BALTIMORE (Mar. 9)
Jerold Hoffberger, president of the United Israel Appeal and former president of the Council of Jewish Federations, today announced his endorsement of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D. Mass.) for the Presidency. He stressed his endorsement was personal and not in the name of the organizations with which he is associated.
Asserting that President Carter’s “inept” handling of United States foreign policy “renders the President’s commitment to Israel virtually meaningless,” Hoffberger said he supports Kennedy because “He has stood for a foreign policy that reflects the ideals of our nation. He recognizes the necessity for a strong and consistent U.S. position in support of Israel. He understands that the bands between the U.S. and Israel, deeply rooted in moral commitment and common political, social and religious values, are founded on a realistic view of our country’s own security interests.”
Hoffberger added that Kennedy in his 17 years in the Senate “has also stood for compassion toward the less advantaged in our society, for economic growth and social justice and for an international policy that upholds our vital national of interests.”
MEETINGS WITH JEWISH LEADERS
Meanwhile, the U.S. vote March 1 for the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements and President Carter’s subsequent repudiation of the vote has become a major issue among Jewish voters. With the Florida primary scheduled for Tuesday, Carter supporters have been trying to prevent a backlash among that state’s 436,000 Jews. Kennedy, who had earlier been prepared to concede Florida along with Alabama and Georgia, has been making a last-minute concerted effort in the Miami area.
Over the weekend it was announced that Robert Strauss, the President’s campaign manager, and Sol Linowitz, Carter’s special envoy for Middle East negotiations, have asked about 60 Jewish leaders to meet with them in New York tomorrow.
Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick was in Miami Friday where he addressed a group of mostly-Jewish residents at a North Miami Beach condominium on this Tuesday’s important Florida primary elections. According to press reports, Klutznick, who is an leave as president of the World Jewish Congress, said he believed the President when he said the UN vote was the result of a communications failure. “I believes him…. And I say do not judge him by a single act,” Klutznick was quoted as saying.
Ronald Reagan, who is considered the favorite in the Republican primary in Florida, told a news conference in Miami yesterday that the Carter Administration’s acknowledged mistake in voting for the UN resolution demonstrated its “gross incompetence” and “raises fundamental questions about Mr. Carter’s real attitudes and intentions toward Israel.” The former California Governor called on Carter to state unequivocally that “the United state unequivocally that “the United States will not endanger Israel” and to “stop playing political roulette with Israel’s vital national interests.”
George Bush, who is Reagan’s chief rival in the Florida GOP contest, called the incident “another example of the Carter Administration bullying our friends and another example of vacillation.” Bush said the UN resolution is a “good example” of his criticism of Carter “for vacillation” and “for failing to keep commitments.”
Farmer texas Governor John Connally, another Republican contender, said Carter’s disavowal of the UN vote makes him “the most cynical politician to occupy the White House in my lifetime.” He said despite the President’s renunciation of the vote “the undeniable reality is that the Carter Administration has weakened American’s commitment to Israel’s security as a sop to Israel’s antagonists in the UN.”
Meanwhile, at an off-the-record meeting with reporters in the White House yesterday, Carter reiterated his position that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal. According to the New York Times, “The President is convinced that the question of the 50 Israeli settlements on the West Bank must eventually be addressed and that it may well prove to be one of the most troublesome issues to resolve.”