and Jews, announced his own group
to mobilize Christian support for the
Jewish state. He will co-chair "Stand
for Israel" with Ralph Reed, the
Republican activist and former
Christian Coalition director.
Rally For Israel
On a related note, the Christian
Coalition this week announced plans
for a massive rally on Washington's
ellipse to demonstrate support for
Israel and opposition to a Palestinian
The event will also put pressure on
the Bush administration to move the
U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem. Despite President Bush's
promise to do so right after his inau-
guration, ground has not been broken
for a new embassy.
The Oct. 11 rally will take place
during the group's annual Road to
Victory conference — usually an event
focused on opposition to abortion,
homosexuality and feminism.
Planners hope to attract more than
100,000 Christians to the White
House, equaling the mostly Jewish
rally supporting Israel on Washington's
Mall this spring. The Road to Victory
conference usually attracts most of the
Republican congressional leadership,
and planners expect many of them to
attend the pro-Israel rally.
On Monday, the Senate confirmed the
appointment of Lavenski R. Smith,
commissioner of the Arkansas Public
Service Commission, to the 8th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, breaking the
legislative logjam between the
Republican administration and the
Democratic Senate over judicial nomi-
The Smith nomination was just the
latest skirmish in a high-stakes battle
that has galvanized a prominent Jewish
The National Council of Jewish
Women (NCJW) had opposed the
Smith nomination as part of its ambi-
tious Benchmark Project, an effort to
focus attention and spur activism on
judicial appointments that will shape
American society for decades and have
a major, possibly decisive, impact on
the issue NCJW members put ahead
of all others: abortion rights.
The NCJW judicial effort "is gener-
ating tremendous interest in the grass-
roots," said Sammie Moshenberg, the
group's Washington director. "The
response from our members has been
The group opposed Smith's nomina-
tion because of his "hostility toward
reproductive freedom, as well as his
notable lack of experience dealing with
cases involving federal constitutional
issues," according to a NCJW letter to
the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The group also pointed out that
Smith served as an officer of the
Rutherford Institute, "an organization
that openly questions the importance
of the separation of religion and state
and the authority of the Supreme
Court." But ultimately, Smith's nomi-
nation was approved after an agree-
ment between Majority Leader Tom
Daschle, D-S.D., and minority leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss., to free up votes
on judicial nominees.
That means a likely vote soon on
another controversial nominee
opposed by NCJW and other pro-
choice groups: Texas Supreme Court.
Justice Priscilla R. Owen, appointed to
the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court in Texas.
Hearings on the Owen nomination
scheduled for late this week have been
Moshenberg said the stakes in the
judicial nomination fight are enor-
mous for Jewish women. "President
Bush may have the opportunity to fill
up to 30 percent of federal judge-
ships," she said. "And we have to
remember these judges are appointed
for life; the nominations President
Bush makes today will have a huge
impact for years to come."
NCJW has set up a Web site,
to help Jewish women get involved in
the fight. "We know this is an uphill
battle," Moshenberg said.
"Historically, the Senate hasn't defeat-
ed a whole lot of presidential nomi-
nees at this level. And there are many
vacancies to fill, so there will be a lot
of battles. It's tough, but it's a fight we
have to make."
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Three weeks after the Supreme Court
upheld the constitutionality of
Cleveland's pioneering school voucher
program, Jewish activists on both sides
of the issue are busy planning their
Voucher supporters are "doing a lot
of strategizing" this month, said
Nathan Diament, director of the
Orthodox Union's Institute for Public
Affairs. The New York City-based OU
has been a leading supporter of vouch-
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WASHINGTON WATCH on page 26
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