Candidates for Public Office Are Told That Jewish Voters Are Not a Single-issue Constituency
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Candidates for Public Office Are Told That Jewish Voters Are Not a Single-issue Constituency

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Candidates for political office were urged here to understand that the profound concern of Jewish voters with the security of Israel did not mean they were not involved with a wide range of domestic and other foreign is sues.

The appeal, evoked by the highly-publicized focus by Democratic Presidential candidates on proposals to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was made by American Jewish Committee officials at a news conference here last Thursday.

Howard Friedman, Committee president, said “Analyses of recent election figures should convince all those involved in the political process that Jewish voters do not make up a single-issue bloc and that they resent candidates who appeal to them solely on the matter of Israel and the United States-Israel relationship.”

Friedman cited data prepared for the news conference in a memorandum titled “The Jewish Vote — What It Is and What It Is Not” by Milton Himmelfarb, the AJ Committee’s director of information and research services.


Friedman said that there was “an increasing perception” in the current nomination campaign that Jews are concerned only about one issue “and that is the location of the American Embassy in Israel.” He called this “a caricature presentation rather than one rooted in an entire range of their traditional concerns.”

He pointed out that Jewish voters over the years had voted for candidates for public office — for President and Congress — who appeared to them to make the most effective public officials in responding to national and international issues.

Theodore Ellenoff, chairman of the AJCommittee’s Board of Governors, who has been directing a campaign to curb intergroup tensions during the 1984 election campaign, listed a number of issues which concern Jewish voters.


These include an economically sound and militarily secure nation; a country whose international stance inspires respect and confidence among freedom-loving nations; an America dedicated to realistic economic policies and the care of those unable to care for themselves; an ongoing concern for human rights in the United States and around the world; and a continued commitment to American pluralism, with minorities and women sharing the gains and freedoms of all other Americans.

Ellenoff said, “Clearly there are many other concerns that help American Jews make up their mind when they enter the election booths. The candidate who seems insensitive to Israel’s right to exist will rightfully warrant rejection by Jewish voters. But candidates should never act as if that were the entire story.”


Hyman Bookbinder, the Committee’s Washington representative, said his office translated the many concerns of American Jewish voters into its day-to-day agenda. He joined Himmelfarb in detailing recent voting history of American Jews.

He said Jews do not vote for a candidate because he is Jewish, noting that in the 1982 New York gubernatorial election, Jews gave two-thirds of their votes to Mario Cuomo, an Italian-American liberal Democrat, and one-third to Lewis Lehrman, a Jewish conservative Republican.

Bookbinder reported that seven of every 10 Jewish voters in the March, 1984 primaries in lllinois said their main reason for prefering candidates had to do with domestic issues. AJCommittee surveys of Jewish opinion, however, indicate that 75 percent of American Jews would not vote for candidates unfiendly to Israel.

Bookbinder said that Jewish reservations about the Rev. Jesse Jackson do not mean that Jewish voters are anti-Black. In the most recent gubernatorial elec ocrat, a bigger majority than any other group gave him except Blacks, and more Jews than other whites voted for Black Democrats in the recent mayoralty elections in Chicago and Philadelphia.

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