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March 02, 1990 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-02

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

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30

FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 1990

I INSIDE WASHINGTON

Consensus On Religious Rider
May Secure Civil Bill's Passage

.

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

T

he fracas over Jewish
participation in the
Civil Rights Act of
_ 1990, which seeks to overturn
a series of Supreme Court
decisions making it more dif-
ficult to prove job discrimina-
tion, appears headed towards
a settlement.
At a meeting last week, a
number of religious groups
thrashed out strategies for
promoting religious accom-
modations legislation -
without detracting from the
broader civil rights package.
Religious accommodations
legislation would protect
workers whose religious
practices necessitate special
"accommodations" from
their employers — including
Sabbath-observing Jews.
Controversy arose when
the American Jewish Con-
gress proposed adding re-
ligious accommodations
language to the civil rights
bill. Other Jewish groups
supported the idea of some

Stephen Solarz:
Bill supported.

kind of religious accom-
modations bill — but argued
that amending the civil
rights package would
jeopardize its passage
through Congress.
At last week's meeting,
which was attended by
Catholic and Baptist groups
as well as a long list of
major Jewish organizations,
an informal consensus was

hammered out to support a
separate religious accom-
modations bill by Rep.
Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), and
possibly to add additional
language to broaden that
legislation.
Effort will be made to
attach the Solarz bill to the
civil rights package — a pro-
spect that worried civil
rights activists who hope to
keep their bill amendment-
free.
The tentative settlement
was facilitated by indica-
tions that the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights,
the umbrella civil rights
group that drafted the Civil
Rights Act, would support the
Solarz legislation.
The American Jewish
Congress will apparently go
along with this emerging
consensus. "Look, it's what
we're going to get," said
Marc Stern, co-director of
the American Jewish Con-
gress Commission on Law
and Social Action. "If it's go-
ing to help us get both bills
through Congress, it's a good
thing."

Activists Rejoice Over
Jackson-Vanik Results

It was a day of unabashed
sentiment for longtime Jew-
ish activist Mark Talisman,
Washington director for the
Council of Jewish Federa-
tions, and a day of triumph
for his onetime boss, Charles
Vanik, the former Ohio con-
gressman who crafted the
Jackson-Vanik amendment
that was a cornerstone of
U.S. human rights strategy
in dealing with the Soviet
Bloc.

The occasion was the ap-
pearance of dissident-
turned- president Vaclav

Havel before a joint session
of Congress.
"It was an amazing per-
sonal experience, a very
emotional experience,"
Talisman said. "We had
been working on Most
Favored Nation status for
Czechoslovakia. Rep. Vanik
returned to the Capitol in
triumph; his one heartbreak
when he left office was that
he didn't stay in office long
enough to see this."
In the 1970s, Talisman
was a top aid to Rep. Vanik,
and played a pivotal role in
the Jackson-Vanik amend-

ment that used preferable
trade arrangements with
East Bloc countries as a
lever to improve emigration
policies in those countries.

The revolution in
Czechoslovakia, Talisman
argued, represented the
ultimate proof of the effec-
tiveness of the Jackson-
Vanik amendment.
"The point is, it worked;
Rep. Vanik lived to see the
day the amendment could be
waived honorably. It's exact-
ly the model he had in
mind."

Anti-Apartheid Activist
Cancels ADC Speech

The American Arab Anti-
Discrimination Committee
(ADC) will have one less
speaker at its upcoming na-
tional convention in Wash-
ington.
Originally, the group was
slated to hear a keynote ad-
dress from Rev. Alan
Boesak, a leading South
African anti- apartheid ac-
tivist.
The announcement sent
ripples of concern through

the Jewish anti-apartheid
community; in the past, Jew-
ish groups here have worked
closely with Boesak on a
number of issues, including
the controversial question of
sanctions against the
Pretoria government.
Now comes word that the
anti-apartheid crusader has
canceled his Washington
appearance.
Officially, the cancellation
is the result of the dramatic

release of black African
leader Nelson Mandela.
Unofficially, Boesak's
decision may have been due
to input from a number of
Jewish activists around the
world, who argued that such
an appearance would rein-
force the parallel that Arab
groups have tried to draw
between Israel and South
Africa.
The issue comes as black
and Jewish congressmen

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