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August 04, 1989 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-04

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

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JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correpspondent

R

ecent congressional
action on Middle East
matters brought two
new groups into the political
fray. Friends of Peace Now's
Middle East Education Pro-
ject, which opened shop here
in March, played a role in ef-
forts to defeat an amendment
to the State Department
authorization bill limiting
the dialogue with the
Palestine Liberation
Organization.
The group's Washington
director, Paul Scham, said
that his focus was more on
education than on lobbying.
"The primary thing I've
tried to do is present our
group's belief in the absolute
necessity of keeping current
channels of communication
open, and in fact of opening
new ones."
In addition to its embryonic
activities on Capitol Hill, the
group is attempting to assem-
ble a national network with a

special emphasis on college
campuses.
And the Jewish Peace Lob-
by made its lobbying debut in
the recent fight over a bill
criticizing Israel for closing
schools in Gaza and the West
Bank.
The group is the brainchild
of Jerome Segal, the Univer-
sity of Maryland scholar
whose proposals for a "Peace
initiative" by the PLO played
a part in the dramatic events
last year leading to the open-
ing of contacts between this
country and the PLO.
In recent weeks, the group
lobbied hard for a bill by Rep.
Howard C. Nielson, R-Utah,
which — in its early versions
— criticized Israel for the
school closings.
"I think it was tremendous-
ly important legislation,"
Segal said. "It was the first
time the Congress addressed
itself directly to the intifada.
Implicit was the message that
Congress is concerned about
some of the methods Israel is
using in dealing with the in-

tifada."
Segal's group presented
Congress with a letter- from
fifty rabbis supporting
Nielson's original school re-
opening measure.
B'nai B'rith International
was quick to blast the new
lobbying group.
"The Jewish community
doesn't need an indigenous
organization claiming to
speak for Jews, but ad-
vocating for a Palestinian
state," said Tom Neumann,
the group's executive vice
president. "Also, these people
don't have a history of being
advocates for the state of
Israel. Where do they come in
now, saying Israel has a right
to exist, but also advocating
for a Palestinian state?"
Segal seems undaunted by
his critics. "We're organizing
local units, with people in 27
states," he said. "We have 125
rabbis who have endorsed us.
We have a functioning
Washington office. I think
we're moving in a pretty good
direction."

Lieberman In Demand
On Kosher Circuit

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-
Conn., has become a big draw
on the kosher chicken circuit
in recent months.
Since his election last
November, Lieberman, the
only Orthodox Jew in the
Senate, has been inundated
with requests to speak before
Jewish audiences.

somewhere."
At first, Lieberman opted
for a low profile — in part to
avoid becoming identified ex-
clusively by his religion, in
part to give him some time to
learn the ropes in the Senate.

But now, Lieberman is pop-
ping up more and more on the
Jewish circuit. Recently, he

appeared at Lubavitch and
Agudath Israel dinners, as
well as a yeshivah event in
New Jersey. More ap-
pearances are in the works.
"His being observant at-
tracts people," Lewan said.
"Jewish groups all over the
country want him; right now,
the biggest problem we have
is saying 'no' kindly."

Will Jews Take Heat
For New Gun Laws?

Sen. Lieberman:
More and More

"He's in hot demand," said
Mike Lewan, Lieberman's
chief aide. "A day doesn't go
by that a yeshivah, a Chabad
group, doesn't want him

28

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 1989

Last week the issue of anti-
Semitism was injected into
the rancorous battle over ef-
forts to limit assault weapons.
A recent article in the
Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
criticized Jewish groups for
supporting gun control
measures.
"What I call 'Jewish gun
hate' has reached a point that
I fear a violent retaliation
against Jews — particularly
those that publicly denounce
the Second Amendment to
the Constitution — by hun-
dreds of thousands of ex-
tremely angry gun owners,"
wrote Aaron Zelman, a
Milwaukee gun dealer.
The story, which was
reprinted in the national

publication Gun Week, went
on to mention Sen. Howard
Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, who is
pushing a stringent anti-
assault weapons bill in the
Senate.
The article was uncovered
by a gun control group and
passed along to the Religious
Action Center of Reform
Judaism in Washington; the
group is in the process of
writing a letter to Gun Week.
Other Jewish groups are ex-
pected to sign on to the letter.
An aide to Metzenbaum in-
dicated that the article was
being reviewed, but insisted
that the senator would not be
dissuaded by attempts to
raise the specter of anti-
Semitism.

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