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January 04, 2007 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-01-04

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

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"His brief presidency was very sig-
nificant for the movement," said Mark
Levin, executive director of the NCSJ,
which advocates for Jews across the
former Soviet Union.
"By signing into law the Jackson-
Vanik Amendment, which was one of
the pillars of the Soviet Jewry move-
ment, as well as being president when
the Helsinki Accords were imple-
mented, which provided the interna-
tional community a tool to confront
the Soviets directly on their human
rights abuses, particularly as they
impacted the Soviet Jewish population
— for that his administration will
be remembered within the American
Jewish community"
As a congressman from Michigan
and Republican minority leader in the
House of Representatives, Ford attend-
ed a rally for Soviet Jewry in 1971 at
Madison Square Garden in New York.
Malcolm Hoenlein, who had
just become head of the New York
Conference on Soviet Jewry and today
is executive vice chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major
Jewish Organizations, recalls that Ford
spoke "very movingly, very forcefully"
at the New York event.
Appointed by Richard Nixon follow-
ing the resignation of Vice President
Spiro Agnew, Ford became president
after Nixon resigned in August 1974
during the Watergate scandal. He
remains the only president never
elected either president or vice presi-
dent.
In Ford's first appearance before
a Jewish audience after entering the
White House, he spoke before a dinner
organized by the American Friends of
Lubavitch in Philadelphia honoring
Rep. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania.
He also addressed a B'nai B'rith
convention and the American Jewish

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Committee during his presidency.

Ties To Max Fisher
Ford also met frequently with his liai-
son to the Jewish community, the late
businessman and philanthropist Max
Fisher of Franklin, Mich.
According to Quiet Diplomat: A
Biography of Max M. Fisher by
Peter Golden, "Ford and Fisher had
deep respect for each other.
"As the year passed, Fisher devel-
oped an amusing anecdote, which he
used whenever he introduced him at
diners and fundraisers. 'Jerry Ford and
I have a lot in common, Fisher would
begin. 'We went to college on partial
scholarships. We washed dishes to
earn spending money. We played cen-
ter on our football teams: he for the
University of Michigan, me for Ohio
State. He became president. And I
became rich' — Fisher smiled — 'bet-
ting with him on Ohio State-Michigan
football games'"
Their connection helped rebuild
administration ties with the Jewish
community that had been frayed by
profound differences with Nixon on all
issues except Israel.
Taking over from Nixon, Ford kept
Henry Kissinger as secretary of state,
mindful of the delicate diplomatic
fabric that emerged in the Middle
East after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Kissinger's intensive shuttle diplomacy
and Ford's active interest culminated
in a truce between Israel and Egypt in
1975.
That truce, and the quiet that
ensued, laid the groundwork for the
1978 Camp David peace accords
brokered by Ford's successor, Jimmy
Carter.

JN Staff Writer Harry Kirsbaum

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contributed to this report.

1199540

'Decency, Moderation, Patriotism'

Excerpts from a statement by the American Jewish Committee:
On this national day of mourning for President Gerald R. Ford, the
American Jewish Committee remembers with deep respect and appre-
ciation the 38th president of the United States. We recall his lifelong
devotion to our nation, including his distinguished wartime record in the
Pacific and his decades of devoted public service in Washington as well
as his active support for Jews in the Soviet Union and for Israel's quest
for peace and security ...
On the Middle East, President Ford continued the strong American
tradition of bipartisan support Israel, declaring: "My commitment to
the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as
enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own
heritage."
Noted AJC Executive Director David A. Harris: "President Ford's last-
ing legacy will be that this man of decency, moderation and patriotism
proved our nation's democratic institutions to be secure and strong at a
critical moment in America's history."

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January 4 • 2007

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