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Behind the Headlines Waiting for a Reply from the White House

A New York delegate to the recent Democratic National Convention said today he is waiting for a response from the White House on a petition signed by 250 delegates demanding President Carter to adhere to the Democratic Party’s platform on Jerusalem.

Sam Zalman Gdanski, a Spring Volley, N.Y. lawyer and Rockland County legislator who was a delegate pledged to Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the answer he receives will decide whether he supports Carter in the November election. “I was a Kennedy delegate partly because of dissatisfaction with President Carter over Israel,” he said.

Gdanski said that on the second day of the convention, Aug. 12, he was concerned by reports that Carter “would modify or renounce the party platform position concerning unification of Jerusalem.”

He noted that Carter failed to adhere to the 1976 platform which was repeated again this year. It stated that the Democratic Party supports “the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

FORM AD HOC COMMITTEE

Gdanski said an Ad Hoc Committee of Delegates Concerned with Israel was formed and he and Bruce Levine, a low student from Spring Valley and a Kennedy alternate delegate, began circulating the petition. He said in two days they gathered 250 signatures not only from New York, New Jersey and Maryland but also from such states as Texas and Utah. “Had we further time, certainly we would have received much more since we were the only two delegates circulating a petition on the floor of the convention” in Madison Square Garden, Gdanski said.

But Gdanski said he was then “disappointed” when Carter, in a written statement to the delegates on the party platform Aug. 13, gave what the Rockland County official called an “ambiguous statement on Jerusalem” that “at best clouded what was a clear unequivocal statement in the platform.”

Carter’s statement, which ignored any mention of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, said: “It has been our policy that Jerusalem should remain forever undivided with free access to the holy places for people of all faiths. It has been and it must remain our policy that the ultimate status of Jerusalem should be a matter of negotiation between the parties.”

Gdanski noted that the Carter statement “seemed to leave the status of Jerusalem as something to be negotiated and therefore (was) a renunciation by President Carter of the specific platform adopted by the convention itself.”

DELIVERED THE PETITION TO POWELL

Because of this, Gdanski and Levine delivered the petition on Aug. 14 to the office of White House Press Secretary. Jody Powell of the Carter-Mondale headquarters at the Sheraton Centre here. But now, 11 days later, Gdanski still has not received a reply, he said. Gdanski said he wants to continue the ad hoc committee on an ongoing basis since the Democratic Party has platform conventions every two years. He said that when the petition was being circulated many of those who signed asked him and Levine “why a caucus had not been established along the lines of the Block political caucus (at the convention) which would have concerned itself with issues affecting the Jewish community.” Many of those who signed the petition were not Jewish, although Gdanski said he had no breakdown of the percentage of Jewish and non- Jewish signers.

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