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August 26, 1988 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-08-26

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U.S. Rep. David
Bonior has made a
name for himself as
one of Israel's most
outspoken critics on
Capitol Hill


Special to The Jewish News

Bonior meets with Mt. Clemens constituents on the campaign trail.

0 n the surface, U.S. Rep.
David Bonior doesn't ap-
pear to be controversial.
The 42-year-old
former probation officer
has an extensive resume, including
four years in the U.S. Air Force dur-
ing the Vietnam War and his current
position representing a fairly conser-
vative district which covers most of
Macomb and St. Clair counties. He
also holds the respected position of
chief deputy whip, the fourth highest
leadership position for the
Democratic majority in the U.S.
House of Representatives.
So it is ironic that Bonior has ,
become an outspoken critic of the
Israeli government and United
States' policy in the Middle East. He



introduced a resolution in May call-
ing for Israel to drop all charges and
stop deportation proceedings against
the Palestinian activist Mubarak
Awad. He's been consistently in favor
of the sale of Maverick missiles to
Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations.
He's been vocal in opposing United
States' efforts to close down the
Palestine Liberation Organization of-
fices in New York and Washington.
And he periodically votes against
foreign aid to Israel.
Considering the strong majority
support that Israel receives from the
Congress in general, and Bonior's
sensitive position as a party leader,
some people suggest it is odd that
Bonior chooses to be so out of step
with his colleagues on the Middle

East issue.
"I often ask myself that same
question," Bonior said. "I don't real-
ly want to be out front on these dif-
ficult issues, but I seem to gravitate
toward them. My position on the Mid-
dle East and my strong opposition to
military aid to the Nicaraguan Con-
tras is not really consistent with my
position in the party leadership, but
they're important issues to me. They
deal with war and peace and the fun-
damental issues of democratic govern-
ment — they're what make me tick."
Bonior wasn't always a maverick
on Middle Eastern issues. When he
was first elected to Congress in 1976,
he had strong support from a small
Macomb County Jewish community.
"We had the finest relations with

him. We campaigned for him and rais-
ed money for him. But after his trip
to Lebanon in 1982, he's been just a
thorn in our side," said Marc
Schwartz, a member of Beth
Thphilath Moses Synagogue in Mt.
Bonior agrees that the trip to
Beirut after the 1982 Israeli incursion
into Lebanon was a watershed in his
thinking pattern.
"In college, I majored in modern
German history, so naturally I learn-
ed about the Holocaust and was con-
vinced of the need for a strong Jewish
state. I went to Congress with the
view that Israel could do no wrong."
But in Lebanon, Bonior and his
congressional colleagues who joined
him on the trip talked to the usual

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