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April 23, 1981

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Diary Entry - 04/23/1981

Thursday, April 23, 1981

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Met with Sen. Baker re the A.W.A.C.S. sale to Saudi Arabia & the fuss being kicked up about it. He made a sound suggestion that we dont present the proposal to Cong. until after next weeks vote on the ec. prog.

I’m disturbed by the reaction & the opposition of so many groups in the Jewish community. First of all it must be plain to them, they’ve never had a better friend of Israel in the W.H. than they have now.

We are striving to bring stability to the Middle East and reduce the threat of a Soviet move in that direction. The basis for such stability must be peace between Israel & the Arab nations. The Saudi’s are a key to this. If they can follow the course of Egypt the rest might fall in place. The A.W.A.C.S. wont be theirs until 1985. In the meantime much can be accomplished toward furthering the Camp David format.

We have assured the Israelis we will do whatever is needed to see that any help to the Arab States does not change the balance of power between them & the Arabs.

Last night watched the NBC special on our first 100 days. If only Bobby Burns had waited for T.V. he would never have written “If only we had the gift to see ourselves as others see us.”

Attached is a script of letter I wrote to Brezhnev by hand.

My Dear Mr. President

I’m sorry to be so long in answering your letter to me and can only offer as an excuse the problems of settling into a routine after my hospitalization. I ask your pardon.

I won’t attempt a point by point response to your letter because I agree with your observation that these matters are better discussed in person than in writing. Needless to say we are not in agreement on a number of points raised in both my letter & yours.

There is one matter however which I feel I must bring to your attention. All information having to do with my govt’s practices & policies past & present is available to me now that I hold this office. I have thoroughly investigated the matter of the man Scharansky an inmate in one of your prisons. I can assure you he was never involved in any way with any agency of the U.S. govt. I have seen news stories in the Soviet press suggesting that he was engaged in espionage for our country. Let me assure you this is absolutely false.

Recently his wife called upon me. They were married and spent one day together before she emigrated to Israel assuming that he would follow shortly thereafter. I believe true justice would be done if he were released and allowed to join her.

If you could find it in your heart to do this the matter would be strictly between us which is why I’m writing this letter by hand.

While on this subject may I also enter a plea on behalf of the two families who have been living in most uncomfortable circumstances in our embassy in Moscow for three years. The [. . .] family & the [. . .] are Pentacostal Christians who feared possible persecution because of their religion. Members of that church in America would, I know, provide for them here if they were allowed to come to the U.S.

Again as in the case of Scharansky this is between the two of us and I will not reveal that I made any such request. I’m sure however you understand that such actions on your part would lessen my problems in future negotiations between our two countries.