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April 28, 1995 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-04-28

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

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Newt Is Misunderstood,
Say Jewish Republicans

JENNIFER FINER STAFF WRITER

I

he Jewish community has
no reason to fear Newt
Gingrich.
Those were the senti-
ments expressed by Murray
Spilman, who was in Washing-
ton last month where he heard
the speaker of the U.S. House
of Representatives talk about
the Republican agenda.
"He doesn't scare me," said
Mr. Spilman, Farmington Hills
Republican. "What he says
makes sense, and he knows the
needs of the country."
Jewish Republicans said that
Jews in general do not under-
stand this Georgia representa-
tive who leads the U.S. House
of Representatives.
"He is more complex
than he appears to be,"
said Denise Alexander,
an attorney and Re-
publican activist.
"Those who work close-
ly with him find he is
sensitive to issues that
are near and dear to
me as a Jewish Re-
publican. I don't agree
with him on all the is-
sues. For example, I'm
pro-choice. But, he is
not a single-issue
politician." Jewish De-
mocrats and some
Jewish social-service
organizations acknowledge Rep.
Gingrich is good for the Jews on
an issue like Israel. The con-
gressman has pledged uncon-
ditional support for the Jewish
state. However, when the issue
turns to the welfare arena, an
increasing number of Jews fear
the Republican Contract With
America could hurt social-ser-
vice delivery in the Jewish com-
munity.
"We have to accept Republi-
can support of items on our
agenda," said David Gad-Hart,
the executive director of the
Jewish Community Council. "In
politics, there are no permanent
friends and there are no per-
manent enemies. Many politi-
cians are supportive of parts of
the so-called Jewish agenda. It's
not an unusual circumstance.
The challenge lies in acquaint-
ing them with our perspective
and seeing if we can make
progress in shifting their atti-
tudes.
"We in Detroit have a limit-
ed impact on the thinking of
Newt Gingrich. Our primary fo-
cus is on the Michigan con-
gressional delegation," where

the JCCouncil hopes to influ-
ence the support on some of
Rep. Gingrich's proposed legis-
lation.
Dr. Jerry Faverman, a pro-
fessor of political science at
Michigan State University and
a senior consultant with the
Faverman Group, feels the Re-
publicans and Rep. Gingrich are
isolating themselves from Jew-
ish support. He believes Jews
in this country, while concerned
about Israel, want their gov-
ernment to be in sync with ma-
jority Jewish thinking on
domestic issues.
"The bottom line is Jews in
America view themselves as

"We in Detroit
have a limited
impact on the
thinking of Newt
Gingrich."

— David Gad-Harf

Jews in America and what hap-
pens here is first on their agen-
da," Dr. Faverman said. 'While
we don't want an administra-
tion that's hostile toward Israel,
I think life in America is more
important to most Jewish
Americans."
Ms. Alexander said the Con-
tract With America is not as
bad for the Jews as some por-
tray it.
"The Jewish community is
dependent on the success of its
business leaders and a lot of
what's been proposed in the
Contract is good for those busi-
nesses."
Still, many Jews are fearful
of Rep. Gingrich and believe he
is aligned with the religious
right.
"People need to recognize
the Contract is not looking
to adopt far- right policies.
I think he (Gingrich) is try-
ing hard to differentiate be-
tween what's perceived as
the far-right agenda and
what is the agenda of the
Contract.. He may be very
vocal, but I don't think he is
radical."

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