document the difference of approach between the U.S. government and
pro-Israeli elements in the U.S. on how to deal with the situation in
Lebanon. These differences go back several decades.
The following letter was sent in February, 1981, by
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to Ambassador Dean in Lebanon, after Mr.
Vance had relinquished his duties:
February 18, 1981
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful letter. I admire greatly
the work that you have done during the last two years in Lebanon. You
have served under the most trying conditions and have represented our
country with consummate skill and understanding. I am very proud to have
been able to serve with you. I know that I speak for all of our
colleagues in thanking you for your great service to our country.
Gay joins in sending warmest regards to you and Martine.
Hoping to see you soon,
The pro-Israeli Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York saw Ambassador
Dean’s actions in Lebanon quite differently. In its August 21, 1980,
issue, the Washington correspondent wrote the following under the
headline “U.S. sets aside statement by its envoy in Beirut condemning
Israel for its raids in Lebanon.”
U.S. SETS ASIDE STATEMENT BY ITS ENVOY IN BEIRUT CONDEMING ISRAEL FOR
ITS RAIDS IN LEBANON by Joseph Polakoff
Washington, August 20 (JTA) – U.S. Ambassador John Dean’s
statement today in Beirut condemning Israel for raiding terrorist
strongholds in Lebanon was set aside within several hours by the State
Department which said its words, and not those of the ambassador,
constitute the U.S. government’s position.
The American Embassy in Beirut “condemned” yesterday’s raid
as “contrary to Israeli public assurances and Israeli respect for
Lebanon’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” In Washington, State
Department spokesman David Passage said yesterday “we are deeply
concerned by rising tensions and violence in that area” and “we call on
all parties to act with restraint.”
Passage was asked: “What is the official position?” in view
of the differences between the Beirut and Washington statements. “The
Department’s view, as I have given it,” Passage said today, repeating
yesterday’s comment. “That’s the official position of the United States
government.” Passage’s statements did not “condemn” Israel.
Acknowledging that the Department had been in touch with
Dean after he made his denunciation of Israel, Passage refused to
“describe internal messages” when asked whether the envoy was told to
Passage said “The State Department makes statements and
embassies make statements. Dean’s statement should be read for what it
is, and my statement should be read for what it is. Everything we both
said indicates we are deeply concerned about the raid.” He added that he
would not have anything more to say about the Dean statement or the
Israeli raid “until we have had an opportunity to assess them.”
_Text Of Envoy’s Statement_
At the request of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the text of
Dean’s statement in Beirut was made available. It follows: “The Embassy
of the United States of America notes reports of additional Israeli
raids in southern Lebanon the night of Aug. 18-19. As pointed out in our
statement of Aug. 15, the U.S. government has consistently opposed such
preemptive raids. The embassy strongly condemns these latest raids,
which are contrary to Israeli public assurances regarding Israel’s
respect for Lebanese territorial integrity and sovereignty and which
increase tensions in the area.”
The Aug. 15 statement was in reference, the JTA was told, to
the Israeli raid near Sidon in which terrorist equipment was destroyed.
Passage said that the Beirut view of the raid was “a factor” in the
Department’s assessment of it. Asked if Dean had the information the
Department has, Passage replied, “I would be a bit disinclined to think
so. He spoke as an ambassador in Lebanon. I have spoken on behalf of the
U.S. government rather than the embassy in Beirut.”
Dean, 54 years old and a career U.S. diplomat, is a German
refugee from Hitlerism. He was born in Germany in 1926, the son of
Joseph and Lucy Ashkenaczy and came to the U.S. in 1939, according to
Who’s Who in America.
The implication of Passage’s remarks on the Beirut statement
was that Dean was pleasing the Lebanon government to which he is
accredited while the State Department was speaking from a broader
perspective. Personnel in the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon are known to have
protection from Palestine Liberation Organization units. American envoys
have been murdered by terrorists in Beirut and Khartoum.
Perhaps an appropriate way to close this discussion is to record the
farewell letter of the President of Lebanon, Elias Sarkis, to Ambassador
Dean upon the latter’s departure from Beirut in June, 1981:
To Ambassador John Dean
Of whom we retain the memory of an able ambassador, competent and
qualified, and, above all, the memory of a great friend who was always
present among us to bring us the help of his great nation as well as his
precious personal support.
With the hope of seeing him with his charming wife Martine
in the near future in Lebanon, where they have a great number of friends,
Comment: Inasmuch as I was President Carter’s ambassador in Lebanon, and
in view of the controversy over President Carter’s recent bestseller
entitled “Peace or Apartheid,” the addressees at the Carter Library may
wish to show this message to the former President.
Most of the papers donated to the U.S. National Archives
support President Carter’s position on the Near East and the need for
the U.S. government to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There
is no peace in Lebanon without the establishment of a viable Palestinian
state with East Jerusalem as its capital and Israel having secure
borders and making peace with all its Arab neighbors.
Sara Saunders: Please file this message in my Lebanon file.
I am keeping the originals for the time being.