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May 12, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-12

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Jewish Groups Helping Shape
U.S. Policy Regarding WHO


Washington Correspondent '


ehind the story of the
recent flurry of Con-
gressional action on
the Palestine Liberation
Organization-World Health
Organization (WHO) con-
troversy lies an intriguing
story of hard-headed strategy
by pro-Israel activists here
and of a Congress interested
in staking out a role in the
ever-shifting sands of Middle
East policy.
"When the dialogue open-
ed, we were under strong
pressure to push the ad-
ministration to break it off,"
said an official with a major
Jewish group. "But I think
there was a consensus that we
could not win that battle. In-
stead, people began looking
for something we could win,
something that would be pro-
ductive in terms of the peace
At the same time, Congress
was in the market for an issue
that would give legislators a
greater part in shaping the
emerging dialogue.
"Congress was in no posi-
tion to challenge the ad-
ministration on the PLO deci-
sion back in December," said
a staffer for a leading pro-
Israel legislator. "But since
that time, there has been a
growing frustration that the
administration was calling
all the shots and that they
didn't seem to have a clear
idea of what the target was."
When the WHO issue came
up, this aide said, it seemed
tailor-made for a Congress
eager to stamp its imprint on
the peace process.
Another factor was the
widespread perception that
WHO had remained relative-
ly untainted by international
politics. "With all the famine
and the epidemics in the
world, there was a feeling
that WHO should be pro-
tected against this kind of in-
fection," said Warren
Eisenberg, director of B'nai
B'rith's International
Pro-Israel lobbyists, accor-
ding to a number of observers,
played the issue to perfection.

B'Nai B'rith
Finds Funds
For Internees

The issue of compensation
for Japanese-Americans in-
terned during World War II
just won't go away.
Last year, Jewish groups

participated in a successful
drive to legislate a compensa-
tion package. But the effort
quickly ran afoul of the
federal deficit; in his last
budget, President Ronald
Reagan called for only $20
million in funding, an
amount several Jewish ac-
tivists involved in the fight
termed an "outrage."
In recent weeks, Jess
Hordes, Washington
representative for the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith, has participated in
complex negotiations that
have resulted in -a tentative
decision to fund the program
at a level of $250 million. "It's
less than we hoped, but
something that made us feel
pretty satisfied," Hordes said.
But the saga does not end
there. The compensation
package got caught up in the
"supplemental appropria-
tions" bill that recently went
back to the drawing boards in
Congress. And in the Senate,
there are hints that Sen.
Jesse Helms, (R-NC.), and
Sen. Ernest Hollings, (D-S.C.),
are readying a legislative am-
bush that would force a rerun
of last year's contentious
debate on the compensation

Sen. Dennis DeConcini, (D-
Ariz.), deals with a much nar-
rower list of weapons, and
does not provide for registra-
tion of weapons. Both bills are
the subject of an all-out
assault by the National Rifle

Several Bills
Would Tighten

Just as the debate over
changing this country's legal
immigration procedures
comes to a boil, one of the key
figures in the controversy will
be leaving the cutting-edge
organization he created.
Rick Swartz, president of
the National Immigration,
Refugee and Citizenship
Forum, has played a pivotal
role in efforts to introduce
more fairness and flexibility

Supports New
Gun Control Bill

Jewish groups continue to
be in the thick of the battle on
Capital Hill to ban so-called
"assault weapons."
"One of the points we've
tried to emphasize is that
every time there's a bust of a
group like The Order and the
Ku Klux Klan, police find
these kinds of weapons," said
Nisha Shrier, who is working
the issue for the American
Jewish Committee. "The
absence of serious federal
regulation has brought us to
the point where these groups
are able to build private
arsenals of sophisticated
weapons that have been used
in crimes against minorities."
The AJCommittee is lining
up support for the stringent
assault weapons bill spon-
sored by Sen. Howard
Metzenbaum, (D-Ohio), which
would ban the import and
sale of some 25 designated
assault weapons — including
the kinds of weapons turned
in up in a recent raid of a
Washington boarding house.
That raid also uncovered a
stash of Nazi paraphernalia.
A less severe proposal by

Pushing immigration bill.
into immigration laws — a
balance that is proving ex-
cruciatingly difficult to at-
tain. He will be leaving the
Forum in June, but plans to
remain active in
immigration-related issues.
Currently, the fight centers
on several proposals — in-
cluding a bill authored by
Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D-
Mass.), and Sen. Alan Simp-
son, (R-Wyo.), and another by
Sen. Paul Simon, (D-Ill.), that
would change some of the
basic rules regulating the
flow of legal immigrants.
"The issues involved here
are tremendously complex
and emotional," Swartz said.
"Should we be • increasing,
stabilizing, or decreasing
legal immigration? Should we
be shifting away from
families, and toward educa-
tion and skills as the basis for
admission? And what is the

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