(Editor’s note: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked both President Ford and Democratic Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter to answer a series of questions dealing with their positions on issues vital to the Jewish community. The questions were submitted to both candidates at the same time and both were asked to respond by a given deadline. Carter submitted his answers, which follow. The JTA is still awaiting Ford’s response.)
SUPPORT TO ISRAEL
Q. Do you pledge U.S. economic aid and political support to Israel as well as military assistance adequate to maintain its security and integrity as an independent Jewish State?
A. I certainly do pledge economic and military assistance to Israel adequate to maintain its security and integrity as a Jewish State, as well as political support. This aid should not be used in a carrot and stick fashion. Israel must feel secure in the support that it expects from America in order to take the necessary risks for peace.
I also believe the United States should not create the need for aid to Israel by eroding Israel’s security through uncontrolled arms sales to Israel’s adversaries. There must be a clear American policy on arms sales–particularly sophisticated offensive weapons. The present policy of selling arms simply to repatriate petro-dollars has won the United States neither greater influence in the area nor greater stability in the region.
THE SINAI PACTS
Q. What is your evaluation of the two Sinai agreements arranged through Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s diplomacy a year ago?
A. The Sinai pacts can form the basis of a meaningful, lasting peace. I believe, however, that there were a number of flaws in Secretary Kissinger’s diplomacy. First, overt pressure applied against Israel during the so-called "re-assessment" following the failure of the March 1975 shuttle was wrong. It strengthened the belief that Arab intransigence will ultimately produce American pressure for Israeli retreats without Arab reciprocity.
Second, shuttle diplomacy is no substitute for direct negotiations. Such negotiations should not be restricted to a final, overall peace conference.
Third, the Sinai pacts did not go far enough toward the normalization of relations. Greater concessions and a movement towards normalized relations could have been produced. Fourth, the emphasis in the Sinai talks was placed on military rather than political considerations. Any real peace must involve political and military settlements; that is the full range of normalized relations.
ROLE OF PLO
Q. Do you think the PLO is the group with which to deal in approaching a solution to the Palestinian problem: if not the PLO, then with whom? Would you support the PLO as an equal partner in any resumed general conference on the Middle East?
A. The PLO is not the group to deal with in solving the Palestinian problem. The PLO is an alliance of guerrilla organizations, not a government in exile. The PLO is unrepresentative of the Palestinians and unelected. The PLO should not participate as an equal partner in any resumed Geneva peace conference because the PLO’s stated aims are diametrically opposed to any peace which envisions the continued existence of Israel.
At this time, any movement towards a solution to the Palestinian problem must emanate first from the Palestinian themselves. Any emerging Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel’s right to exist permanently and in peace as a Jewish State in the Middle East. Palestinians who seek to be included must abandon the PLO’s methods of terror. The Palestinian leadership must control those ever present extremist elements who are unwilling to accept political compromise. The current actions and statements of the PLO strongly suggest the political evolution necessary for Palestinian inclusion in the peace process has yet to occur.
SOVIET JEWS, ARAB BOYCOTT
Q. How do you think the U.S. can move the Soviet Union to increase immigration? Do you favor linkage of legislations such as the Jackson, Vanik and Stevenson provisos as a means to this end? What ways would you propose that the U.S. seek to keep those people in the Soviet Union who wish to remain there but also wish to practice their religious belief and cultural life?
A. The Administration must put human rights high on its foreign policy agenda. The Helsinki treaty of comprehensive security and cooperation in Europe was supposed to lead to greater personal freedom for the people of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, including greater freedom to travel, to marry, and to emigrate. In the last 13 months, the Russians have all but ignored their pledge–and the Ford Administration has looked the other way.
I would do everything I possibly could as President to encourage the Soviet Union to liberalize its emigration policies for Jewish citizens who want to move. I would not hesitate to use trade pressures to effectuate that purpose….In all my negotiations, in my private discussions, and in all other relationships with the Soviet Union, one of the advantages I would hope to secure for our country would be the release or the freedom of Jews from Communist Soviet Union.
Q. Would you support federal legislation with teeth to combat the Arab economic boycott? If so, outline examples of legislation you would advocate.
A. I favor federal legislation to combat the Arab boycott. I believe the bills now before the Congress and included in the Export Administration Act and the Tax Reform Act can provide an effective means of neutralizing the boycott. I believe that there must be effective implementation of these laws by the executive branch. I would make sure that the government applies these laws vigorously. Compliance with the boycott abandons those principles of equal protection and equal rights upon which the United States was founded.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, HOUSING, BUSING
Q. What is your opinion of HEW and Labor Department guidelines on affirmative action procedures which are asserted to promote reverse discrimination?
A. I have the affirmative action program. I think that if someone wants to move into a neighborhood or go to a school, he should not be excluded because of race or religious beliefs. I do not believe in quotas. This year (in the Demo- cratic Party) we made the first good step, where you try to treat everyone the same, not exclude anybody because of group membership, but also not exclude other groups because you want to favor a particular group.
Q. What is your opinion of U.S. policies regarding busing and housing which have been asserted as seemingly weakening the stability of neighborhoods?
A. For too many years, urban policy has been an enemy of the neighborhoods. We have sent in bulldozers and called it urban renewal. The government has not given neighborhoods a chance to make it on their own. The government has stacked the tax deck against the neighborhoods. When a homeowner spends a little money fixing up his house, the assessor raises his taxes. Republican tight money and the Republican recession reduced the percentage of families who can afford their own homes from more than fifty to only thirty-two.
In many neighborhoods, when you look down the street, and see a vacant lot or a boarded-up house, chances are the government is the owner. If we are to save our cities, we must revitalize our neighborhoods first. Under the Republicans, the FHA and HUD have become threats to the health of our neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Housing Services program should be made available to the neighborhoods where it can make a difference. We need a national law against redlining and federal regulatory officials who understand that banks are chartered to serve their communities. We need honest officials in HUD. We must make homes available to our people again.
Q. Do you favor a form of tax relief to parents whose children attend non-public schools?
A. I am firmly committed to conducting a systematic and continuing search for constitutionally acceptable methods for providing aid to parents whose children attend non-segregated private schools. I have met often with parents and teachers of children who attend such schools. All are proud of the religious and cultural heritage of their schools. But all are deeply worried by the financial crisis that threatens the existence of such education in America.
There is more at stake than just buildings and classrooms. At stake is the right of millions of Americans to choose a religious education for their children. This right lies at the core of America’s diversity and strength. It is a right we dare not lose by default. While I was Governor of Georgia, voters authorized annual grants for students attending private colleges in Georgia We must develop similar, innovative programs elsewhere for non-public elementary and secondary schools to maintain a healthy diversity of educational opportunity. In many areas of our country, such schools provide the best education available. Recognition of these facts should be part and parcel of the consciousness of any American President.