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August 08, 1986 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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thousand Jewish women. JAC refuses to
support candidates from the New Right,
even if they are friendly to Israel. The
leaders of JAC took a great deal of critic-
ism from the largely male leaders of
AIPAC, who considered their strategy
naive. One prominent AIPAC leader told
a JAC sponsor: "It would be better if you
just gave your contributions to your
husbands."
According to Hyman Bookbinder, "Is-
rael's cause is best served by a multi-issue
approach, and not just because it looks
nicer. We need allies. You don't get allies
when you're seen as only caring about one
issue." Campaign-finance politics seems to
drive out coalition politics. A mainstream
Democratic congressman from a farm
state told me, "AIPAC - is in town this
week. They're going to want to exempt
Israel aid from the Gramm-Rudman cuts.
I'm going to say, 'Where were you when
we needed you?' And they're going to say,
`We only care about one issue.' And I'm
going to tell them, 'My other constituents
happen to care about a lot of issues.' "

ment spending. Jewish PACs are not the
only way Jews participate in American
political life.
Finally, the PAC people reject the
charges that pro-Israel activity creates the
perception that Jews have only one thing
on their mind, or that it creates an unseem-
ly alliance between Jews and the hard
right. The preponderance of Jewish polit-
ical giving is still on the liberal side, ac-
cording to Morris Amitay of WashPAC:
"If anything, American Jews are still over-
represented, both in numbers and in finan-
cial support, in the civil rights, pro-choice,
nuclear freeze, and similar movements,
and have nothing to be ashamed of." The
fact remains, though, that pro-Israel
money has moved well to the right of most
Jewish voters. Carole Boron, national
director of MIPAC, says, "I believe we
have to work with the party in power, even
Jesse Helms. But the other PACs cross
over from working with people in power to
using the Jewish community to keep them
in power."

P

related concern is the growing affi-
ance between some mainstream
Jewish groups and the evangelical New
Right, also based largely on a common
support of Israel. When California Repub-
lican congressman Robert Dornan, one of
the most reactionary members of Con-
gress, uttered his infamous slip of the
tongue on the House floor in March,
describing Radio Moscow commentator
Vladimir Posner as a "disloyal, betraying
little Jew," the Anti-Defamation League,
of all people, leapt to Dornan's defense. In
a letter to the Los Angeles Times, ADL
regional director David A. Lehrer wrote:
"I can assure you, were Congressman Dor-
nan's remarks uttered with anti-Semitic
animus, we at the ADL would have been
among the first to condemn them." In a
tortured exegesis of Dornan's syntax,
Lehrer explained that what Dornan really
meant was that Vladimir Posner was dis-
loyal to the Jews.
Dornan, however, is a solid vote for
Israel, and a kind of bridge between the
Jewish community and the evangelical
right. Many in the AIPAC/Israel-PAC
community think it is shrewd politics to
develop such alliances, even with far-right
evangelicals whose main domestic mission
is to "Christianize" America. Last year
Representative Mark Silj ander of Michi-
gan signed a "Dear Pastor" letter, sent to
church leaders in an adjoining congres-
sional district. The letter urged them to
"send another Christian to Congress." The

roponents of the AIPAC/Israel-PAC
strategy make several points in re-
joinder. First, they contend, Israel is the
overarching issue for virtually all Amer-
ican Jews. "Jews agree on little else, but
there is a total consensus on the survival
of Israel," says Richard Altman of Nat-
PAC. "If we didn't stand up and be
counted on Israel, nobody else would do
it." David Brody, the Washington repre-
sentative of the Anti-Defamation League,
adds: "The problem is not unique to the
Jewish community. When the environmen-
talists target their 'dirty dozen,' all that
matters is their record on environmental
issues."
Second, PAC leaders say, if a legislator
has been loyal on the Israel issue, it is bad
politics to embrace his opponent based on
secondary concerns. "It would suggest
that we can't be trusted," says one lob-
byist. If that logic tends to help Repub-
licans in the present environment, that is
also seen as a net plus, because Jews have
probably been too loyal to Democrats
anyway. In any case, the AIPAC/Israel-
PAC network tends to view the single-
issue/multi-issue formulation as something
of a canard, the work of professional
liberals. "It's this year's hot Jewish self-
flagellation topic," says Malcolm Hoen-
lein. America is a pluralist society. As
Jews, people contribute to pro-Israel
PACs. As liberals or conservatives, they
work for gun control or against govern-

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