Menu JTA Search

Democrats Appear to Support Israeli Position on Lebanon

The Democratic Party urged the United States to “exert every effort to reinstate Lebanese sovereignty and Israeli security” in its approach to the present war in Lebanon. That position was contained in the lengthy policy statement on economic, military, civil rights and other issues adopted by the Democrats at their three-day national conference which closed in Philadelphia yesterday.

The reference to the conflict in Lebanon, though brief and more general than specific in its recommendations, indicated that the Democrats’ view paralleled that of Israel. This was apparent in the assertion that “The Democratic Party believes that the current situation in Lebanon presents an opportunity for the reunification and restoration of Lebanese sovereignty and independence, free from any form of foreign occupation, potentially breaking the vicious cycle of violence which has inflicted such tragic suffering on the people of Lebanon for the last decade.”

The statement asserted that “International terrorism has been dealt a severe blow and Soviet influence has been reduced,” a claim stressed repeatedly by Premier Menachem Begin during his visit to the U.S. last week.

LOSS OF LIFE REGRETTED

The statement went on to say that “The Democratic Party states its deep regret as to all loss of life on both sides. The Party believes that the United States should exert every effort to reinstate Lebanese sovereignty and Israeli security. We support as well immediate humanitarian relief efforts by the United States to provide medicine, food and other badly needed aid to the civilian population of Lebanon. With strong and decisive leadership by the United States, a new opportunity exists to build a lasting peace for the people of Lebanon and greater security for Israel. We urge such leadership.”

The statement on Lebanon reportedly was drafted by Mark Siegel, a Washington consultant who served for a time as President Carter’s liaison to the American Jewish community. He left the Administration in 1979 after refusing to defend the sale of F-16 jet fighters to Saudi Arabia.

OPPOSITION TO STATEMENT

The statement was adopted by the Democratic Party national conference against the opposition of some delegates who complained that it omitted reference to the heavy civilian casualties caused by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. But it had strong support from Reps. Toby Moffett of Connecticut and Michael Barnes of Maryland.

Moffet, who is of Lebanese descent, concurred with the view that the Israeli invasion had contributed toward “the reunification and restoration of Lebanese sovereignty and independence.” He said it dealt “a severe blow” to “international terrorism” by the Palestine Liberation Organization and reduced “Soviet influence” in the Middle East. Moffett is running for the Senate against Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker, a longtime supporter of Israel.

Among the more than 800 delegates who attended the Democratic Party conference were two Americans from Israel representing Democrats Abroad (Israel), they are David Froehlich, chairman of Democrats Abroad (Israel) and Anna Gottlieb, who was one of three alternates in the delegation from Democrats Abroad.

NEXT STORY