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September 25, 1987 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-25

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





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46 FRIDAY, SEPT. 25, 1987

Washington Correspondent


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eptember in Washing-
ton is like an abrupt
plunge into a cold
shower. And this year, with
the Shultz-Shevardnadze
meetings, the noisy battle
over the Bork nomination
and the everpresent hints of
a new Saudi arms sale, the
lethargy of summer is ending
with a vengeance.
The State Department ac-
tion closing the Washington
information office of the
Palestine Liberation
Organization, but leaving the
New York office open, con-
tinues to send reverberations
through the Jewish activist
The common wisdom is that
the action was a major victory
in the war against terrorism.
But there are dissenting
voices; according to some
observers, the legal battle
over the PLO's status in the
U.S. may only be beginning.
And there is growing specula-
tion about the long-term im-
plications of an action that
was motivated, at least in
part, by Byzantine jurisdic-
tional wrangling between the
administration and Congress.
There is general agreement
here that the State Depart-
ment action represented an
attempt to get the drop on
Congress, where two bills
designed to close both the
Washington and the New
York PLO offices were slowly
working their way out of com-
mittee. At this level, the bat-
tle focused on the proper role
of Congress in shaping
American foreign policy;
sponsors of the anti-PLO
legislation saw it as a wedge
that would help open the door
to Congressional leadership
in that process, and the Ad-
ministration regarded it as a
dangerous encroachment on
the responsibilities of the ex-
ecutive branch.
In this jurisdictional
footrace, the adminstration
was able to get its act
together faster than Con-
gress. One factor may have
been a general lack of en-
thusiasm for the anti-PLO
legislation, despite the im-
pressive lists of co-sponsors.
According to several Hill pro-
fessionals who worked on the
bills, many legislators did not
rank the PLO closing
measures as a top priority—
and some were concerned
about the constitutional im-
plications of the bills.

Rep. Jack Kemp will push to
close New York office.

According to this line of
reasoning, the State Depart-
ment decision was secretly
welcomed by some in Con-
gress, a fact that may bode
poorly for any effort to push
on with congresSional action
to close the New York office.
"It gets Congress off the
hook," said one House foreign
affairs specialist. "Either
way, it's going to be difficult
to defend the closing in court;
this way, the State Depart-
ment takes the rap. I think
that's what many members
are going to be thinking if
this comes up again."
Early reports suggested a
compromise between the ad-
ministration and the congres-
sional sponsors of the PLO
bills. But a spokespeyson for
Congressman Jack Kemp, a
key sponsor of the House bill,
indicated that the presiden-
tial candidate would continue
his efforts to close both the
Washington and the New
York offices, and that the con-
gressman "never negotiated"
with the State Department
over the closing measure.
Meanwhile, Sen. Robert
Dole, the most visible sponsor
of the Senate version, has not
yet decided about continuing
his efforts.
"There are a lot of other
things going on here that he
has to think about," said a
member of his staff.

The repercussions of the
State Department action are
not yet clear. Even before the
decision was announced for-
mally, the American Civil
Liberties Union was consider-
ing legal measures to block
the closing. "Of course, some-
one would have to request our
participation," said Morton
Halperin, Washington direc-
tor for the group. "But we are

strongly opposed to it, and we
intend to fight it at every
level. Our feeling is that the
administration took this ac-
tion to preempt Congress—
but whether Congress does it
or the Administration does it,
it's just as unconstitutional!'
Halperin adds that the
State Department never
claimed that the PLO offices
are being used for illegal ac-
tivities. "There is a very clear
freedom of speech aspect to
this," he said, "as well as all
kinds of international im-
Rabbi Eugene Lipman,
president of the Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis,
has been an outspoken critic
of the PLO closing— though
Lipman emphasizes that
these views are his own, not
those of CCAR. Lipman ar-
gues that the PLO is an "um-
brella" organization, contain-
ing both terrorist and more
moderate elements. The
Washington information of-
fice, he said, has not distri-
buted materials advocating
terrorism. "As a consequence,
I have to line up with the
ACLU and say, you don't have
to like them; it's what they
say that matters."
And a court wrangle over
the closing could provide the
PLO and its American sup-
porters with a dramatic for-
um for presenting their anti-
Israel views.
Other sources suggest that
the victory was largely a sym-
bolic one. The PLO, they point
out, can simply re-open their
offices under a different
name, avoiding the "foreign
mission" designation that
was the basis of the State
Department action. "They
could turn around tomorrow
and start doing business
under a name like 'The
Friends of the PLO,"' said one
House source who worked on
the Kemp proposal. "Then, it
would be business as usual."

Apology to

Last week, the House
passed a king-debated meas-
ure offering an apology to
Japanese-American citizens
interned during World War
11, and a Jewish group played
a leading role in promoting
the measure.
"This is an issue that is
close to the heart of the
American Jewish community,
because the internment of
Japanese citizens was based
on racial prejudice and fear,"
according to Jess Hordes,

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