25 AUGUST 1979, Page 6

Defenestrating Young

Nicholas von Hoffman

Washington Jody Powell, the President's press secretary, blinked tears out of his eyes as he announced Andrew Young's resignation. Both inside and outside the Administration, many others were disturbed and depressed at Young's being pushed out of government. Even those like myself, who had mocked and joked each time he shot off his blunderbuss mouth, never wanted him fired. We were willing to put up with his incendiary faux pas because Young is not only an extraordinarily good man, but a man of genuine moral fervour in a government which practises only mundane realpolitik in its foreign affairs. And so, with Young's removal, went the highest ranking opponent to the new arms build-up, the man who is generally acknowledged to have made the United States credible again in Africa and Asia, and a figure of gentle and exceptional personal virtue.

Young is leaving because he is supposed to have lied to C. William Maynes, the State Department's Assistant Secretary for International Organisations, about a meeting on 26 July with Zehdi Terzi, the Palestine Liberation Organisation's representative at the UN. He is supposed to have told Maynes that he just ran into Terzi at the apartment of the Kuwaiti delegate, but nothing of substance was discussed. It later emerged that the two had talked about postponing a vote on the forthcoming Palestinian resolution. Since such a discussion could be construed as procedural, it may be that Young did not in fact lie when he said that nothing of substance was discussed, but, in any event, Cyrus Vance and the State Department relied on Young's description of the meeting to deny that Young had talked 'business' with the PLO.

Next, Young met the Israeli delegate at the United Nations, Ye hu da Blum Who actually initiated the meeting is in dispute, but Young did admit to Blum that he had discussed the forthcoming Security Council debate with Terzi. When the Israelis protested that ,they had been lied to by Vance, and that Young's act violated an American agreement not to so much as use an adjoining urinal with the PLO, Young was in serious trouble. With Carter on videotape having said that he would fire any high official in his Administration caught lying, the Reverend Andy had a late night meeting with his staff in which it was concluded that he had better jump ship before he was forced to walk tbe plank.

Editorial support for the virtual dismissal of Young was great. Young's eccentric and unique manner of conducting his office had long offended the pompous guardians of the humdrum who write the leaders; it was predictable, for example, that the Los Angeles Times would claim that 'it is one thing to embarrass the Administration you serve or even to dissent from its policies, but it's quite another to mislead its highest officials with false versions of events.'

Although Young has been expending a great deal of energy in an attempt to pacify them, and has made it clear that he intends to be an important part of Carter's re-election campaign, prominent black figures have been loudly and publicly unhappy. They have also been talking about a growing 'polarisation between the black community and the Jewish community.' They usually bring up the subject while saying that it must not be allowed to deteriorate — though, naturallyreven talking about it does tend to exacerbate matters. In fact, among lowerclass blacks in the older big cities, there has long been a considerable degree of antisemitism. Jews, rightly or wrongly, are associated with slum landlords and cheating, usurious shopkeepers. Middle-class blacks, however, particularly those involved in civil rights groups, have a very different opinion, since they know how much Jewish money and support have gone their way in the past. Jewish philanthropists like the late Julius Rosenwald, the man who made Sears Roebuck into a multi-billion dollar retail operation, led the way 60 years ago with a number of imaginative programmes long before middle-class Jews, or northern nonJews for that matter, would let blacks clean their homes. And, even now, nowhere can you hear more pejorative language directed toward the `schwarzes', as blacks are called in American Yiddish, than from a certain type of suburban,New York Jew.

In recent years, relations between the leaders of the two groups have become strained, with the drop in Jewish financial support and angry disagreement over college admission and employment quotas — something blacks dearly want and 'Jews detest. More recently, some black leaders seem to have veered over to an oil-at-anyprice policy, even if that means dumping Israel, because the curtailment of oil supplies appears to hit the black population first • and hardest. The Jewish position, or at least the position of the big organisations which purport to speak for Jews, is still that Israel will never — no, never — talk with terrorists. (The constant bombing and invading of Lebanon has Made it more difficult, however, for some non-black, non-Jewish Americans to make any significant moral distinction between the Israelis and the PLO. For them, it is a struggle between uniformed and non-uniformed terrorists, both of whom wage war by killing unarmed civilians and destroying their homes.) Many people are also having second thoughts about the Israeli role in Young's resignation. The story of his meeting with Terzi was first leaked to Newsweek magazine by the Israeli government. And how did they know about it? The Atlanta Constitution, a major American daily newspaper, has charged that Israeli intelligence 'monitored' the meeting. In that case, it is possible, given the role of Yehuda Blum in the affair, that Young was set up — not unlike the way Khrushehev set up Eisenhower over the shooting down of the U-2. The thought grows that Israelis may have had a less than honourable hand in the defenestration of the flannel-mouthed Reverend-Ambassador.

They may also have made a serious mistake. Within the confines of his UN position, Young might occasionally say something displeasing to the Israelis, but now he is free of all State Department discipline and can say anything he wants; in addition, since he remains close to President Carter and is a major figure in his re-election apparatus, he still has a platform from which to speak. And he is already using it. Over the weekend he called the Israelis 'stubborn and intransigent', even as the visiting Israeli Deputy Prime Minister said on television that he did not believe that an American official should even sit in the same room with a man from the PLO. Reports from Jerusalem of Moshe Dayan accusing the United States of selling out for Arab oil haven't sweetened things, although there is some truth in what Dayan says. Although President Carter has beep almost truculent in declaring that the United States will never give in to oil 'blackmail ,'the consequences of tightening supplies just can't be shrugged off by sticking the chin out and squaring the shoulderS. On the other, hand, at least at this juncture, the Israelis almost paranoid fear of being 'dumped' Is unrealistic. Without considering the military stores and equipment the United States has in Israel, that country functions as our best and most reliable Middle Eastern military base. Its armed forces are our thugs, our enforcers, or, if you will, our commandoes, able to reach Iranian or Arabian oil fields in hours while it would take days for the 82nd Airborne Division or the new 'unilateral force' to do so.

Happily, some people can make a joke out of anything, and they are saying that what. Young really did at that meeting was to ask how Yassar Arafat is able to keep a permanent, three-day stubble on his less than handsome face. This is no easy trick because, unless care is taken, the stubble will,quickly lengthen into a beard. That's acceptable on the Iranian Ayatollah, who comes across as a religious fanatic, but it won't do for the world's best-known terrorist. Such a man has to have the special look of one who's been hiding out in the hills, who gets drunk every night, who kicks two women out of bed every morning, who is a short, unshaven, hairy bandit with halitosis bad enough to light cigarettes. It may be that what Young said to Terzi was:Tell your boss that well-dressed people like Jimmy Carter can't sit down with your guy when he goes around looking like a tramp. If yotipeople don't want to be treated like terrorists, don't dress like them. If Yassar buys a decent suit and dresses like a head of state, we might give him a country. As it is, I could lose my job one day if they found out I was meeting with such a crummy-looking bunch.'