Lobbyist for Israel have flooded Capitol Hill with complimentary copies of Gerald Green's novel, "Holocaust," hoping its vivid portrayal of the Nazi mass murder of Jews will help delay congressional action on the sale of F15 fighter-bombers to Saudi Arabia.
But Carter administration sources said the proposed arms sale package will be submitted next week as planned.
The State Department was understood to have assured Saudi Arabia that the arms proposal will be submitted Wednesday for a 30-day review by the Senate Foreign Relations and House International Relations committees.
The reaffirmation came amid published reports that White House legislative strategists are considering whether to delay sending the proposal to Congress because of the emotional impact of the television drama, 'Holocaust,' upon which Green's book is based.
Under Carter's package arms proposal, the United States would sell 75 advanced F16s and 15 F15s to Israel, 60 F15s to Saudi Arabia and 50 less sophisticated F5e fighters to Egypt, Israel has maintained sale of the F15s to Saudi Arabia would threaten its security and raise tensions in the Middle East.
Copies of "Holocaust" were sent to each member of Congress and to key administration officials by the American Israel Public Affairs (AIPAC), the principal pro-Israel lobby organization on Capitol Hill.
Officials of AIPAC candidly said distributing of the book on the heels of the television dramatization was designed to "sensitize" members of Congress to Israel's need for security against hostile Arab nations.
"We think, frankly, that it will affect a few votes here and there, and simplify lobbying," said AIPAC's research director, Aaron Rosembaum, referring to the combined effect of the book and the dramatization.
"It helps people understand where Menachem Begin is coming from - his roots," Rosenbaum added, referring to Israel's prime minister, who has steadfastly resisted U.S. proposals for territorial concessions in the occupied West Bank.
Beside the complimentary copy of the book, members of the Senate and the Housse received a letter from AIPAC saying "this chilling account of the extermination of six million Jews underscores Israel's concerns during the current negotiations for security without reliance on outside guarantees."
Accompanying the book, which also was sent to news reporters and commentators in Washington, was a pamphlet, entitled "The Holocaust and Resistance," published by Yad Vashem, a museum in Jerusalem.
Some AIPAX lobbyists said they felt the Holocaust portrayal is already beginnig to have an effect in Congress. "I know of one member who supported the (arms) sale, and now he has moved away from that position. It (the television show) was bound to demonstrate that there is a reason for why Israel is so concerned about security," one of AIPAC's lobbyists said.
Despite the lobbying efforts and some signals from Capitol Hill that some members of Congress would prefer a postponement, Carter feels that he should go ahead with his commitment to submit the arms package without delay, a presidential aide said last night.
White House sources said April 26 was picked because it is the last day the plan can be submitted without the 30 day-review period running into the congressional Memorial Day recess. If there is a delay, it would come only because a few more days were needed to put the finishing touches on an agreement with congressional leaders and committee members, a presidential aide said.
Moreover, Rep. Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wisc.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he came away from a meeting yesterday with National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski feeling that the Wednesday deadline for submitting the arms plan to Congress would be met.
"I didn't get the impression there would be any delay. It will be coming along as scheduled," said Zablocki, a supporter of the proposal.
Zablocki said he told Brzezinski that there are now 11 votes on his committee against the sale to Saudi Arabia, 12 definitely for it and the remaining four members uncommitted. He estimated that if the vote were held now, the Saudi sale would be supported 19-18.
Saudi Arabia sources here said that country's government had received assurances on Thursday that the proposal would not be delayed.
Meanwhile, 37 prominent American Jews, prompted by the editor of the Zionist magazine, "Moment," have sent a message of support to an Israeli peace organization that held a rally urging Begin to be more flexible on negotiations with the Arabs.
The message, signed by Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow, was sent to Bezalel Reshef, a Jerusalem law student and leader of a group that rallied in Tel Aviv early this month calling on Begin to reviewhis West Bank position.