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April 22, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-04-22

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2 Friday, April 22, 1983


Purely Commentary

Reagan and King Hussein
and the 1984 Election

minister put it, "whether the PLO isn't more in-
terested in preserving itself rather than part of
Palestine." At any rate, PLO chairman Yasir
A Reagan adviser on Jewish affairs reportedly quit the
Arafat underscored his differences with Hussein
Presidential staff. It is attributed to a statement quoted in
last week by going to Kuwait to confer, then de-
the Wall Street Journal two-part series of articles on King
laying his scheduled return to Amman to com-
Hussein of Jordan (April 14 and 15) in which the President
plete his discussions with the King.
said he was losing the Jewish vote. Usually, when discuss-
After Saudi Arabia, the PLO is probably the
ing "such a vote," a candidate — and Ronald Reagan is
most overrated political actor in the Middle East.
already viewed as in the race for re-election — usually
The PLO's presence in Beirut for 13 years —
leaves such matters to the media in whose ranks it is
where it enjoyed a wide and often uncritical expo-
'always speculative_
to a large diplomatic community and an in-
(On Monday the Wall Street Journal carried a White
ternational press corps — helped it assume an
House denial that the President had spoken about a loss of
image that was often larger than life. This image-
the Jewish vote. But this is immaterial when the major
tended to obscure the PLO's own internal weak-
experience is under consideration. It is the exaggeration
nesses and the rather limited quality of its leader-
itself that matters).
ship. The Israeli invasion last summer dispelled
The role of a Presidential staff member is always of
the myth of the PLO as a guerrilla. power and
interest. In the present instance it has more than one as-
events since the summer have begun to raise
questions about it as a political institution as well.
First, there is the Jordanian issue which elicited the
Having lost Lebanon, Mr. Arafat is now in a
Presidential comments that were rejected by "the Jewish
much more difficult position. He no longer has a
adviser." Hussein and the White House have a long record
tree house to climb into when the diplomatic heat
of mutual accord, Hussein having been treated with much
is on. The Israelis have virtually removed any
more accord than most Israeli guests. The cancellation of
serious PLO option for "armed struggle" and the
the recently planned Reagan-Begin meeting is a special
quickening pace of Israeli settlement-building in
case arousing more than mere concern. Hussein is treated
the West Bank has made it imperative for the
as the darling in American political circles, and the
Palestinians, and the Jordanians, to work out a
hesitancy with which the Jordanian king has treated all
credible diplomatic formula that will preserve the
invitations for participation in peace negotiations con-
land for Arab sovereignty before there is no land
tinues to prove harmful to all efforts for anything approach-
ing the Camp David conferences which led to an Egyptian-
In these circumstances, the old PLO seems
Israeli pact which remains the only friendly act between
finished. Mr. Arafat now appears to have two
Arabs and Jews.
choices. He can take a clear-cut political decision
It often appears as if Hussein of Jordan was receiving
to negotiate with Israel or mandate Jordan to do
love pats from American statesmen, _ and this could be
so, accepting that this would split his organiza-
judged as contributing towards the encouragement given
tion. Or he can continue to live in an airplane, fly
him to remain reluctant to any peace move placed on the
around on state visits to the 100-odd countries
Middle East agenda.
that recognize the PLO and watch as his or-
Hussein remains unhelpful and the White House to-
ganization gradually becomes politically irrele-
gether with the State Department have not been as de-
manding for action by him as they have been in dealing
Mr. Arafat might have had a lot more room to
with Israel.
maneuver at this time had he crushed the ex-
Then there is another aspect in the quoted Reagan
tremists within his organization . when he had
statement which seems to have irritated "the Jewish ad-
them under his thumb in Beirut. Even his col-
viser." It is the reference to the Jewish vote. It has one basic
leagues will admit that Mr. Arafat, unlike other
value for the Jewish community: it prepares Jews for the
successful revolutionary leaders, has never really
repetitive speculations, in the media and wherever politi-
faced down the radicals in his organization. As a
cians meet, about "the Jewish vote."
