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October 12, 1990 - Image 35

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

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

INSIDE WASHINGTON

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

Jerusalem Riots Tangle
Iraqi 'Linkage' Issue

Project Interchange
Honors Sen. Packwood

T

Last week, Project Inter-
change, the Washington-
based group that sends state
and local officials, educators
and other groups to Israel on
fact-finding missions,
honored one of its staunchest
supporters on Capitol Hill.
At a fund-raiser attended
by more than 200, the group
honored Sen. Bob Packwood
(R-Ore.), one of Project Inter-
change's founders and a
member of the board of di-
rectors.
"He's been an invaluable
resource to the project," said
Aviva Meyer, Project Inter-
change's executive director.
"He thought it was very im-
portant for policy-makers
here to see things for them-
selves in Israel — to be able
to stand on the Golan
Heights and look down at
this tiny country."
Mr. Packwood's vision, she
said, helped make Project
Interchange one of the most
effective ambassadors for
Israel in the American polit-
ical realm.
The Packwood dinner rais-
ed about $63,000 for the
group, which has maintain-
ed a full lineup of trips this
year despite the threat of
war in the Middle East.
"We've had congressional

tion between the occupation
of Kuwait and the Israeli
presence in the occupied ter-
ritories. It's very damaging
timing."
Last week, President
George Bush provoked a
wave of anxiety by sug-
gesting that when the Per-
sian Gulf crisis is resolved,
the international commun-
ity could then turn its atten-
tion to the Arab-Israeli con-
flict.
Despite an almost immed-
iate White House clarifica-
tion, there was a growing
sense among pro-Israel ac-
tivists that the president's
comments represented only
the latest in a series of
carefully dropped hints that
the administration is offer-
ing a new push on Arab-
Israeli peace as a "carrot" to
ensure continuing Arab
support for the Persian Gulf
operation.
"Once you bring some-
thing like this into the
public domain, you're
creating the impression of

George Bush:
A new tangle.

moral equivalence," said
Dan Mariaschin, director of
public policy for B'nai B'rith
International. "I'm very
concerned that we're getting
drawn into making this kind
of connection; we're setting
in place a perception that
may have serious implica-
tions later on, when the Iraq
situation has clarified
itself."

Despite Hard Times,
Peace Now Seems Well

The weeks since Iraq roll-
ed over Kuwait have been
tough ones for Israeli peace
groups.
But Gail Pressberg does
not consider her new job a
bit of unlucky timing. Ms.
Pressberg, who recently took
over as co-director of Wash-
ington's Center for Israeli
Peace and Security — an of-
fice of American Friends of
Peace Now — sees this as a
time of potential opportunity
for those interested in Mid-
dle East peace.
"Everybody is much more
nervous as a result of the
situation in the Gulf," she
said. "It's very hard to watch
what's taking place now; the
rules of the game have been
changed. Still, many of the
underlying issues are the
same; the Gulf Crisis may
help everybody to take a
more sober view of the alter-
natives available to Israel."
Saddam Hussein's aggres-
sion has caused the group
and its parent — Israel's
Peace Now — to re-examine
some of its basic assump-
tions.
"The Iraq situation has
redrawn the board for us,"
Ms. Pressberg said. "We
have real differences with

the Palestinian community
in their support for Saddam
Hussein. We've been mak-
ing it very clear where those
differences are."
Before coming to Peace
Now, Ms. Pressberg served
as executive director of the

Foundation for Middle East
Peace in Washington.
"I decided this was where I
wanted to be," she said.
"First and foremost, this
organization supports Israel.
The Gulf crisis has only rein-
forced this position."

Jewish Groups Backing
Immigration Reform Bill

A possible presidential
veto is also on the minds of
supporters of the landmark
immigration reform bill,
which cleared its last major
congressional hurdle last
week.
"We strongly believed that
the immigration process
needed reform after 25
years," said Judy Golub, as-
sociate Washington repre-
sentative for the American
Jewish Committee.
"This bill meets both
human goals and business
needs. It will have profound
implications on American
citizens who want to be
reunited with family mem-
bers."
The bill will make it easier
for some groups, including

skilled workers and those
with relatives already in
this country. The measure
would also raise the overall
immigration ceiling from
540,000 to 775,000 per year.
Currently, a conference
committee is working out
differences between the
House and Senate versions.
The administration has
worked hard against the bill
— a position that disturbed
Ms. Golub.
"We've been puzzled with
their opposition," Ms. Golub
said. "This is a pro-family,
pro-business, pro-labor bill.
The only people who really
oppose it are those who are
mislead about the impact of
immigration on American
society."

Bob Packwood:
"Invaluable resource."

staff groups, legislative
groups from Michigan and
Ohio, and educators from
Northern California," Ms.
Meyer said. "We also had
trips for youth leaders in
San Francisco, for a group of
Air Force cadets who worked
on a kibbutz, and for
Unitarian leaders."
Generally, the group's ac-
tive program has been unaf-
fected by Saddam Hussein's
threats against Israel. A
group of congressional aides
took off for Israel under Pro-
ject Interchange's auspices
only a week after Iraq's in-
vasion of Kuwait.

Argentina Chief's Aid
Sought For Syrian Jews

The plight of Syria's 4,000
Jews keeps getting buried
under the weight of more
monumental world prob-
lems. And efforts on behalf
of the Syrian Jewish popula-
tion are complicated by the
fact that Syrian president
Hafez Al-Assad seems
unusually impervious to
world opinion.
But last week, a group of
Jewish activists in Washing-
ton tried a back door ap-
proach to dealing with the
intractable government of
Hafez Al-Assad.
The effort took place dur-
ing a meeting with Argen-
tina's president, Carlos Saul
Menem, who was in Wash-
ington for the International
Monetary Fund meetings.
At a meeting set up by
B'nai B'rith International,
Mr. Menem was urged to use
his influence with Assad to
ease the plight of Jews in
Syria.
Why Mr. Menem?
"He's is in a unique posi-
tion ," said Warren
Eisenberg, director of B'nai

B'rith's International Coun-
cil. "He is of Syrian descent;
his brother, Munir, is am-
bassador to Damascus. He's
one of the few people outside
Syria who could possibly get
through to Assad."

Fending Off
A Rights Veto

Jewish and civil rights ac-
tivists stepped up the
pressure last week to fend off
an anticipated veto of the
Civil Rights Act of 1990, a
measure that seeks to over-
turn a series of recent
Supreme Court decisions
that made it harder for
employees to prove discrim-
ination cases against their
employers.
Jewish groups are par-
ticipating in a vigil across
from the White House
designed to remind the pres-
ident of the broad coalition
that supported the bill — a
signal that a veto would be
poor politics.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

35

I EN I I L Ma I

his week's violence on
the streets of
Jerusalem could not
have come at a worse time,
according to a number of pro-
Israel activists.
The clash between Pales-
tinians and Israeli forces,
and the worldwide re-
focusing of attention on the
Israeli- Palestinian problem,
come at a time when the
administration seems to be
succumbing to international
pressures to find a diplo-
matic solution to the con-
frontation with Iraq — a set-
. tlement that could well in-
volve Israel as a bargaining
chip.
"I think we need to be
cautious in casting blame for
this incident," said an offi-
cial with a major Jewish
organization. "But
regardless of what the in-
vestigations show, it has al-
ready re-focused world at-
tention on the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict at a time
when Israel's enemies are
trying to make the connec-

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