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April 17, 1992 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-17

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

INSIDE WASHINGTON

I

Biden Frustrates
Jewish Activists

JAMES DAVID BESSER

Washington Correspondent

J

ewish activists are ex-
asperated over the
slow progress of the
Religious Freedom Restora-
tion Act, the legislation that
would overturn the Supreme
Court decision in the so-
called Peyote case. The bill
was introduced in the House
last year.
The problem is in the
Senate. Repeatedly, Jewish
groups, which have made
the bill their top domestic
priority this year, have been
told that Sen. Joe Biden, D-
Del., a principal co-sponsor,
was on the verge of introduc-
ing the bill.
But the senator has held
back, and many Jewish ac-
tivists are troubled: An
overcrowded congressional
calendar and the pressures
of election-year politics
mean that a narrow window
of opportunity for the bill is
rapidly closing.
At a recent Senate
Judiciary Committee ses-
sion, Mr. Biden indicated he
was ambivalent about the
bill, which is vigorously
opposed by Catholic groups.

The senator admitted he
was "reluctant to bring it
up" and is "less enthusi-
astic" about the bill than he

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36

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 1992

Sen. Joe Biden:
"Less enthusiastic."

had been. But he insisted
that he has "no intention of
doing anything to slow it
up."
There are signs that Mr.
Biden and other key legis-
lators are shrinking from a
fight with the Catholics, who
are pushing an alternative
bill that is unacceptable to
every Jewish group in the
religious freedom coalition.
"The senator has a great
opportunity to advance re-
ligious liberty and earn the
gratitude of a wide range of
religious organizations,"
said Judy Golub, legislative
director for the American
Jewish Committee. "We
can't understand why Mr.
Biden has not vigorously
moved this bill."

Actor's Newsletter
Excerpts Israeli Press

Even for the solons of
Capitol Hill, Israel's ex-
uberant politics remain
something of a mystery.
A group headed by actor
Richard Dreyfuss is trying to
change that by distributing
a new newsletter, For the
Record, to every House and
Senate office.
The publication consists of
excerpts from Israel's feisty
newspapers.
"The idea," said Donna
Bojarsky, the actor's polit-
ical liaison, "is that to pro-
mote a strong Israel-
Diaspora relationship, peo-
ple who advocate policies for
the Middle East must see
what ordinary Israelis —
and their opinion leaders —
are reading every day."
For the Record's goal is to
provide information on
Israeli public opinion — and
to illustrate that Israel is not
monolithic on peace and
security matters.
Each issue also profiles a

Richard Dreyfuss:
Publishes pro-Israeli newsletter.

prominent Israeli journalist.
Ms. Bojarsky stressed that
the new publication does not
represent a single point of
view in Israeli politics.
Illuminating Israel's polit-
ical diversity, she said, can
encourage debate in the U.S.
on Middle Eastern security
issues.

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