result, the PLO today is a hodgepodge of pro-
If there are no objections to the labeling of a "liberal
Syrian, pro-Iraqi, pro-Libyan and pro-Arafat fac-
vote" or many others with titles appended to certain groups
tions, all of whom the leader has to poll before he
— there being so much emphasis, for example, on "the
can make a decision.
black vote" — why panic over "Jewish vote?"
_ "Because the PLO is now so dispersed and
To deny its existence is futile. Jews will resent anti-
loaded down wtith internal contradictions, it
Israelism and will not support candidates who are an-
can't agree on anything that falls short of 100 per-
tagonistic to the Jewish state. Jews will fight to the finish
cent of its objectives," a European diplomat said.
when the Klan makes an appearance and when ADL is
"But the PLO simply is not in a position to be
attacked. But Jews will especially oppose any candidate
demanding 100 percent from anyone."
who does not support the nation's social needs, who is an
Rather than make any decision that could
obstacle to civil rights. Jews have always stood by the black
split the organization or deprive it of a central role
community in its opposition to racism. (A completed study
in any peace negotiations, the leadership appears
of the mayoralty election in Chicago will show that
to prefer to postpone matters and hope that
Mayor-Elect Washington had strong Jewish, liberal back-
somehow conditions will change to its advantage.
In the meantime, the bureaucracy seems likely to
When, therefore, there is talk about a "Jewish vote,"
survive. The corporate instinct of the leadership
the speculators must be reminded that what is involved is
should not be underestimated. It has become a
more than a ballot, that it is the code of ethics, basic
way of life for hundreds of men. There are offices
principles that underly the Jewish pride in American citi-
to go to, lots of conferences to attend around the
zenship. This is the Jewish vote!
world and an endless steam of internal meetings
The Haters and Their Platforms
to take part in. The pay isn't bad and for senior
officials there is always a Mercedes.
Always Demand Exposing
Somewhere along the way, a Western dip-
It's a great pity that the PLO and its nefarious chief-
in Amman remarked, the PLO seems to
tain continue to get top spots in public attention in spite of
have become so involved with the "revolution"
the destructive aims that keep influencing many ranks.
and the "cause" that it has lost touch with the
They are despised by fellow Arabs, yet they receive the -
reality on the ground. After every Arab-Israeli
widest attention. PLO-Hussein negotiations collapsed be-
war, it decides that it might be ready to accept
caust the Jordanian king could not provide a platform for
what it could have had before the hostilities be-
the terror-monger. Yet, although the Hussein-Arafat clan-
but which may be impossible now.
ship collapsed, the PLO spokesman gets a platform in his
These are facts and impressions that are not to be
personal way of saying his contacts with Hussein remain hidden,
and it is fortunate there is a courageous foreign
i*act. It is a way of fooling the public, and he makes correspondent to relate them.
progress on that path.
Will the American diplomats pay attention to the reve-
Not that the PLO nefariousness is always hidden. It is lations?
They know the facts. Will they apply them, even if
not secret. It is as evident as the vast aspect of Arab divi- a Hussein
should be dragged down a peg?
siveness in which Arafat has importance in the major cast
of characters.
A Former Congressman
Prior to the collapse of the Hussein-Arafat talks — the Insults His Colleagues
PLO head cannot deny their failure, in spite of his many
The resort to the speculative Jewish vote theme often
subsequent claims — Thomas Friedman, the star New
York Times correspondent, reporting to his newspaper reveals a lack of respect for public officials. It relates to
from Amman, made known the splits in Arab ranks, the accusations that elected officials are under Jewish influ-
misrepresentations inherent in PLO, its leaders and tac- ence, and one former Congressman, speaking here last
tics. Writing under the heading "For PLO, a First-Class week-end to an Arab group, dared say that his former
colleagues are "terrorized" by Jewish voters.
Trip to Nowhere?" on April 21, Friedman stated:
What the reporters who quoted the ex-Congressman
The PLO's refusal last week to give King Hus-
did not indicate, as the well-informed California consti-
sein any kind of green light on the Reagan plan
tuency undoubtedly knows, is that the latest messenger of
raises the question, as one Jordanian cabinet
ill will who urged that all U.S. aid to Israel should cease had



