WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
Now that the Presidential primaries have been completed, the second act of America’s quadrennial political drama begins in Washington tomorrow. The Democratic party chieftains will begin assembling their platform at the Statler Hilton Hotel over a long, and probably hot weekend. By July 1,the party’s program must be in the hands of its delegates for studying, before they gather at the convention in Miami Beach July 10 to ratify it and nominate their standard bearer. The Republicans will go through the same process in August. The only major technical difference is that the GOP will perform both its platform building and nominating in Miami Beach.
The significance to the Jewish community of both parties’ platforms this summer takes on an importance that seems to be broader and deeper than in previous Presidential election years. To the problems of the Middle East are added the consuming Soviet Jewry issue, racism, terrorism on the airways and a host of domestic, social and economic subjects of special concern to the Jewish urban masses within the larger Jewish community.
Despite their reputation as a homogeneous group, Jews appear as deeply divided as the remainder of the country’s people on such issues as tax support for private schools, busing, scatter site housing and the civil service merit system. However, it has also been observed that the numerical proportions within the Jewish community on any given subject such as Vietnam, for example, may be quite different from the country’s population as a whole. On some matters, the Jewish community is virtually unanimous. Party leaders and Presidential candidates have long recognized that with respect to Israel’s security and the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate, America’s Jews are unified. Nevertheless, the platform builders cannot fail to underline their recognition by spelling it out in specific terms in these times of insistence on having promises in writing.
For example, the security of Israel has been repeatedly assured by both parties. It is essential, however, that given the natural tendency of politicians to move towards compromise to effect solutions, that the platforms insist that the US government continue to stand by its present policy of “non-imposition,” meaning that in the Middle East, agreement must be reached by the parties themselves and is not to be imposed from the outside.
Furthermore, the platforms can assert firmly that the US government recognize Israel’s sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and that as proof of that recognition, it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within one year at the latest. In this matter, President Nixon has an advantage. He can order the move immediately. However the Democrats can pledge that if their candidate should win, the American embassy will be in the Holy City within say 90 days after he takes office. Moreover, the Democrats can score a clean beat on Mr. Nixon by making it a part of their platform this weekend.
For Soviet Jewry the issue is more complex, as the almost complete official White House silence on what happened in the Moscow summit conference proves. Obviously the Nixon administration feels it cannot go beyond what little it has said on an issue which Presidential adviser Henry Kissinger has explained, the Soviet government regards as an internal matter. There also may be other reasons for the silence. Nevertheless, ways are open to make this issue a permanent part of the American creed.
The United Nations declaration on Human Rights has recognized that a moral matter is not “internal.” The right of a person to leave his country and return to it is law. Both political parties, therefore, can commit themselves to the proposition that this agreement to which the Soviet Union is signatory, is a factor in every bilateral commitment made by the US with the Soviet Union. This is not to say that Jews alone are affected by this principle of human rights. All peoples are included and none is to be excluded.
American Jews would applaud the parties for declaring racism anywhere repugnant to the US and making that part of the American creed. If it is immoral for the Soviet Union to suppress human freedoms, then it is also immoral for white governments in Africa to do it. The outlawing of racism and bigotry, whether practiced in the style of Rhodesia or Syria or by an American domestic group, is fundamentally anathema to Jewish thought. This has been clearly shown in the frequent appeals by Jewish leaders to the Senate for ratification by our government of the United Nations Genocide Convention. A plank endorsing that ratification also would be welcomed.
Another matter that the Jewish community would expect in both platforms is a demand on the American government to call on the world’s nations to adopt stern measures to combat sky-jacking and terrorism at international airports. The lines for Congressional support to the President have already been set down in the resolutions presented by members of both parties in both houses, notably by Sens. Ribicoff and Percy and Rep. Badillo, in the wake of the massacre May 30 at Israel’s Lydda Airport.