NEW YORK (Jul. 15)
The issue of Soviet Jewry, which some consider to be the weakest plank in the platform adopted by the Democratic National Convention, is expected to get more specific attention during the upcoming election campaign.
Only hours before Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in a first ballot victory last night, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told that one of his top aides met with members of the New York delegation to the convention and representatives of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in an attempt to reassure them on the former Georgia Governor’s stand.
This reassurance was seen as strengthened when Carter announced the selection today of Sen. Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. The new Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate is a supporter of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and during a visit to the Soviet Union in November, 1974, he visited the homes of several Jewish activists (See separate background story on Mondale.)
Stuart Eizenstat, an Atlanta, Ga. Jew and Carter’s issues director, who met with the group concerned with Soviet Jewry yesterday, told them that Carter accepts the Democratic Party’s platform. The platform mentions Soviet Jewry only by implication but one source said that everyone understands that it means that the Democrats support the struggle for Soviet Jews to be allowed to emigrate.
CARTER’S PLEDGE RECALLED
Eizenstat read a statement made by Carter in May in which the Georgian said: “I would keep the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to other countries as one of the pre-eminent considerations in all of my negotiations with the Soviet Union. In my private discussions, in trade negotiations and in other relationships we would discuss mutual advantages between their country and our country” Carter said one of the advantages he would seek is the emigration of Jews from the USSR.
Carter, in public statements, has said he prefers quiet diplomacy in seeking emigration for Soviet Jews. But one source said today that while Carter wants to carry out personal diplomacy. It does not mean he would be unwilling to use pressure such as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment if he felt it was necessary. Many of the participants at the meeting were reportedly convinced although they are expected to seek more public assurances.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the JTA, David Berg, deputy director of the Carter campaign’s Jewish community coordination or the “Jewish desk” at the Atlanta campaign head quarters, said that ” Jimmy Carter in so sound on the issues that concern us (American Jews) that I have no fear in answering” the question, “Will he be good for the Jews? He will be good for America.”
Berg, a 34-year-old Houston lawyer, who is a member of the United Jewish Appeal’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, said he would like to go to sleep one night without worrying about Israel and believes that with Carter, Israel will have a friend in the White House.
During the convention, Berg and Mrs. Harriet Zimmerman, of Atlanta, who is director of the “Jewish desk,” met with Jewish delegates who had been elected in support of Sen. Henry M. Jackson of Washington and California Gov. Edmund Brown to convince them to back Carter.
Berg noted that Carter expected Jews to back Jackson but after Jackson dropped out he was surprised and concerned that Jews did not support him. Mrs. Zimmerman who was active in Jewish affairs in Boston before moving to Atlanta, was first named to the Carter staff and Berg joined it later in Atlanta.
Berg said Carter has had a series of meetings with Jewish leaders in the weeks before the convention. He said Jackson has been very helpful in opening doors to the Jewish community. The Houston lawyer said that he plans to visit 14 metropolitan communities during the campaign. “The selection of Mondale will make our task that much easier because of his marvelous voting record” on Israel and other issues of concern to the Jewish community.