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August 26, 1988 - Image 25

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

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

`The amount of
hatred in those
people was the
strongest I had ever
seen'

David Bonior wants a secure Israel and a Palestinian homeland.

collection of diplomats, government
leaders and PLO leaders, including
Yassir Arafat. But more important to
Bonior, he found time to make contact
with Palestinians in the streets.
"The amount of hatred in those
people, especially the young people,
was the strongest I had ever seen
anywhere. These people needed a
voice, they needed the world to hear
their side, and to take them serious-
ly. But because both the U.S. and
Israel were refusing to deal with the
PLO, I saw that we were creating
another generation of Palestinians
committed to violence, and this would
not be good for the future of Israel."
From that time on, Bonior has ad-
vocated a controversial, two-fold Mid-
dle East policy.

Bob McKeown

"U.S. policy should be to secure
the interests and existence of Israel
and to strive to develop a homeland
for the Palestinians. How to make this
happen, what the boundaries of the
Palestinian homeland should be,. how
can we insure Israel's security, all this
is the $64,000 question?'
Bonior has definite ideas about
how the two objectives should in-
fluence American foreign policy
toward Israel and the Middle East.
He said the United States needs
to communicate with as many Palesti-
nian voices as possible. He said clos-
ing the PLO offices in this country
was thoughtless and that Israel, too,
needs to strive for open communica-
tions. "It can't afford to shut the
Awads and other young leaders out if

it ever hopes to break the current im-
passe:' he said.
"It's frustrating to never know
where the PLO factions are on any
particular issue — they never seem to
get their act together. The two sides
have to begin talking, and that means
someone on the Israeli side has to
break the ice. I think an international
peace conference would be an impor-
tant step?'
Bonior opposes arms sales to any
country and said there is no need to
continue to militarize the world. But
he said, refusing to sell arms weakens
U.S. relations with too many coun-
tries and fails to protect Israel.
Although Bonior has not shirked
from making his views known over
the past six years, he harbors no illu-
sions about his ability to change the
course of events, either in the United
States or in Israel.
"Culturally and politically, the
American Israel lobby has been very
effective in winning both public and
congressional support, so I'm going to
always be a minority voice in Con-
gress. But it's important to have a few
people in Congress willing to raise
doubts or questions about what's go-
ing on.
As for prospects for peace in the
Middle East, Bonior is even less
sanguine. "I don't mean to paint a
totally black picture, but the trends
are not good. There are not enough
people in leadership on either side
willing to support the existence of
Israel and a Palestinian homeland,'
both absolutely essential?'
Bonior would like to establish

building blocks for the future by en-
couraging contact between younger
leadership on each side. These include
Likud members — like former Israeli
Ambassador the United Nations Ben-
jamin Netanyahu — who seem to have
an open mind on the issues.
Although Bonior's positions are
cause for concern among the leader-
ship of many Jewish-American
organizations, he's made a point of
keeping lines of communication open
with groups such as the American-
Israel Public Affairs Committee. "I
know they're frustrated with some of
my positions, but it's important for us
to keep talking."
Alan Gale, the assistant director
of the Metropolitan Detroit Jewish
Community Council, has met with
Bonior a numbr of times to discuss
Israeli issues.
"We're obviously disappointed
that Bonior has not always been sup-
portive of Israeli aid appropriations
over the years, but it's clear he's
always been deeply concerned about
Israel and has acted according to
what he felt was moral rightness."
Although the JCCouncil, AIPAC
and other groups continue to lobby
Bonior on Middle East problems, the
Jewish community in his district
seems to have broken off all contact.
In 1983, concerned about Bonior's
public statements protesting the
Israeli government's actions in
Lebanon, a delegation including
Marc Schwartz, then Mt. Clemens
Mayor Ada Eisenfeld and Beth
Tephilath Moses President Lou Davis
met with Bonior. Davis remembers
the meeting.
"He (Bonior) said he wanted to
befriend everyone, but I got the feel-
ing he was biased toward the Palesti-
nians," Davis said. 'We've given up
talking to him as a lost cause?'
Said Schwartz, "Our relationship
now is nil. We have nothing but con-
tempt for him."
"It's unfortunate and I feel badly
those folks feel that way;' Bonior said.
"But I try very hard to be fair as a
Congressman. I've voted for a number
of Israeli aid bills and signed petitions
for refuseniks:"-

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

25

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