Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 3, 1983, Page 4
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) announced in mid-September the formation of an umbrella organization of Arab American groups.
The Council of Presidents of National Arab-American Organizations, as it is being called, "will coordinate activities between its member organizations and will take positions on various issues which affect its membership," according to an ADC press release. The "founding groups" were listed as ADC; the American Druze Society: the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine; the Association of Arab American University Graduates; the Palestine Congress of North America and the United Holy Land Fund. The chairman of ADC, James Abourezk, was elected Council chairman.
The National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) was not listed as a founding member. Its spokesman, Ronald Cathell, said that NAAA had received an invitation to join and that itsleaders were continuing to discuss the Council's purpose and scope with the heads of other Arab American organizations "with the intention of joining the Council as soon as possible." Among the other groups which have accepted similar invitations are the Committee for a Democratic Palestine, the Palestine Aid Fund and the Palestine Aid Society.
Recently, a number of Arab American organizations spoke out against the increased military involvement, prior to the September 26 cease-fire, of the U.S. marine contingent in Lebanon.
Among these groups was the newly-formed American-Druze Public Affairs Committee (ADPAC), whose representatives met with Congressmen Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), as well as with staffers from four other Congressional offices, to urge a halt to American shelling of Druze forces then taking place. Muneer Zaineldeen, the chairman of ADPAC, has said he was asked by Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to meet with U.S. policymakers to better explain Druze complaints against the Lebanese government. ADPAC vice chairman Raymond Hamden said it would support a U.S. peacekeeping force so long as it "maintained its neutrality and fostered mutual security for all Lebanese." According to Mr. Hamden, ADPAC was formed last August as a "complimentary organization" to the American Druze Society, a tax-exempt, educational body whose charter does not allow it to engage in political advocacy. Both Mr. Hamden and Mr. Zaineldeen, the chairman, are former presidents of the American DruzeSociety. Acting as an advisor to the group is James Zogby, executive director of the American-Arab Anti -Discrimination Committee.
The American-Arab Anti -Discrimination Committee, for its part, had urged members of Congress in a letter "to reject any further U.S. military involvement in Lebanon or any military solutions to Lebanon's conflict and to support instead urgent diplomatic initiatives that would seek national reconciliation..." The NAAA called for the marine contingent to "return to its original peacekeeping assignment" and not to get involved in combat situations.
Also commenting was the American Lebanese League, which endorsed the marine involvement, saying in a statement that it backed "U.S. military support to silence the artillery" of "the Syrian-Palestinian-Iranian-Jumblattist militias."
The recent approval in the Senate of two amendments that would stop over $100 million in aid to Syria already in the pipeline may have been made easier as the result of a campaign by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). For the last several months, AIPAC has been sending Congressional offices a steady stream of information depicting Syria as a Soviet client-state bent on frustrating all U.S. diplomatic efforts in Lebanon.
The campaign goes back at least as far as last spring, when AIPAC sent members of Congress two memos alleging vast military cooperation between Syria and the Soviet Union—cooperation which one memo said threatens not only Lebanon and Israel but America's "NATO allies" as well. It also claimed that the Soviets and the Syrians are in an "alliance" which represents a "direct challenge" to President Reagan's objective of preventing Soviet domination in the Middle East.
AIPAC's newsletter, the Near East Report, has been writing one editorial after another since last spring blaming Syria for obstructing U.S. goals of achieving a sovereign Lebanon. The following quotations have been selected from them: August 5: "The cause for the current Lebanese stalemate is not in Jerusalem and it is not in Beirut. It is in Damascus." August 19: "Today there is only one force that is blocking Lebanon in its struggle to regain sovereignty. That force is Syria." In a more recent editorial, on September 16, AIPAC endorsed President Reagan's order giving the U.S. marine commanders in Lebanon the option of calling for air strikes, arguing that "the alternative to a U.S. show of strength would be a Syrian-controlled Lebanon, a Lebanon in the Soviet orbit."
The legislation passed in the Senate would keep Syria from getting approximately $227 million in development funds which were appropriated during the late 1970s but which have not yet been disbursed. The first bill, sponsored by Senator William Proxmire (D-WI), was attached to the FY 84-85 State Department authorization bill and approved by the Senate September 22. The other amendment, introduced on the same day by Alfonse D'Amato (D-NY), was tied to the FY 84-85 foreign aid bill during an appropriations mark-up session in the Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. A main difference between the two is over the issue of compensation to the contractors who would be hurt by the stoppage of project funds.