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November 18, 1988 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-18

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Bush Appointment Of Baker
Worries Pro-Israel Activists


Washington Correspondent


hen President-elect
George Bush chose
James A Baker 3rd
as the next secretary of state,
the only surprise was Bush's
But for pro-Israel activists,
the long anticipated choice —
as well as the likely appoint-
ment of New Hampshire Gov.
John Sununu to the influen-
tial post of chief of staff —
have some troubling aspects.
Baker, who served as White
House chief of staff and sec-
retary of the treasury under
Ronald Reagan and as cam-
paign director for Bush, has
been an outspoken supporter
of U.S. arms sales to Arab
In 1981, Baker was admin-
istration point man in the
landmark battle to sell
AWACS surveillance air-
planes to Saudi Arabia.
Baker's tactics on behalf of
the sale were cited by many
Jewish activists as a major
reason for the proposal's
razor-thin margin of victory.
"He's a pragmatist," said an
official with one major Jewish
group here. "His experience is
in economics — and the ques-
tion is, will this come at the
expense of broader policies?
It's hard to justify U.S. sup-
port for Israel on purely
economic grounds."
One pro-Israel activist here
said that if Baker decides to
press for concessions that
Israel considers unacceptable,
he'll put Israel in a very dif-
ficult position. "On the other
hand, if he decides to support
Israel whole-heartedly, he
could be a tremendous friend
because of this same power."
More troubling to to pro-
Israel activists here is the
likely naming of New Hamp-
shire Gov. John Sununu as
White House chief of staff.
Sununu is the only governor
to have rejected a proclama-
tion condemning the Zionism
as racism resolution and is
know for his conservative
Pro-Israel activists fear that
Sununu, who is partially of
Lebanese descent and is
known to have a close rela-
tionship with Bush, would
provide a top-level conduit for
pro Arab views into the Oval
A top official with the Bush
campaign insisted that Su-
nunu, as chief of staff, would
have no input into the foreign
policy process. But pro-Israel

activists are nervous. They
point out that the chief of
staff has unusual access to
the president and the ability
to control the access of others.
"I see this as the equivalent
of Dukakis winning and ap-
pointing Jesse Jackson his
chief of staff," said Steve
Silbiger, Washington repre-
sentative of the American
Jewish Congress.
Finally, there are concerns
about Sununu's right-wing
ideology. Active in the Na-
tional Association of Arab
Americans, Sununu has been
involved in the movement for
a constitutional convention
and has authored proposals to
allow states to abrogate
federal laws. As a Washington
newcomer with what some
sources have described as a
very aggressive personality,
there are concerns about how
he would get along with the
Democratic congress.
The outgoing governor was
mentioned initially as a possi-
ble choice for energy secre-
tary or secretary of commerce,
but Sununu made it clear
that he would reject either
Pro-Israel activists were
heartened, however, by the
appointment of the former
National Security Council
official Dennis Ross as co-
director of the foreign policy
transition team. Ross, a Mid-
dle East expert with a strong
record of support for Israel, is
known to have a good work-
ing relationship with newly-
appointed Secretary of State

Planning Trips
To Israel

Rep. Howard Berman, (D-
Calif.), is on his way to Israel,
where he will deal with some
of the thornier problems fac-
ing U.S.-Israeli relations.
Berman, an emerging fig-
ure in the Jewish delegation
on Captiol Hill will be speak-
ing to the Diaspora Institute
and the Dayan Center about
the effects of the elections in
both countries on American
Middle East policy.
Berman isn't the only high-
powered visitor to Israel; in
November and December, vis-
its are scheduled by Sen. Phil
Gramm, (R-Thxas), Sen. Larry
Pressler, (R-S.D.), Rep. 'Dom
Lantos, (D-Calif.). The Anti-
Defamation League of the
B'nai B'rith is leading a
group including Rep. Mat-
thew McHugh, (D-N.Y.), Rep.
Joel Hefley, (R-Colo.), Rep.

Dennis Hastert, (R-Ill.), Rep.
Mike Oxley, (R-Ohio), and
Rep. Barbara Vucanovich,
Another leader in the pro-
Israel delegation to Congress,
Rep. Larry Smith, D-Fla., is
in Hamburg, working on the
issue of counter-terrorism.
Smith is chairman of the
NATO Assembly subcommit-
tee on terrorism; in that role,
he is working to convince
other NATO officials that
sanctions against Syria for
that country's co-operation
with terrorist groups should
be continued.

Jackson Wooing
Jewish Vote
For 1992

In case anybody had any
doubts, the.first shots of the
1992 presidential contest
were fired last week as the
Rev. Jesse Jackson began try-
ing to build new bridges to
Jewish voters.

Jesse Jackson
Last minute wooing.

Last Wednesday, Jackson
appeared at a commemora-
tion of the 1938 Kristall-
nacht, sponsored by the Reli-
gious Action Center of the
Union of American Hebrew
Jackson's appearance at the
gathering was a last minute
addition. On Tuesday,
Jackson's primary Washing-
ton representative — political
consultant Ann Lewis —
made the rounds of Jewish
organizations, trying to find a
slot for a Jackson appear-
Jackson appeared along
with UAHC's Rabbi David
Saperstein, NAACP executive
director Benjamin Hooks and
District of Columbia Delegate
Walter E. Fauntroy.

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