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January 18, 1991 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-18

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



"This fateful shift was
undertaken without Con-
gressionial consultation or
approval and many of us
feared the consequences.
Congress is now faced with
the consequences. The mas-
sive show of offensive
strength has not forced
Suddam Hussein out of
Kuwait, and Congress is
now asked to support the
next step in a policy of
escalation which many
opposed. Supporters of war
authorization at this time

urge that it represents the
best weapon to force Saddam
Hussein to withdraw
peacefully. I acknowledge
that possibility. So must its
proponents acknowledge
that war authorization is in-
deed a two-edged sword
which could become an in-
strument of war instead of
one of peace."
Rep. Ben Jones, a
Democrat from Decatur, Ga.,
voted with the president.
Jones is not Jewish, but in
the past year he has become


a favorite on the pro-Israel
Jewish activists were
pleased that the nationally
televised debate did not
dwell on the "linkage" ques-
tion —and that there were
no hints of an anti-Semitic
backlash in the endless
series of speeches.
"Some people have been
surprised that the debate
has not generated any kind
of backlash against Israel,"
said Mark Talisman, direc-
tor of the Council of Jewish
Federations Washington Ac-
tion Office and a Washing-
ton veteran.
"We tend to underestimate
the strong interest there is
in the security of Israel in
Congress. In this debate,
there was a good recognition
that any way the Gulf situa-
tion goes, Israel is targeted. I
was very impressed by the
sober and sophisticated tone
of the debate."

A Shift In Tactics

Rep. Stephen Solarz of New York,
sponsor of the resolution
supporting President Bush.

Rep. Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Saturday's dramatic vote
came against the backdrop
of a shift in tactics among
pro-Israel organizations.
Until the debate began,
there was a strong consensus
in the Jewish community
that its members ought to
remain in the background as
the nation began thrashing
out issues of war and peace.
But when Congress took
up the issue in earnest, that
consensus broke down.
Early in the week, a deci-
sion by the Conference of
Presidents of Major Ameri-
can Jewish Organizations

supporting President Bush
signaled a new effort by Jew-
ish activists on Capitol Hill.
"There was a feeling all
along that the Jewish com-
munity supported Bush's
goals in the crisis," said Jess
Hordes, Washington director
for the Anti-Defamation
"But nobody wanted to get
ahead of the president — so
we didn't want to get into
lobbying. But when it
became clear that the issue
would be dealt with on the
Hill, it was decided that it
was now time to express our
Rep. Larry Smith of
Florida and Rep. Ben Cardin
of Maryland criticized the
pro-Israel community aban-
doning its low-profile stance
in the closing days of the
"It's best for the organized
groups to take a low profile
position," Mr. Cardin said.
"I saw no reason for them to
get actively involved. Each
member of the group is
laboring on this vote; outside

lobbying groups are not par-
ticularly effective. I suspect
some of the Jewish groups
were urged to get into this
by the White House."
Because of the risks, Jew-
ish groups were unusually
At the American-Israel
Public Affairs Committee,
the premier pro-Israel
organization, the lobbying
was mostly left in the hands
of the lay leadership, not the
professional lobbying staff.
The American Jewish
Committee, the Anti-
Defamation League and the
Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America
were also part of the effort to
weigh in on the Gulf resolu-
"We're calling people in
support of the bill," said
William Rapfogel, director of
the OU's Institute for Public
Affairs. "We're not trying to
beat them over the head;
we're just emphasizing that
this is a critical issue for us,
as Americans, not just as
Jews." ❑

Most Important,
A Sense Of Humor

The hottest-selling T-
shirt in Jerusalem this
past week is one that
reads, "I Survived
January 15 in Israel."
Most buyers were Ameri-
can tourists planning to
leave before that date.
Another popular item is
a Saddam Hussein 1991
calendar that shows only
15 days in the year.
Israelis are a hearty lot,
and for all their worries,
they have maintained a
sense of humor. Some ex-
amples, based on conver-
sations this week with
friends in Jerusalem and
various newspaper ar-
• Stores have signs in
their windows proclaim-
ing that they will accept
checks dated January 16.
• Tel Aviv Mayor
Shlomo Lahat, noting
how crowded his city is,
commented: "It takes a
missile five minutes to fly
here from Iraq, but by the
time it lands and finds a
parking place, it'll be two
• An American friend
living in Israel for a year
describes the situation.

Israeli tee shirts are a gauge of
the nation's ability to laugh at

"Are we worried?" he
asks, repeating my ques-
tion. "This is a country of
Jews — it's our civic duty
to worry."
• Stockpiling food for
their specially sealed
rooms, some Israelis said
they were buying deli —
and Saddam was supply-
ing the mustard. ❑

Gary Rosenblatt



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