STATEMENT IN BEHALF OF PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON
The imperative in the 1972 Presidential election for the Jewish community is simply to take part, as citizens and as voters, to help elect the best President for all Americans for the next four years.
President Nixon is running on his record–a constructive pattern of achievement which has produced for the United States a renewed leadership in foreign affairs and a productive redirection domestically after the turmoil and confusion of the previous years.
Internationally, the lessening tensions between the superpowers which has produced a real opening for a more lasting detente, must be marked as an historic achievement. The Journeys to China and Russia resulted in substantive accomplishment–most importantly the S.A.L.T. agreements–and Jews, as all Americans, must rejoice in the opportunity this creates for the future.
As we look forward to years ahead. It is within the context of our relations with the superpowers–most Importantly, Russia–that Jews must assess some of our international concerns–specifically the security of Israel and the plight of Soviet Jewry.
In the Middle East, Russia remains as a force which moves in a variety of stratagems against the interests of Israel, and US support and commitment to the security of Israel is a central fact vital to Israel’s survival. It follows that the President of the United States, in his crucial and unique foreign policy role, is the central figure and his understanding and background are important standards of assessment for voters who care for these issues.
President Nixon has had long experience in negotiating with the Russians and has proven that careful planning and effort from a posture of strength can achieve positive results. This cease-fire at the Suez Canal was negotiated by US diplomacy and for over two years has saved lives and aided the movement towards eventual peace negotiations.
IMPORTANCE OF STRONG DEFENSE POSTURE
The President met with a group of Jewish leaders recently and reaffirmed his commitment for a continuation of the positive US policy towards Israel which includes military and economic support and credits combined with diplomatic support, The latter aspect Includes the President’s emphasis that the US will not act to impose a peace either through the UN or as part of the major power groupings. The recent US veto at the UN, only the second In US history at the UN, is a significant Indication of American diplomatic and political support which Is additional to the material and economic assistance-more in the Nixon years than In all previous administrations combined.
The President emphasized also the importance of a strong American defense posture which Is a crucial support component of our foreign policy. Obviously, a cut of $30 billion In the US defense budget as advocated by Senator McGovern Is contrary to the successful initiatives of the Nixon record and would undercut any President if he seeks to be realistic in his approaches to the USSR. As Senator Humphrey said:
“Senator McGovern is proposing a 40 percent cut in our defense forces–cutting the Navy in half, and the Air Force by more than half–without any similar disarmament agreement from the Russians. It shocks me. No responsible President would think of cutting our defenses back to the level of a second class power in the face of the expanding Russian Navy and Air Force….”
The President’s approach in foreign affairs is
STATEMENT IN BEHALF OF SENATOR GEORGE S. MCGOVERN
In 1972. as in most Presidential elections since World War I, the overwhelming majority of American Jews will vote for the Democratic candidate. They will do so as citizens deeply concerned for the quality of American life and as Jews profoundly committed to the security of Israel and the fate of Soviet Jewry. The war in Vietnam, the rise in crime and drug addiction, mounting inflation and growing unemployment–these affect Jews as they do all citizens, and Jews will vote In response to these Issues. What about the issues to which they have a special sensitivity as Jews?
There are legitimate issues and there are fake ones in the 1972 campaign. In this year of the “Jewish vote,” it takes a sharp eye and an attentive ear to distinguish the true issues from the false ones.
Take quotas, for example. The Republican Party seeks to tar George McGovern with the brush of “quotas,” yet it was the Nixon administration that called on the City University of New York to furnish the race, sex, age and title of every faculty member, by name–or risk losing federal research funds. It was the Nixon administration that withheld millions of dollars from Columbia University and other prestigious universities because they weren’t proceeding rapidly enough with Nixon’s affirmative action program.
Adopting the strategy that the best defense is a good offense, the Republicans sought to divert attention from their own efforts to impose quotas on university hiring by attacking McGovern on the basis of the new rules at the Democratic National Convention. This tactic has made little headway among Jewish voters who are too experienced in their own organizational affairs to be deceived by any false comparison between a convention, on one hand, and employment or education, on the other.
Jewish voters readily understand that the delegates to a political convention are supposed to represent all the members of the party. It is essential, therefore, that the convention delegates fairly reflect the membership of the party in proportion to their numbers–just as a B’nai B’rith lodge with 600 members will have more delegates to the B’nai B’rith triennial than a lodge with 60 members.
This is how the Democratic Party in 1972 sought to insure the representation of groups that had been excluded in the past–particularly women, racial minorities and youth. (Interestingly enough, there were over 300 Jewish delegates at the Democratic Convention, more than at any previous convention–compared with 60 at the Republican Convention; so much for any thought that the new rules would diminish the Jewish role in the political process.)
OPPORTUNITIES OF MINORITY GROUPS
Obviously, merit is not the issue in selecting the delegates to a convention. But It is the issue In choosing applicants for Jobs or university admission. McGovern has made clear in this campaign that–as he put it in his letter to the American Jewish Committee–it is both necessary and possible to open the doors that have long been shut to minority group members without violating basic principles of non-discrimination and without abandoning the merit system.”
