved in any discussion on this subject.
The Israeli air force is almost all French supplied.
Well, there is another element, if we could inject something on that into a final settlement it would be helpful.
The tragedy of the refugee problem is that some of us are convinced that there is a practical solution which would be acceptable to both sides, but which in theory is unacceptable to both sides. What I mean by that is that if you could get each refugee into the privacy of a confessional booth and let him make a personal and secret judgment as to where he wants to live, many of us believe, are convinced, that their own personal and secret choices would produce a practical result which Israel could accept.
I mean if the gentlemen around this table were Palestine refugees, would you all want to live in Israel? I doubt you would. But if one out of ten wanted to live in Israel, we could persuade Israel, I think, to accept that number, and we could find compensation and resettlement for those who are wanting to live in other places.
What has stood in the way of that, and we have tried this several times, is the political fact that if you have a
Israel can take 150,000, 200,000, but they are not going to take a million.
But Arabs insist as a matter of principle a million must have a chance to opt to go to Israel.
Now, it may be out of this will come some settlement of that problem.
I heard one report out of Tel Aviv that the Israelis are thinking about insisting that the West Bank of the Jordan be an autonomous province of Jordan and the home for the refugees. Well, that will not settle the problem politically entirely, but some fresh thought can be----
Senator Hickenlooper. It would be another Gaza Strip, would it not?
Secretary Rusk. It would tend to be if they go there simply as a way station on the way back to Israel, rather than accept it genuinely as a final solution.
Senator Symington. Could I ask one question here? Secretary Rusk. Yes, sir, Senator.
Secretary Rusk. We have some limited leverage on them. I told the committee earlier that we felt we had a commitment from them that they would not move during this time period in which they did move.
Now, the situation on the Egyptian side built up in such a way that it put great pressure upon the Israeli Government, and I have no doubt that on the day they decided to shoot the works that they felt that they were in danger of an imminent attack, based upon information that they thought they had in front of them.
But I think the real pressures on them, Senator, are going to be the necessity for their finding some way to live with these now hundred million, soon to be 200 million, Arabs, because if they try to remain a little armed camp there forever in a sea of bitter hostility, they have got some major problems for their own long-term survival.
There is one problem, it seems to me, about which we can have a say, and that is continued subsidization of this refugee camp. I went there ten years ago and found it an impossible situation in which they have continued all the while to feed and clothe, support those people, and there are some 200,000 more than when they went into the camp. So surely we can have something to say about no longer continuing to subsidize this.
Secretary Rusk. Well, that constitutes some pressure on the Arabs. It does not constitute any pressure on Israel.
Senator Gore. Well, Israel has taken over some of them, in the Gaza Strip and also in Jordan. They are now claiming sovereignty. So it seems to me it might be a pressure on both.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I do think that the refugee matter should be raised and looked at wholly anew in connection with a settlement of this present situation.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I do not want to underestimate influence in this situation, but I just want to point out that
Senator Hickenlooper. Do we not give tax forgiveness for moneys contributed to Israel, which is rather unusual? We could stop that.
Secretary Rusk. I believe contributions to the UJA are tax exempt, yes.
The Chairman. That is right.
The only country. Do you think you have the votes in the Senate to revoke that?
Senator Case. Are you in favor yourself? Senator Hickenlooper. I think we ought to treat all nations alike.
Senator Case. That is correct. But are you in favor of it?
Senator Hickenlooper. As long as we do not give it to other nations, I do not----
The Chairman. The trouble is they think they have control of the Senate and they can do as they please.
Senator Symington. What was that?
The Chairman. I said they know they have control of the Senate politically, and therefore whatever the Secretary tells them, they can laugh at him. They say, ``Yes, but you don't control the Senate.''
Senator Symington. They were very anxious to get every Senator they could to come out and say we ought to act unilaterally, and they got two, three.
The Chairman. They know when the chips are down you can no more reverse this tax exemption than you can fly. You could not pass a bill through the Senate.
Senator Hickenlooper. I do not think you could.
The Chairman. Changing that tax exemption contribution to the UJA. I would bet you ten to one you could not begin to pass a bill. You do not believe they could under any circumstances.
Senator Symington. A bill to do what?
The Chairman. To revoke the tax exemption of gifts to the UJA. That is one of their major sources of income. You yourself have pointed out the money they paid for the French arms they got from the U.S.
Senator Symington. Each year the money we give annually for this is less than 1 percent of the cost of Vietnam. The Chairman. I agree with that.
Senator Hickenlooper. There you go.
U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS PAY THE ISRAELI ARMS
The Chairman. But you know very well, you said yourself, that the arms they buy from France are largely paid for by contributions that come from this country.
Senator Symington. Because we would not sell it to them, so instead of selling them the arms----
Senator Gore. Has the President recommended that this be repealed?
The Chairman. No, he has not. I do not wish to make the point except the Secretary is quite correct when he says his leverage on Israel is very limited because of the political situation.
Senator Hickenlooper. I am sorry I brought it up.
Secretary Rusk. I did not say it.
The Chairman. If you did not say it, you do not disagree with it anyway.
Secretary Rusk. I think it should be pointed out though on this tax exempt matter that there are many other organizations, institutions, that would fall into the same principle, private foundations in their expenditures abroad, churches, the voluntary agencies; there are very large sums of money going to foreign countries that are tax exempt in this country as the origin.
Senator Hickenlooper. I do not think it is analogous. Senator Gore. It is tax deductible; you said tax exempt. Secretary Rusk. Except the organizations are exempt. Contributions to them are tax deductible.
S. Prt. 110-20 EXECUTIVE SESSIONS OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TOGETHER WITH JOINT SESSIONS WITH THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE (HISTORICAL SERIES) ======================================================================= VOLUME XIX NINETIETH CONGRESS first session 1967 MADE PUBLIC 2007 Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 31-436 PDF WASHINGTON : 2007
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