NEW YORK (Apr. 24)
The coordinator of a coalition formed in Berkeley, California, to defeat an initiative for the June 5 California Presidential primary, which calls for cuts in United States aid to Israel equal to Israeli expenditures for West Bank settlements, said today the coalition would wage on all-out fight to gamer enough votes to defeat the measure.
John Kaufman, coordinator of the Coalition for Middle East Peace and Justice, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in a telephone interview, of the plans of the coalition to gain a majority on June 5 against the initiative, called Proposition E, which is on the local ballot. The proposition includes a proposal for a nuclear freeze.
Signatures necessary to put Proposition E on the ballot to be given to voters in the Presidential primary were collected by an agency called “Taxpayers for the Middle East” (TAPME), which was created by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
The JTA was told yesterday by Erika Boyd, a volunteer member of the coalition, that TAPME collected 7,000 signatures, though only 5,000 were needed to place an issue on the ballot.
Proposition E declared that “the people of the City of Berkeley call on the United States government to reduce its yearly aid to Israel by an amount equal to what it determines to be the most accurate approximation of what Israel spends annually on its settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.”
STEPS TO DEFEAT PROPOSITION E
Kaufman outlined the steps the coalition is developing in its plans to get enough votes to defeat the measure on June 5. He said a direct mail program is awaiting collection of enough funds to finance it.
Next Sunday, he said, volunteers will begin a door-to-door effort to talk against Proposition E to potential voters. He said he hoped at least 50 volunteers would be available for that phase of the campaign. He said the coalition goal had been endorsed by leading local political personalities.
Kaufman said he doubted that supporters of Proposition E believed that it would affect United States policy in the Middle East. He said he felt such supporters were acting from two motives. First, he said, they sincerely believed approval would be a step toward peace and, second, many were planning to vote for Proposition E as a protest against Israel’s settlement policy.
Kaufman, asked how many members the coalition had, said it was hard to fix a total because it was a volunteer assemblage. But, he said, the coalition has a steering committee of 50. He described the coalition as nonpartisan and nonpolitical, declaring that its members include Christians and Jews, whites and Blacks.