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June 27, 2003 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-27

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This Week

ELECTION from page 23

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House also had its favorite Jewish
groups, sparking occasional gripes
among the Orthodox and politically
conservative groups that disagreed
with much of Clinton's agenda.
With the Oslo peace process domi-
nating much of the Clinton adminis-
tration's foreign policy agenda, those
groups that did not wholeheartedly
embrace the process, including the
Conference of Presidents, felt slighted.
Still, veterans of the Washington scene
say Jewish organizational leaders still
knew they would be called on when
the Clinton White House wanted to
sound out the Jewish community.
The shift under Bush is not merely
partisan, but represents a different
approach to engaging the Jewish corn-
munity, they say. "It's been more polit-
ical: We do for you, you do for us,"
one veteran Jewish official said.
Even leaders from Jewish groups
that have been favored by the Bush
White House — such as the American
Jewish Committee, which Bush
say this adminis-
addressed in 2001
tration differs from its predecessors,
and for some groups an understanding
of how to play the new political game
has helped them.
"This administration really does
insist on a certain code of behavior,"
said Jason Isaacson, director of govern-
ment and international affairs for the
AJCommittee. "If you sneak up on
them and you are unfair or unbal-
anced in your criticism of them, they
take offense."
Theories abound as to the rationale
behind the Bush administration's
approach. Some say it's because liaison
Adam Goldman, who is expected to
leave for the private sector some time
this summer, has been zealously parti-
san. Goldman's job at the Office of
Public Liaison is overseen by Karl
Rove, Bush's main political adviser.
Others suggest it's part of a strategy
to circumvent the organized Jewish
community, which tends to have more
liberal professional leaders, and let the
administration's actions on issues like
the Middle East speak for themselves.
David Frum, a former Bush admin,
istration staffer, said the new dynamic
between the White House and the
Jewish leadership is part of a move-
ment away from the Democrats who
lead most Jewish groups and toward
the general Jewish population, which
he believes is more supportive of
Bush's policies.
"It's perfectly reasonable that an
administration, when dealing with a
community, would tend to deal with
those more sympathetic to it," From

said.
Jewish orga izations realize that an
audience with the president is unlikely
to change Whi to House policy. But
the officials wa nt to feel that they are
being consulted and are part of the
process, as they did under previous
administrations.
They say the p roblem started before
Bush was even in augurated, when
Rabbi Daniel Lap in, a Seattle-area .
Orthodox rabbi, a nd conservative
thinker Murray Fr iedman were the
only Jewish officia s invited to a meet-
ing of religious lea ers to discuss the
president-elect's pla n for faith-based
initiatives.
The cold shoulder has continued to
the present, they say, with several
Jewish leaders compl aining they were
left out of a March m eeting with
Bush's national securi ty adviser,
Condoleezza Rice, on the road map.
Ironically, one Jewis leader said,



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President Bush and first lady Laura
Bush place a rose at the end of the rail-
road tracks during a visit to the
Birkenau concentration camp in Poland
on May 31.

many groups that would have upport-
ed the plan unconditionally we re not
invited. "They treasure loyalty o ver
and above everything," a Jewish leader
said of the current administratio n.
"They feel that because we weren 't
with them on everything, they w ren't
going to bother."

Preferred List

This stance has placed Orthodox
groups, such as the Orthodox Unio n
and Agudath Israel of America, on t he
list of preferred Jewish voices. Also
commonly welcomed are the
American Israel Public Affairs
Committee and the Conference of
Presidents, neither of which delves
into domestic policy issues.
In contrast, many other Jewish
groups have been vocal about their
groups
with Bush's faith-based
initiatives plan — which allows gov-

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