MIAMI BEACH (Aug. 20)
The Republican Party Platform Committee completed work today on a document with a Middle East plank which declares at the outset that “we support the right of Israel and its courageous people to survive and prosper in peace.” The plank also pledges “help in any way possible to bring Israel and the Arab states to the conference table where they may negotiate a lasting peace” as well as “economic and special refugee assistance to Israel.”
The planks on domestic issues contained stands on which there are sharp differences in the Jewish community. The Platform Committee said “it is irrevocably opposed to busing for racial balance” in American public schools and favored a system of income tax credits to aid “non-public as well as public schools.” But the Platform Committee also endorsed the merit system of employment in the federal civil service. Observers here said that, by logical implication, this meant Republican opposition to the “quota” or “proportional representation” approaches to aiding Blacks and members of other disadvantaged minorities about which there is almost universal opposition in the American Jewish community.
It was generally understood that the recommendations of the Republican Platform Committee reflect with little variance the views of President Nixon. The convention will open tomorrow with the platform slated for early consideration and action on Tuesday.
The Middle East plank also recommended that the United States continue to “prevent the development of a military imbalance” by providing Israel “with support essential for her security” and maintenance of “our tactical forces in Europe and the Mediterranean area at adequate strength.” But the plank made no reference to proposals by witnesses that the US recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the Democratic Party convention did in June.
‘PLIGHT OF SOVIET JEWS’ NOTED
Declaring that “all persons” have the “right” to emigrate from any country, the proposed platform declared “we are fully aware of and share the concern of many citizens for the plight of Soviet Jews with regard to their freedoms and emigration.” The committee said that “this view, together with our commitment” to the “United Nations Declaration of Human Rights” was made known to Soviet leaders during President Nixon’s discussions in Moscow.
Previously, Dr. Henry Kissinger, the President’s advisor on national security affairs, had said only that the subject was “mentioned.” Secretary of State William P. Rogers only last Monday confirmed that the subject “was discussed” at the Moscow summit meeting. The Middle East and Soviet Jewry elements, along with a pledge to help “multilateral organizations focus” on aircraft hijacking and international crime, were contained in the platform’s foreign policy section released by the Platform Committee on Aug. 18. The remainder in two sections, were made public later Friday and yesterday. Whether the Jerusalem transfer issue will be brought up for consideration Tuesday afternoon at the convention, for inclusion in the plank, was not known here last night.
Rep. John Rhodes of Arizona, Platform Committee chairman, held a news conference Friday at which he made public the foreign policy planks. He was asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s correspondent, Joseph Polakoff, why the committee platform did not recommend transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, a proposal made by the Republican House Minority leader, Rep. Gerald Ford of Michigan, by the Republican Assistant leader in the Senate, Robert Griffin of Michigan and also by the Federation of Young Republicans. Rep. Rhodes replied that the Platform Committee “did not document it” and that “the amendment was not offered on the floor and not acted on.” The JTA reporter also asked Rep. Rhodes whether Sen. Griffin and Rep. Ford had approved the draft in the committee’s platform and he replied that “not everybody approved it” and some party leaders “may not approve it.”
BUSING FOR INTEGRATION OPPOSED
On busing, the Platform Committee recommended commiting the party “to guaranteeing equality of educational opportunity and to completing the process of ending de jure school segregation” but added that busing for racial balance “fails its stated objective-improved learning opportunities-while it achieves results no one wants-division within communities and hostility between classes and races. We favor the neighborhood school concept.” Both the American Jewish Committee and the National Council of Jewish Women, in statements to the Platform Committee, had strongly favored busing as one tool to achieve racial integration in the nation’s public schools. Spokesman for Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umescrah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools had advocated support for non-public educational facilities, one proposal calling for tax credits for parents of children in non-public schools. The Platform Committee said “means which are consistent with the constitution can be devised for channeling public financial aid to support the education of all children in schools of their parents’ choice, non-public as well as public.” It called “the granting of income tax credits” one way to provide such aid.
A lengthy section on welfare reform criticized “discriminatory benefits” in the distribution of welfare but did not mention racial problems in such aid. The platform recommended that payments be made to “genuinely needed welfare recipients regardless of where they live.”
An appeal from the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers to the Republican Party to adopt “a program designed to include the alienated masses of white poor” Americans, including many Jews, was considered by the party’s resolutions committee in drafting its platform, the JTA was told. The association did not testify at the hearings on resolutions but a statement was submitted by S. Elly Rosen, association executive director.
In his statement, Rosen said he had testified to a House subcommittee in June 1971 concerning “the existence of more than 800,000 poor Jews in the United States and to the discrimination they faced in dealing with existing Office of Economic Opportunity community action (poverty) programs.” He said two government reports subsequently confirmed “the lack of participation by the Jewish poor in their programs.” But one year later, he said in the statement, “nothing has been done to remedy this injustice.”
In other issues of concern to Jewish communities, the Platform Committee also reaffirmed today the party’s support for “voluntary prayer” in “public places” strongly opposed by many Jewish organizations. The committee also denounced “scatter-site” housing for the poor which has come under sharp Jewish-led criticism, notably in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York.
The committee did not use the terms “quota” or “scatter-site housing.” Apparently in regard to quotas, the committee declared that “we pledge further modernization of the federal service system, including emphasis on economic development. We rededicate ourselves to promotion on merit, equal opportunity and the setting of clear incentives for higher productivity.”
The committee said, in apparent reference to “scatter-site housing,” that “we strongly oppose the use of housing or community development programs to impose arbitrary housing patterns on unwilling communities. Neither do we favor dispersing large numbers of people away from their homes and neighborhoods against their will. We do believe in providing communities, with their full consent, guidance and cooperation, with the means and incentives to increase the quantity and quality of housing in conjunction with providing increased access to jobs for their low-income citizens.”