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At the Republican Party Convention: Support for Israel is Not a Central Theme in the Speeches

Support for Israel has not been a central theme in the speeches to the Republican National Convention, although the platform adopted yesterday carries a strong statement that the U.S. and Israel are strategic allies in the Middle East. The same was true at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco last month. Both parties do not expect the Mideast to be a major issue in the fall campaign.

This is a good thing, according to an Israeli who is attending the GOP convention here and was in San Francisco for the Democratic affair. He said that it is a sign that United States support for Israel is accepted throughout the country and has become as much a part of the American scene as "mom and apple pie."

The Israeli marveled that in a period of austerity, no one has challenged the large amount of aid going to Israel. In fact, it is the support for aid to Israel that has been used by the Reagan Administration as well as its predecessors, to get through Congress aid to other foreign countries.

At a reception given by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last night, one conservative Republican Congressman was overheard saying that at least Israel is one country that is willing to spend for its military defense.

U.S. STAND ON ISRAEL, SOVIET JEWRY CITED

Israel was of course mentioned in speeches during the first two days of the convention. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, in a speech Monday night, stressed that U.S. strength is "essential to the independence and freedom of our allies and of our friends." She listed several examples, including, "what would become of Israel, if surrounded by Soviet client states?"

Kirkpatrick also noted that "the Reagan Administration has prevented the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations." She said the deterioration in U.S.-Soviet relations was the fault of the Kremlin and not of President Reagan, and stressed that the American people know that Reagan and the U.S. are not the cause of "the denial of Jewish emigration, or the brutal imprisonment of Anatoly Shcharansky and Ida Nudel or the obscene treatment of Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner, or the re-Stalinzation of the Soviet Union," among other offenses of the USSR.

Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, who headed the foreign policy subcommittee of the Platform Committee, stressed last night, "we will strengthen our strategic alliance with our sister democracy, Israel."

He also noted that "whether we’re upholding the human rights of the steel worker in Poland, the South African Black or the Soviet Jew, the voice of America must be heard throughout the world."

There was a huge demonstration on the floor for Kemp by delegates promoting him as the Republican Presidential candidate for 1988. Kemp is a favorite among many Jews here, for his strong support of Israel and Soviet Jewry, and some were talking about a 1988 ticket of Kemp and Kirkpatrick.

REAGAN’S PEACE INITIATIVE STILL VALID

Vice President George Bush, in a press conference devoted to foreign policy yesterday, stressed that Reagan’s September 1, 1982 peace initiative remains the "under-pinning of our Mideast policy."

"We’ve made clear that the regional people, the countries, must want peace, truly want it in order to achieve it," Bush said. "We and our allies will try to help."

Asked whether it was not a "shame" that so many Americans lost their lives as part of the multinational force in Lebanon, Bush replied it was not a "shame" but a "tragedy" that "Palestinian terrorists resorted to that kind of cowardness to kill young Americans." Bush was referring to the bombing last year of the American marine headquarters in Beirut.

Bush said the U.S. went into Lebanon along with the British, French, and Italian forces in an effort to bring democracy to that country." There are 10,000 fewer leftwing Palestinian guerrillas, the really extremes, moving around Beirut as a result of that force," Bush said.

BIGOTRY, ANTI-SEMITISM CONDEMNED

In other issues, Sen. Paula Hawkins of Florida, co-chairperson of the Platform Committee, noted last night that "whatever others may do, the Republican Party condemns racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism." She was referring to the failure by the Democrats to introduce a similar statement in their platform.

Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of Kew Gardens Hills, in Queens, New York, also spoke of this in his invocation Monday night. "We pray that the evils of bigotry, prejudice, racial hatred and anti-Semitism so strongly condemned by this convention will be eradicated from the hearts and minds of all mankind." Rabbi Saul Besser of Temple Shalom in Dallas gave the benediction.

Meanwhile, while Israeli officials are studiously trying not to inject themselves into the election — after all they are having enough election problems of their own — the Republicans are bringing them into the campaign.

Bush, speaking to the National Jewish Coalition on Monday, blasted the Democrats for charging that the Administration does not have good relations with Israel. He quoted Premier Yitzhak Shamir as saying that relations were never better.

A pamphlet issued at the Dallas Convention Center on the Administration’s foreign and defense policy quotes Defense Minister Moshe Arens as saying in Washington last May that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is "probably better than it has ever been before."

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