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October 12, 1990 - Image 102

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-12

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Writing New Laws

Continued from preceding page


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cause it hasn't been as easy
to be there."
The current U.S.-Iraq con-
frontation, he suggested,
has added a new dimension
to the already unpredictable
course of U.S.-Israeli rela-
tions. One result of the Gulf
crisis will be enhanced rela-
tions between Washington
and some "moderate" Arab
"Clearly there is a firmer
sense that we here in Amer-
ica have a common interest
with a substantial part of
the Arab world," he said.
"That becomes more clear
through this dispute, and in
a sense moderates the earlier
sense that it was only Israel
and Egypt that were our
allies. So that makes it a
more complicated situa-
But unlike most pro-Israel
voices in Washington, Mr.
Lieberman suggests that
this could be a positive de-
velopment for Israel.
"What has happened is
that the Arab world has
been changed in a way that
will not be repaired for a
long time," he said. "Egypt
has proved that it is possible
to be an ally of the United
States, and still be a strong
force in the Arab world. A
whole group of Arab nations
have been forced to take
sides — which will raise the
ability of this country to
mediate between the Arab
nations and Israel. That's a
positive outcome of all this."
It's never easy to assess
the performance of a Senate
newcomer —especially not
after less than two years on
the job.
But a wide range of Capi-
tol Hill observers suggest
that Sen. Lieberman has es-
caped the first-term strait-
j acket that confines so many
of his colleagues.
"He's been extremely suc-
cessful as a freshman sena-
tor," said Jess Hordes,
Washington director for the
Anti-Defamation League.
"He has been very good on
our issues. He has a good
ability to command respect
and attention. He's carved
out a niche for himself with-
out stepping on anyone's
"He is not a loner or a
headline grabber," said Mr.
Hoenlein of the Presidents'
Conference. "He works well
with his colleagues, and he
works hard. In the very
short time he has been in the
Senate, he has earned the re-

spect of his colleagues. This
is something I've heard from
many senators, both Repub-
lican and Democratic."
The folks at home in Con-
necticut — where Mr.
Lieberman served for 17
years as a state senator and
state attorney general prior
to his Senate election —
seem pleased, too.
"The word has been get-
ting back to us through the
national media that he's
held in high regard in Wash-
ington," said Stephen L.
Saltzman, president of the
Jewish Federation of
Greater New Haven.
Mr. Saltzman, a lawyer,
has known the senator for
years. "The community is
very proud of what he's done
so far," he said. "The fact
that he's taken on serious
issues like the environment,
and that he's been able to
gain a position of some in-
fluence even as a freshman,
is very impressive. But I
can't say that we're surpris-

His areas of
specialty are the
economy, the
environment and

Mr. Lieberman's Ortho-
doxy comes naturally. His
parents were both observant
and their home was Ortho-
dox. His wife, Hadassah,
with whom he has four chil-
dren, is also the product of
an observant home. When he
talks about the major in-
fluences in his life, he talks
mostly about rabbis —espe-
cially the rabbi who led his
family's congregation in
Stamford, Conn.
His only departure from
the Orthodox life style came
during college, at Yale Un-
iversity, where he earned a
law degree.
"Almost predictably, at
college I strayed from the
path of virtue," he said.
"Almost as predictably,
when I began having a fami-
ly, I came back."
In public life, he said, his
religious needs have posed
few problems.
"There have been very few
conflicts," Mr. Lieberman
continued. "Praying is a
very private thing. The di-
etary laws are things I can

take care of easily. It's only
when the holidays or the
Sabbath intersect with ses-
sion days that there's a
Occasionally, Mr. Lieber-
man has slept over in the
Senate's gym to avoid
traveling on Shabbat. He
has voted on Saturdays —
but he has clearly defined
the limits of his activity.
"I made a judgment when
I came here — I talked to a
couple of rabbis about it —
that since my vote is some-
thing I cannot delegate, that
I have a responsibility to the
people who elected me to
vote," he said. "In reality,
we stay over on a Friday or
Saturday only if it's some-
thing important. So I
vote... That's the only con-
The strongly religious
viewpoint he brings to the
Senate, Mr. Lieberman said,
has a broad impact on his
behavior as a legislator.
"I don't always see it ex-
plicitly," he said. "But I
know that some of my Jew-
ish upbringing, my religious
training, affects the way I
feel about certain issues. I'm
sure that this has something
to do about my feelings
about the environment. If
you believe in God as the
creator, you therefore see
the natural environment as
God's creation, and it seems
self-evident that you should
try to protect it."
His Orthodoxy has also
helped shape his conserva-
tive approach to law and
order, he added.
"My sense of the
imperfection of the human
species is part of why I tend
to be — I hate to use the
word because it's pejorative
— more conservative. I tend
to believe in stern law en-
forcement, because you have
to make people accountable,
you have to make them feel
the sting of the law. And I
understand that there's a
need for the use of force in
foreign relations; otherwise,
some nations will take ad-
vantage of other nations."
What frustrations he has,
he said, have to do with the
personal aspects of life in
the Senate. "It's a chal-
lenge, trying to maintain a
decent personal life, a family
life, while also being a sena-
tor," he said. "The hours are
long and unpredictable. You
try to work out some rules
for dealing with that — but
it is difficult." El

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