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Rabbi Says Reagan’s Policies Violate Jewish Values

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The Reagan Administration’s domestic and foreign policies are an attempt to “turn the clock back” to the days portrayed by the late John Wayne and his Western movies, but they are contrary to American and Jewish values of mutual aid and compassion, the American Jewish Congress was told.

Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld of Cleveland, a former president of AJCongress told more than 300 delegates to the organization’s national biennial convention here that current White House policies were characterized by “rugged selfishness” and “meanness.” He called the approach “antithetical to our founding vision and our basic Jewish values.”

In a sweeping criticism of the Administration, Lelyveld charged in a convention keynote address that the President’s program sought to “gut” the civil rights program, “pillage” natural resources and “subvert” existing environmental agencies by staffing them with appointees whose goal has been to oppose the principles and purposes of the agencies they head.

SAYS FOREIGN POLICY IS AMORAL PROGMATISM

He also said the Administration was “chipping away” at the wall of separation between church and state through such proposals as the tuition tax credit to benefit private and parochial schools. Lelyveld continued:

“America is bold too in the amoral pragmatism of its foreign policy. Designed to protect the interests of great corporations, it is a policy that offers assistance to nations blatantly violating the human rights we pretend to cherish….

“How else explain our confused and ineffective role in El Salvador? What are the motivations for ignoring Argentina’s torture, repression and innumerable ‘disappearances’ as we prepared to certify Argentina’s eligibility on human rights grounds to receive United States arms sales — a policy that has borne bitter fruit in the current crisis over the Falkland Islands?”

The theme of this year’s AJCongress convention is, “What Kind of America Do We Want?” In his address, Lelyveld called on the organization to continue to fight for policies under which “human life will be a supreme value, in which respect for the individual will not be smothered in unfeeling bureaucratic structure, but in which the beckoning openness of an upward-moving society will be preserved and the enriching distinctiveness of diversity will be encouraged.”

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