In that letter, and in his appearances before Jewish groups in this campaign. Senator McGovern has expressly repudiated the idea of quotas, declaring:
IN BEHALF OF PRESIDENT NIXON
that there is a logical relationship between a constructively involved foreign policy for the US and the defense component. A strong defense supports foreign policy alms and through a creative use of our strength we have a better chance to achieve detente and disarmament. the recent Russian troop withdrawal from Egypt reinforces this approach.
This logical connection is useful to analyze the McGovern approach to US policy towards Israel. His hawkish statements issued during and since the spring Democratic primaries are Inconsistent with his general approach: i.e., “Come home, America,” unilateral reduction in European force levels of US troops, and reduction of aircraft carrier level from 16 to 6.
Despite efforts to remake history, McGovern’s record in the Senate and House is far from that of an advocate or strong supporter of Israel. Rather It is a record of non-interest and misunderstanding with some conspicuously wrong votes, plus speeches in 1970-71 which called for the internationalization of Jerusalem, reparations by Israel to the Palestinians and restrictive use of the Phantom planes. The point about those speeches Is that they are consistent with the McGovern foreign policy. The Senator’s attempts to modify his positions on Israel because of his fear of alienating the large number of Jewish voter a In the spring Democratic primaries in New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio are understandable but hardly credible.
SOVIET JEWRY AND EMERGING DETENTE
The subject of Soviet Jewry must also be approached with an understanding that the emerging detente between the US and Russia can be a great positive for the movement towards peace and for Soviet Jewry Itself. The notorious exit tax has been widely condemned by public opinion and the President affirmed in his recent meeting with Jewish leaders that he felt that the diplomatic channels at all levels were the most effective for persuading the USSR to change its policy. He stressed that the US position should not be to set up a confrontation with the USSR and that to do so could bring about a result contrary to the desired one. The President also counseled against a “politicizing” of this subject and since the emigration figures to Israel continue to be much more substantial than In prior years, it is sincerely hoped that the part of the emigration which is affected by the tax can be benefited by the US efforts.
The substantial upsurge In Soviet Jewish emigration to Israel which began Just under two years ago has been partially funded financially by US aid and last year, the President waived immigration requirements to make It much easier for any Soviet Jews who wished to come to the US to do so.
Turning to domestic issues, Jews are still substantially settled in urban areas In great numbers and the stability, safety, and quality of their neighborhoods in this urban setting is of great Importance. For example, there are 1.7 million Jews in New York City (out of 2.4 million in New York State) and they, in addition to the large groupings in urban parts of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles face the next four years and the future beyond with a greater wisdom based on the experience of the 60’s. Many see in the continuation of President Nixon’s administration, a more realistic hope for an upgrading of the quality of urban 1.fe in housing, the war against crime and drugs, and education. There is an assessment also that
IN BEHALF OF SENATOR MCGOVERN
“I have pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to expand the opportunities for employment, for education, for housing and for personal growth and achievement for every citizen. I am confident that this goal can be reached In ways consonant with our basic commitment to the principle of full equality in a free society for all Americans.”
Israel has become an issue in this campaign, to the dismay of most thoughtful Jews. Since the founding of the Jewish State in 1948, Israel has been a matter of bi-partisan concern. Both parties have voiced support of Israel. Indeed, Israel was one of the few issues on which both parties were united.
That unity was broken by the Republican Party early in August with the formation of a Jewish committee for Nixon headed by Dr. William A. Wexler, former president of B’nai B’rith and past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Dr. Wexler gave this reason for supporting the President’s re-election:
“I have found the President readily accessible and sympathetic to our views on Israel and Soviet Jewry Just to mention two Important issues. I have implicit faith in him; I trust him completely. He has been a man of his word and I will do everything in my power to elect him.”
Senator McGovern’s reaction to this development was similar to that of most American Jews: “Americans of all political beliefs,” he said, “support the people of Israel in their struggle to build a life of dignity and security for themselves and their children. I would therefore urge my Republican opponent to place these concerns above partisanship in the 1972 campaign. The security of the State of Israel is not a partisan issue.”
But the Issue had been raised, and it was necessary to put it to rest. Senator McGovern drew the distinction between himself and Nixon–on Nixon’s three-year arms moratorium to Israel, during which McGovern helped lead the Senate campaign to demand that Nixon send the urgently-needed Phantom Jets to Israel; on the Rogers plan, which calls for Israeli withdrawal from virtually all the occupied areas and which remains US policy in the Middle East; on the votes of Nixon’s UN representatives, Joining the Soviet Arab bloc to condemn Israel five times, and abstaining on five other occasions; on Nixon’s tying American aid to Israel with appropriations for Vietnam.
Nixon’s commitment to Israel was one of cold war, balance-of-power politics, McGovern argued, adding: “Mine is a moral commitment; it did not begin with the Soviet military build-up in the Mediterranean. It will not end with their withdrawal.”
SOVIET JEWRY BACKFIRE
Soviet Jewry became an issue in the campaign when Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York said President Nixon had won agreement from Soviet Communist boss Brezhnev at the Moscow summit talks for an increase in Jewish emigration to Israel. This false claim backfired when Jewish leaders pointed out that the increase in emigration (to a rate of 35,000 per year) had taken place six months before Nixon went to Moscow–and that the situation of Soviet Jewry had seriously deteriorated since the summit.
Leaders of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry also pointed out that since the summit