By Philip

Old Speculations Gain Renewal Thanks to an
Occurrence in the White House, With 'The Jewish
Vote' on Agenda . . . An Expose of PLO Under Scrutiny

been exposed long ago as one of the very few defenders of
the PLO. Now he returns again as their advocate. Natur-
ally, he resents the realism of the U.S. Congress whose
nearly total membership recognizes Israel's value to the
U.S. as its most devoted friend in the Middle East.
It is the resort to the charge that Jews — Israel —
"terrorize" members of Congress that is outrageous. It is an
accusation that the chief U.S. legislative body is under
submission to some 2 or 3 percent of the U.S. population. It
is a rejection of decent diplomatic relations and of the very
sense of justice that is at the root of American policies.
Even when that spokesman still held a Congressional seat,
he had already gained disrepute for such views and for
being a spokesman for terrorism in the name of propagat-
ing the PLO cause.

Thomas Friedman as a Merited
Prize Winning Correspondent

Thomas Friedman could not have had much competi-
tion. As the winner of the current Pulitzer Prize for corre-
spondence he reaffirmed the anticipations of those who
have studied the coverage of the Lebanese events in the
American press that he would be a unanimous choice for
such recognition.
Friedman has shown thoroughness, a capacity for re-
search, the skill of selecting the proper people to be inter-
viewed, the ideal time to be on the spot when there was
action during the entire dramatic struggles.
The sense of fairness evidenced in his reports to the
New York Times proved also to be a credit to the newspaper
he represented and the others that subscribed to the cor-
redpondence he provided. He deserves the congratulations
he is receiving.

In the Atmosphere of Freedom:
Congressman's Yiddish Message

Yiddish had an impressive echo in Washington last
week, during the deeply-moving ceremonies marking the
assembling of the survivors from Nazism.
There was a one-hour ceremony on the steps of the
West Front facing the Mall. One of the speakers was Sam
Gejdenson, member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut. Congressman Gejdenson spoke in Yid-
dish. He was born in 1948 in the Eschwege Concentration
Camp in West Germany and is the first child of a Holocaust
survivor to serve in the U.S. Congress.
This was more than an episode. It was a message of
freedom to those who survived the most horrible of at-
rocities, and was a special message to the children of the
survivors. It was like a stanza to the hymn "God Bless
America" that this message should have come in the Wash-
ington atmosphere.

Self-Democratizing Process: -
Merging Masses with Classes

Detroit's Jewish Welfare Federation leadership
showed good sense in planning for mass participation in the
concluding event of the Allied Jewish Campaign. As
planned, and because of an artistic attraction, some 900
people participated, instead of the usual 300 or a maximum
of 400 at a dinner.
In his interesting address to the gathering, Judge
Avern Cohn mentioned an earlier Campaign function
which was attended by the late Dr. Joseph Schwartz, who
masterminded Joint Distribution Committee activities as a
world rescue agency, and who directed UJA activities, and
the late Arthur Lourie, who as Dr. Chaim Weizmann's
secretary and was Israel's ambassador to the Court of St.
James. Judge Cohn could have referred to an early Allied
Jewish Campaign experience when the late Dr. Chaim
Weizmann, who was later to become Israel's first President,
was the guest speaker at a concluding Allied Jewish Cam-
paign event held at Temple Beth El, in lieu of a dinner. The
temple was packed for the Weizmann message. That was a
leading occasion at which the masses were linked with the
classes in a communat 'fiinetion, That's the way to demo-
cratize a community.



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