WASHINGTON (Aug. 26)
Responding to invitations from President Carter, 20 Jewish citizens met with him and Vice President Walter Mondale at the White House for almost an hour today and later several told reporters they were endorsing the President for re-election.
The gathering reportedly is one of several being arranged by the White House to bolster support within the Jewish community for the Carter-Mondale ticket. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday with a group from New York.
Among those who spoke with reporters were Howard Gittis and William Batoff, both of Philadelphia; Sigmund Strochlitz, of New London, Conn, and David Chase of West Hartford, Conn. Others in the group were from Detroit, Cleveland and Boston.
Batoff said he has “no idea” why he was invited. But he denied that the White House intention was to circumvent the leadership of the organized Jewish community. “I believe they invited people who are strong in their communities and interested in the Jewish relationship with the President and we would like it to continue,” he said.
Asked if the “traditional Jewish leaders” would back the President, Batoff replied, “Oh, yes, quite a few will be coming out very shortly in support of President Carter.”
CITES NATURE OF THE MEETING
Gittis said the purpose of the meeting was to be “filled in by the President, Vice President and other officials of the Administration on their positions which would be of interest to the Jewish community, which they did very effectively, very intelligently in a manner which would lead to complete dedicated support of the Jewish community for this Administration.”
Gittis said he was not affiliated with an organization and was not a spokesman but came as an individual. Asked if he endorsed the President, he replied, “most of us here endorsed the President before this “and are “actively working for his reelection which is important to the American Jewish community.
Strochlitz said that “we were very upset” about the United States abstention on the United Nations Security Council resolution last Wednesday against Israel’s Jerusalem law. “The United States should not have abstained, but vetoed it, he said. “This is the first time the United States accepted some kind of punishment for Israel. President Carter explained it. I am not at liberty to explain how he explained it.”
SATISFIED WITH CARTER’S EXPLANATION
Batoff then said Carter’s explanation for the abstention was then “an undivided Jerusalem was exactly what the Camp David accords had suggested and the President felt he was in keeping with that accord.” He said he was “absolutely, totally satisfied” with the President’s explanation.
When a reporter asked “why are the Jewish people supporting President Carter when the government of Israel makes clear this Administration is not a friend of Israel, “Batoff noted that Israeli Premier Menachem Begin had “alluded” to the abstention but “it was not a statement. He expected a veto and instead he got an abstention.”
Chase said “20 doubtful people with reservations come to see the President this morning and we are leaving 20 very satisfied and happy people. This Administration is doing a great job for me as an American and for me of religious belief, being Jewish. “He said “many Jewish people do not understand the true policy of this Administration and the dedication of this Administration to Jews and Israel.”