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November 14, 1986 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-11-14

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

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42

Friday, November 14, 1986 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

I

American Jewish pol-
itical activists were
clearly delighted by
the outcome of last week's
mid-term Congressional elec-
tions. But this was not
necessarily because of the
political setback for President
Reagan, who is widely seen as
extremely friendly toward
Israel.
Rather, the Jews agreed
that this new session of Con-
gress will almost certainly be
even more pro-Israeli than the
last — and the last was in-
deed very pro-Israeli.
If the Israeli government
plays its cards right, the new
cast of characters in the
Senate and House of Repre-
sentatives can be expected to
maintain very high levels of
U.S. economic and military
assistance to Israel even dur-
ing the prevailing budget-
cutting atmosphere.
And if President Reagan
and Secretary of State
George Shultz should come
forward with new legislative
initiatives aimed at further
strengthening Israel's de-
fense and its economic re-
covery, the Congress will
almost certainly go along
with them.
The Democrats in the
Senate and House, moreover,
will be in a very strong posi-
tion to block Republican-
backed arms sales to "mod-
erate" Arab states.
The elections demonstrated
once again that Israel's
popularity in Washington is
both non-partisan and non-
ideological. Israel has friends
among the most liberal
Democrats and the most con-
servative Republicans. This
was underscored in what were
probably the two most impor-
tant Senate races in the coun-
try — as far as Israel's narrow
interests were concerned.
In California, incumbent
Senator Alan Cranston, a
liberal Democrat, faced a very
stiff and angry challenge
from Republican Ed Zschau,
a young Congressman who
served on the House Foreign
Affairs Committee. This was
probably the most bitter cam-
paign in the country, with an
almost endless number of
negative ads appearing daily
on California television sta-
tions. It drew an enormous
amount of interest in the
Jewish community around
the country.
Zschau had voted against
Israel on several key issues as
a Congressman. A lot of
Jewish money, therefore, went
to Cranston, a down-the-line
supporter who had often led
the fight in the Senate
against Administration-
backed arms sales to "mod-
erate" Arab states. Cranston
won in a close contest. .
In Wisconsin, Bob Kasten,

a conservative Republican,
overcame a tough challenge
from Democratic candidate
Ed Garvey. Kasten, as chair-
man of the Senate Appropria-
tions Subcommittee on
Foreign Operations, was
critical in pushing for in-
creased U.S. aid to Israel in
recent years. The Jewish com-
munity rallied behind him,
wanting to reward him for his
support.
The Jewish fundraisers,
both individually as well as
collectively through . their
political action committees
(PACs), also wanted to make
sure that Kasten would re-
main on that critical panel,
which will now be chaired by
Democratic Senator Daniel
Inouye of Hawaii, another
great friend of Israel.
Morris J. Amitay, a former
executive director of the
American Israel Public Af-
fairs Committee (AIPAC) who
now heads a separate pro-
Israeli political action com-
mittee in Washington, wel-
comed the fact that two well-
known critics of Israel —
Republicans Barry Gold-
water of Arizona and Charles
McC. Mathias of Maryland —
are retiring from the Senate.
The new senator from
Maryland, Democrat Barbara
Mikulski, has had an out-
standing record on Israel dur-
ing her years in the House of
Representatives. And in
Arizona, the Republican win-
ner of the Senate contest,
John McCain, is widely ex-
pected to be more friendly
toward Israel than was
Goldwater. Thus, there has
been a net plus for Israel.
In recent years, Republican
and Democratic politicians
across the country have come
to really respect — even fear
— the fundraising and man-
agerial clout of the American
Jewish community, which is
extremely well-organized and
efficient in making its views
known. Fear of a potential
backlash is occasionally ex-
pressed but that has not yet
materialized.
To years ago, Jewish ac-
tivists worked very hard to
unseat Republican Senator
Charles Percy of Illinois, and
they did. Four years ago, they
did the same to Republican
Representative Paul Findley
of Illinois. Both men were
seen as anti- Israel — Findley,
of course, much more so than
Percy.
The new and impressive
Democratic majority in the
Senate, backed up by the con-
tinued Democratic control of
the House of Representatives,
is seen as a built-in guarantee
that the Republican Admin-
istration will not be in a posi-
tion to overly lean on Israel.
Both Jews who were seek-
ing re-election, Republicans

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