His voice breaking from a persistent head cold, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy nevertheless turned up the volume of his attacks against the Carter administration yesterday for its "appalling betrayal of Israel" in last week's United Nations vote snafu.
In a speech to a convention of the B'nai B'rith Women here, the Massachusetts Democrat said the references to Jerusalem -- which the administration said were supposed to have been deleted -- "were not the only problem."
"The resolution was not a complex document nor was it filled with legalistic phrases. Its page-and-a-half of text was a stark attack on Israel in almost every line," Kennedy said.
The presidential challenger, drawing repeated applause and a standing ovation at the end, questioned the administration's version of the incident and called on officials to reveal all relevant documents and permit everyone involved to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about "this sorry episode."
But Kennedy went beyond that incident to attack, as he has in the past, Carter's whole record on Israel. "Israel and other friends of the United States must wonder what kind of an ally always has to say it is 'sorry.'"
Kennedy's speech came on the eve of the Florida primary. It is also came two weeks before the New York contest, where Kennedy has made an all-out effort. Both states have significant numbers of Jewish voters.
"The administration asks us to believe that the mistake in the U.N. vote resulted from a communications gap between the State Department and our mission at the United Nations," Kennedy said.
"But was it a communications gap or a credibility gap? If it was only a communications gap, why did it take two full days of round-the-clock meetings between the president and his chief political advisers to detect the mistake, when the error should have been obvious as soon as the State Department saw the text of the resolution?
"And why does a president who proudly quotes from Harry Truman and says the buck stops here now pass the buck to Cyrus Vance?" Kennedy also wondered if the administration was "simply negligent" in casting a vote against Israel before the instructions were clear. "The president says he is too busy . . . to engage in campaign activity. But he should not be too busy to read a critical U.N. resolution . . ."
Or, Kennedy asked, "did the president actually decide to cast an unprecedented vote against Israel -- and then reverse the decision in the face of mounting criticism?"
Kennedy also denounced yesterday a brawl which had occurred earlier in the day at Carter's Miami campaign office where seven militant Jewish Defense League members tried to take over the premises to protest the president's Mideast policy.
The protestors, six men and one woman, reportedly traded punches with some Carter staffers, but police said there were no arrests and no serious injuries.
"My family has been touched by violence, and this act of the Jewish Defense League is deplorable and inconsistent with the great Democratic traditions of this country," Kennedy said.
In New York, Carter's campaign chairman Robert Strauss was working to repair the damage from the mistake at the United Nations.
"I don't think there's any question that this was politically damaging," Strauss said at a news conference. He said however, that Carter's willingness to admit his mistake is an attribute that helps his reelection campaign, "The people of this country believe this president. They know he's truthful," Strauss said.
Depite the damage which is most likely to show up in New York because of its large number of Jewish voters, Strauss predicted Carter would do well in the March 25 New York primary, but he shied away from a direct prediction that Carter would defeat Kennedy.