NEW YORK (Aug. 28)
Rep. Jack Kemp (R. NY) declared last night that Republican Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s “stubbornness” on Taiwan demonstrates he would never abandon Israel. It shows that a Reagan Administration “will not betray our allies nor our commitments, ” he said.
Kemp offered this explanation of Reagan’s controversial statement that he would restore official relations with Taiwan to nearly 100 Jews, a majority of them rabbis, who crowded into the backyard garden at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Diamond on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The gathering, hosted by Diamond and Rabbi Seymour Siegel, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a member of the advisory committee of the Reagan-Bush campaign, heard answers to questions on Reagan’s Middle East policy from leading Jewish members of the Reagan campaign.
But Rita Houser, a New York lawyer and foreign policy advisor to Reagan, said the GOP standard bearer would give his “definitive” views on the Middle East when he addresses the B’nai B’rith International Convention in Washington Sept. 3.
ATTITUDE OF GOP ADMINISTRATIONS CITED
Max Fisher, a Detroit industrialist and co-chairman of the National Coalition for Reagan, said that Reagan supports Israel as an ally and as the only country in the Middle East that can be relied upon to prevent a Communist takeover of the region. “The people most favorable to Israel,” according to Fisher, were the members of the Republican Administrations of Presidents Nixon and Ford. He noted that Nixon came to Israel’s aid with military supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Fisher said that under the Nixon and Ford. Administrations, if there was some action to be taken against Israel by the U.S., Israel was consulted first and the situation was discussed. He charged that under the Carter Administration, the Administration has acted first without discussing it with Israel.
American Jewish leaders also had input under the former Republican Administrations, Fisher said. “We had access to the White House on these issues.” But he said that under Carter there was a “revolving door” process in which the President only shook hands with Jewish leaders but did not listen to them.
ADMINISTRATION ACCUSED OF FLIRTING WITH THE PLO
Jacob Stein, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that as soon as the U.S. abstained last week on the United Nations Security Council resolution calling on foreign embassies to be withdrawn from Jerusalem he called Fisher and Reagan immediately issued a statement denouncing the U.S. abstention, This shows “we can have input, we do have input.”
Houser accused the Carter Administration of having “flirted with the PLO.” She said that if it were not for the “stink” raised by American Jews, “Carter would have appeased the Arabs in every way he could.”
When asked about Reagan’s views on Jerusalem, George Klein, a New York businessman and leading Republican, said that Reagan has told Jewish leaders that he believes in an undivided Jerusalem “under the sovereignty of Israel. “But Klein said that Reagan felt that he should make no statement on moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since this is a “sensitive” issue.
He said Reagan recalled what happened to former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark who promised to move the embassy during his campaign and then had to retreat after he was elected. Klein said a situation of this kind is more harmful to Israel.
When asked about the support for Reagan by “religious fundamentalists” (evangelicals), Siegel replied that Jews should know better than anyone that all religious groups have a right to express their views politically. He also said that not all Jews accept the “liberal” viewpoint on school prayers, abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment.”
NO ROLE FOR CONNALLY
Fisher reassured the group that former Texas Gov. John Connally will not have a “major impact” in the Reagan campaign and is not being considered for Secretary of State or Defense. Connally came under attack in the Jewish community late last year for seeming to imply that U.S. oil requirements mode it necessary for Israel to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. Fisher said Connally is not “anti-Semitic” or anti-Israel.
Fisher also urged Jews not to be concerned by Reagan supporters who have had heavy business dealings with the Arab countries. He said that the U.S. is a large country of 220 million people and not all the people who support Reagan are pro-Israel.
When independent candidate John Anderson was suggested as an alternative choice, Hauser said that the campaign is only between Reagan and Carter. She said-while she understands that this may be a hard decision for many people, it would be a “fatuous act to throw away your vote on John Anderson.”
Hauser said she considered Anderson to be running a “cynical” campaign since he was “100 percent for Israel in front of Jewish groups” but his chief advisor on foreign affairs is former Undersecretary of State George Ball, considered by many to be anti-Israel. She said that when she questioned Anderson on this he said Ball would not deal with the Mideast. “The Mideast is all George has been interested in for the last five years, “Houser noted.