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June 07, 1996 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-07

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

"The odds are
t that Bibi
will be making
more than
just token
concessions to
[O rt hodox]
gro ups."

Opposite page, top:
The prime minister— and the prime minister-elect
— part after a Tuesday meeting on the transfer of

Above: An Orthodox Israeli casts his ballot at a
polling station in the Mea Shearim district of

Right: Prime Minister-elect Binyamin Netanyahu
acknowledges his supporters.

Regardless of the origins of that cau-
tious support, it's now payoff time: both
groups are well positioned to enjoy good
access to the new Netanyahu government,
and both will play an expanded role in
Washington as Israel's new leaders strug-
gle to deal with a U.S. government that
bet the farm on the Labor regime — and
"For the past few years, U.S.-Israeli re-
lations have been unusually close because
the policies of the Labor government were


Opposite, bottom:
Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat refused to
comment on the vote after praying at a Gaza

This page, top: Sipping the fruits of victory with
Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu, second from left,
were Likud stalwarts David Levy, Rafael Eitan and
Ariel Sharon.

brakes on a peace process that remains a Party's peace policies lose for another rea-
son: they will be forced into a kind of ac-
top foreign policy priority in Washington.
That same dynamic means that groups tivism they criticized when it was coming
on the American Jewish right will enjoy from Likud activists.
Groups such as the Israel Policy Forum
a moral victory with Mr. Netanyahu's win
— but, after the initial glow of the elec- complained bitterly about the growing
toral revolution in Israel fades, a practi- Washington activity by Likud Party offi-
cials seeking to undercut the policies of
cal defeat.
The most vehement American oppo- the Rabin and Peres governments.
Now, these groups will have to do much
nents of the peace process can now boast
with more authority that a majority of Is- the same to counteract what they un-
raelis, albeit a slim one, agree with them. doubtedly will see as dangerous Israeli
At the same time, these groups are un- policies — the same rationale used by the
likely to find themselves elevated to a cen- Likud lobbyists.
Groups such as the Association of Re-
tral role in American Jewish life. Put
simply, Mr. Netanyahu needs AIPAC form Zionists of America that have
more than he needs the Zionist Organi- worked for religious pluralism in Israel
zation of America. If relations with Wash- are big losers as Mr. Netanyahu cuts
ington deteriorate, that preference will deals with the Orthodox parties that fared
unexpectedly well in last
become even more pro-
week's Knesset elections.
nounced as Mr. Netanyahu
"The odds are that
seeks a buffer in his deal-
Bibi will be making
ings with officials here.
more than just token
Several days after the
concessions to these
election, Americans for a
groups," said a leading
Safe Israel issued a state-
Reform figure in this
ment calling for "sweeping
country. "Especially if
changes" in the main-
the religious parties
stream organizations be-
come in as a bloc, there's
cause of what the group
the danger that this new
sees as a pro-Labor bias.
government will move
That is unlikely to happen;
very far in their direc-
instead, it is the highly
tion, including a change
adaptable mainstream
in the Law of Return,
groups that will benefit
conversion registration
from Mr. Netanyahu's elec-
and those kinds of
tion, not the hard right.
things. We could be look-
The Jewish left won't
ing at a very bitter and
fare much better.
divisive fight."
For the past four years,
Orthodox groups
groups such as Americans
ranging from the Union
for Peace Now and Project
of Orthodox Jewish Con-
Nishma enjoyed a new
gregations of America to
stature as they worked
the Chabad organiza-
hand in hand with Israeli
tion, which is becoming
officials to expand political
a major political force in
support for the peace
will be flying high
—A leadi ng Reform figure
as much of the religious
But with the electoral
and cultural agenda of
about-face in Israel, they
their Israeli counter-
once again will be on the
parts becomes a matter
outside, fighting govern-
ment policies and probably fighting the of government policy.
Jewish fund-raisers also are likely to
major pro-Israel groups that will shift
ground to support the policies of the new face new crises.
Israel has always been the spur to do-
Israeli government.
They also will have a harder job keep- nations that benefit both Israeli and do-
ing attention focused on the peace process mestic concerns; the turn to Likud rule
itself as the Jewish community is forced and the likely slowdown of a peace process
into a more defensive political mode to that a majority of American Jews support
fend off administration and congression- probably will result in new problems for
groups such as the United Jewish Appeal.
al criticism of changing Israeli policies.
And that could trigger a ripple effect
But there may be a silver lining: being
in opposition gives these organizations through the Jewish philanthropic world
wider latitude in framing the issues their — one more legacy of the decision made
own way, not as an Israeli government by Israeli voters last week. ❑
sees them and not according to an often
artificial consensus in the American Jew-
ish community.
Organizations that support the Labor

fully consonant with those of the Clinton
administration," said a leading pro-Israel
activist here. "The big organizations like
AIPAC saw their role diminish because
they weren't necessary as intermediaries;
[Yitzhak] Rabin or [Shimon] Peres could
pick up the phone, talk to [Warren]
Christopher or [Bill] Clinton, and get
what they wanted."
But the turn back to conservative
Likud rule will again make both groups
indispensable as Mr. Netanyahu puts the

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