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October 09, 1987 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-09

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tives—you could have a
radical secular state like
Syria, or a radical Moslem
state, like Iran. Neither one
would be good for Israel."
Most observers expect of-
ficial notification of the sale
to come this week in order to
give the Congress the re-
quired notification period and
the informal "pre-notifica-
tion" period before their
November recess.

Passport Safeguard

In the whirlpools of con-
troversy swirling around
Capitol Hill over issues like
the Bork nomination and the
massive military appropria-
tions bill, one issue with a
Jewish slant has received
scant attention in the press.
Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman
(R-NY) is sponsoring an
amendment to the State
Dep artment authorization
bill that would ask the State
Department to eliminate the
rule requiring information on
American passports about
the holders' nation of birth.
The amendment, which
does not attempt to legislate
the change but merely urges
the State Department to con-
sider the issue, is primarily
designed to protect American
citizens born in Israel who
might be singled out for
especially harsh treatment by
terrorists.
Because of this concern,
several other countries have
eliminated the country-of-
origin requirement, or left it
up to the individuals apply-
ing for passports. Austria
eliminated the requirement
after an accused terrorist ad-
mitted in court that he used
passports of his hostages to
identify passengers of Israeli
origin.
But the measure has been
opposed by the State Depart-
ment, which insists that the
information is useful in con-
trolling access to borders. If
America eliminates the re-
quirement, they argue, other
countries might be encour-
aged to do the same—which
would mean new immigration
headaches for the U.S. auth-
orities.
Interestingly, the legisla-
tion originated with consti-
tuents, not with activity on
the part of any organization.
Jewish and Cuban residents
of Rep. Gilman's district first
brought the passport issue to
the attention of the Con-
gressman. So far, there has
been very little interest in the
amendment by the major
Jewish groups or the Israeli
embassy.
In fact, there are indica-
tions that the Israeli embassy
is somewhat ambivalent
about the measure, since in
the past that country has re-

quired nation-of-origin infor-
mation on passports of people
trying to enter Israel.
The Gilman amendment
has already passed in the
House.

Appointment Fray

As the Bork nomination
battle moves towards its
dramatic denounement, there
is another confirmation bat-
tle in town, this one with a
direct connection to the cause
of Soviet Jewry.
Last week, Sen. Alfonse M.
D'Amato (R-NY) announced
his opposition to the appoint-
ment of William Verity as
Secretary of Commerce, to
replace Malcolm Baldridge.

D'Amato, a conservative
Republican, expressed strong
reservations about the ap-
pointment in a "dear col-
league" letter circulated
around the Senate last week.
D'Amato referred to com-
ments made by the Com-
merce nominee during his re-
cent confirmation hearings,
comments that seemed to
suggest strong and long-
standing disagreement with
the principle of linking trade
concessions to the Soviet
Union and improvements in
that country's human rights
environment. This notion of
linkage, of course, is the cor-
nerstone of the Jackson-Vanik
amendment.
In a statement on the
Senate floor, D'Amato called
"unconscionable and shock-
ing" Verity's previous opposi-
tion to linkage. Even stronger
objections were raised to
statements Verity made dur-
ing his tenure as co-chair of
the U.S:Soviet Trade and Eco-
nomic Council, including one
in which he said that the
American Jewish community
"can never be satisfied on this
matter; their desires will ever
be escalating."
As usual, the Soviet Jewry
groups are divided about the
issue. The Union of Councils
for Soviet Jews is strongly
opposed to the nomination.
"We are concerned about this
person being a focal point for
an effort to do away with
Jackson-Vanik, or to modify
it," according to John Rosen-
berg, spokesman for the
group. "He's not the kind of
person we'd want to see in a
position like this."
On the other side, the na-
tional Conference on Soviet
Jewry is taking a hands-off
attitude. According to a
spokesman, the group met
with Verity recently and
discussed the question of
linkage. "We had a positive
feeling about him," according
to Mark Levin, Washington
representative of the group.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

35

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