A member of the White House national security staff has helped arrange for a Zionist-supported organization, which she helped found, to take her and other prominent women assoicated with the Reagan administration on a free trip to the Middle East this week.
Phyllis Kaminsky, who is press liaison for national scurity adviser Richard Allen, was scheduled to leave this weekend for Israel and Egypt with a group of traveling companions who include:
Ursula Meese, wife of presidential counselor Edwin Meese, one of Reagan's top advisers.
Helene von Damm, the president's longtime personal secretary and now his executive assistant.
Nancy Reynolds, the Bendix executive who is one of the Reagans' closest personal friends and advisers and is known as "the other Nancy" in Reagan circles.
On the way back, the four are leaving the group of 20 and taking advantage of the already-paid air fare to vacation in Morocco. While there the four women will be paying their own expenses, according to Kaminsky. tSome of the other members of the group will be stopping over elsewhere.
The Israel-Egypt trip is being arranged through the Jerusalem Women's Seminar, an organization Kaminsky incorporated in Pennsylvania in January 1980 with Elaine Dubow.Dubow had previously worked for the Department of Information, a branch of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Dubow now works in Montreal as director of development and public relations for the World Jewish Congress.
Kaminsky, during a series of telephone interviews last week, said that the trip, which is costing some $50,000 is being underwritten primarily by funding from:
The Zionist Organization of America.
Gordon B. Zacks, who is cochairman of the National Council of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of Washington's most effective and visible lobbying organizations, the unofficial "Israeli lobby" that is a power to be reckoned with by the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.
Ivan Novick, president of the Zionist Organization of America and vice chairman of the American section of the World Jewish Congress.
Jacques Torczyner, a member of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress and former president of the Zionist Organization of America.
The Council of Women's Organizations in Israel.
Kaminsky, who at first declined to tell this reporter who was paying for the trip on the ground that the White House had told her she was "not at liberty to do so," said that there had been "anonymous Christian contributors" who gave "small amounts" but not "want their names known."
After first insisting that she was paying her own way, Kaminsky later acknowledged that her expenses, except for the Morocco stop, were being picked up in the same way as those of Meese, von Damm and Reynolds.
"What business is it of yours?" she asked a reporter. "I'm allowed to go wherever L like on my vacation . . . aren't I?"
Kaminsky said that her boss, Allen, had "signed off" on the trip and her participation in it and that White House lawyer Fred Fielding had reviewed details of the junket, including the list of those paying for it, and "given it his blessing."
She said the Jerusalem Women's Seminar is not a Zionist group. "We are completely independent of all groups. The purpose of the seminar is to bring Christian, Moslem and Jewish women together to have a dialogue, to discuss nonpolitical issues that are of interest to women. The men have botched up the situation in the Middle East; maybe women can help achieve peace."
Allen declined on Friday to be interviewed on the propriety of the trip and referred all questions to Fielding, whose office said he was in New Orleans. Repeated attempts to reach him through the Army Signal Corps unit, which usually has instantaneous telephone access to all White House staffers, were unsuccessful.
Kaminsky said that Dubow was already in Israel, advancing the trip. The Jerusalem Women's Seminar has an office in New York.
Dubow, reached in Jerusalem, said the seminar has no links to Jewish groups. "Let me make it clear there's no correlation between the World Jewish Congress and this or any other Jewish group."
On Friday, the deputy director of the New York office of the World Jewish Congress, Elan Steinberg, said that "We are associated with it [the seminar] . . . we facilitated efforts to bring it about . . . we lend it our good offices."
"It's fair to say we have facilitated financial support," he said.
This trip is the second sponsored by the Jerusalem Women's Seminar. Kaminsky said that she had taken another group of women to Israel last July and "was, as a matter of fact, there with them when the Reagan people reached me and asked me to come back and work for his campaign." r
Kaminsky said that it was necessary for the seminar to pay the way for participants at this point "because most women, even if they are professional women, don't have $1,200 or $1,500 which they can spend" on this kind of trip. Eventually, Kaminsky said, the organization hopes to get "corporate funding" for the trips.
Moroccan Ambassador Ali Bengelloun, who arranged for the four women to vacation in his country (at the request of Nancy Reynolds, according to Kaminsky), said that "anyone can visit Morocco. They're coming as tourists, that's all."
Bengelloun's wife said she hopes to join the four women in Morocco to show them around.
Asked whether he was aware that the trip to Egypt and Israel was being sponsored by the Jerusalem Women's Seminar, Bengelloun said: "I don't know at all about that; it isn't any of my business . . . how do you know they aren't paying for themselves?"
Told that the White House and Kaminsky had confirmed that the trip was being partially funded by Zionists, he replied:
"The Zionists are not paying for their trip to Morocco. They [the women] are paying. Morocco is an open country for anyone to visit. Many tourists come from the U.S. every day."
When in Israel, the 20 women are scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and with their professional counterparts. During their professional counterparts. During their two-day stay in Egypt, Dubow said, they will try to meet with Mrs. Anwar Sadat.