Focus on Issues Democratic and Republican Positions

The following is a comparison of the Democratic and Republican platforms adopted at their respective national conventions:

MIDDLE EAST

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Party believes that the security of Israel and the pursuit of peace in the Middle East are fundamental priorities for American foreign policy. Israel remains more than a trusted friend, a steady ally and a sister democracy. Israel is strategically important to the United States and we must enter into meaningful strategic cooperation.

The Democratic Party condemns this Administration’s failure to maintain a high-level special negotiator for the Middle East, and believes that the Camp David peace process must be taken up again with urgency …. Once again we applaud and support the example of both Israel and Egypt to take bold steps for peace. We believe that the United States should press for negotiations among Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

We re-emphasize the fundamental principle that the prerequisite for a lasting peace in the Middle East remains an Israel with secure and defensible borders, strong beyond a shadow of doubt; that the basis for peace is the unequivocal recognition of Israel’s right to exist by all other states; and that there should be a resolution of the Palestinian issue.

REPUBLICANS: With the Syrian leadership increasingly subject to Soviet influence, and the Palestine Liberation Organization and its homicidal subsidiaries taking up residence in Syria, U.S. policy toward the region must remain vigilant and strong ….

The bedrock of that protection remains as it has for over three decades, our moral and strategic relationship with Israel. We are allies in the defense of freedom. Israel’s strength, coupled with United States assistance, is the main obstacle to Soviet domination of the region. The sovereignty, security, and integrity of the State of Israel are moral imperatives. We pledge to help maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over its adversaries.

Today, relations between the the United States and Israel are closer than ever before. Under President Reagan, we have moved beyond mere words to extensive political, military, and diplomatic cooperation. U.S.-Israeli strategic planning groups are coordinating our joint defense efforts; and we are directly supporting projects to augment Israel’s defense industrial base. We support the legislation pending for an Israel-U.S. free trade area.

We recognize that attacks in the UN against Israel are but thinly disguised attacks against the United States, for it is our shared ideals and democratic way of life that are their true targets. Thus, when a UN agency denied Israel’s right to particpate, we withheld our financial support until that action was corrected. And we have worked behind the scenes and in public in other international organizations to defeat discriminatory attacks on our ally.

Our determination to participate actively in the peace process begun at Camp David has won us support over the past four years from moderate Arab states. Israel’s partner in the Camp David accords, Egypt, with American support, has been a constructive force for stability. We pledge continued support to Egypt and other moderate Arab regimes against Soviet and Libyan subversion, and we look to them to contribute to our efforts for a long-term settlement of the region’s destructive dispute.”

JERUSALEM

DEMOCRATS: Jerusalem should remain forever undivided with free access to the holy places for people of all faiths. As stated by the 1976 and 1980 platforms, the Democratic Party recognizes and supports the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

REPUBLICANS: We believe that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city with free and unimpeded access to all holy places by people of all faiths.

PLO

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Party opposes any consideration of negotiations with the PLO, unless the PLO abandons terrorism, recognizes the State of Israel and adheres to UN Resolutions 242 and 338.

REPUBLICANS: Republicans reaffirm that the United States should not recognize or negotiate with the PLO so long as that organization continues to promote terrorism, rejects Israel’s right to exist, and refuses to accept UN Resolutions 242 and 338.

ARMS FOR ARABS

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Party opposes this Administration’s sale of highly advanced weaponry to avowed enemies of Israel, such as AWACS aircraft and Stinger missiles to Soudi Arabia. While helping to meet the legitimate defensive needs of states aligned with our nation, we must ensure Israel’s military edge over any combination of Middle East confrontation states.

REPUBLICANS: (Not mentioned.)

SOVIET JEWRY

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Party condemns continued Soviet persecution of dissidents and refuseniks …. We will not be silent when Soviet actions, such as the imprisonment of Anatoly Shcharansky and Ida Nudel and thousands of others, demonstrate the fundamentally repressive and anti-Semitic nature of the Soviet regime.

A Democratic regime will give priority to securing the freedom to emigrate for these brave men and women of conscience including Jews and other minorities, and to assuring their fair treatment while waiting permission to leave.

These freedoms are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Helsinki Final Act which the Soviets have signed and with whose provisions they must be ready to comply. Jewish emigration, which reached the level of 50,000 during the last Democratic Administration and which has virtually ended under its Republican successor, must be renewed through firm, effective diplomacy.

We also recognize that Jewish emigration reached its height at the same time there was an American Administration dedicated to pursuing arms control, expanding mutually beneficial trade, and reducing tensions with the Soviet Union — fully consistent with the interests of the United States and its allies. It is no contradiction to say that while pursuing an end to the arms race and reducing East-West tensions, we can also advance the cause of Soviet Jewish emigration.

REPUBLICANS: We will press for Soviet compliance with all international agreements, including the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. We will continue to protest Soviet anti-Semitism and human rights violations. We admire the courage of such people as Andrei Sakharov, his wife Yelena Bonner, Anatoly Shcharansky, Ida Nudel and Josef Begun, whose defiance of Soviet repression stands as a testament to the greatness of the human spirit. We will press the Soviet Union to permit free emigration of Jews, Christians, and oppressed national minorities.

SEPARATION OF CHURCH-STATE

DEMOCRATS: The current Administration has consistently sought to reverse in the courts or over-rule by constitutional amendment a long line of Supreme Court decisions that preserve our historic commitment to religious tolerance and church-state separation. The Democratic Party affirms its support of the principles of religious liberty, religious tolerance and church/state separation and of the Supreme Court decisions forbidding violation of these principles. We pledge to resist all efforts to weaken those decisions.

REPUBLICANS: We have enacted legislation to guarantee equal access to school facilities by student religious groups. Mindful of our religious diversity, we reaffirm our commitment to the freedom of religion and speech guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and firmly support the right of students to openly practice the same, including the right to engage in voluntary prayer in schools.

QUOTAS

DEMOCRATS: (Opposition to quotas deleted in amendment on floor of convention.)

REPUBLICANS: We will resist efforts to replace equal rights with discriminatory quota systems and preferential treatment. Quotas are the most insidious form of discrimination: reverse discrimination against the innocent. We must always remember that, in a free society, different individual goals will yield different results.

BIGOTRY

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Party strongly condemns the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and other hate groups. We pledge vigorous federal prosecution of actions by the Klan and the American Nazi Party that violate federal law, including the enactment of such laws in the jurisdictions where they do not exist. We further condemn those acts, symbols and rituals, including cross-burnings, associated with anti-civil rights activities.

REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the pluralism and freedom that have been part and parcel of this great country. In so doing, repudiates and completely disassociates itself from people, organizations, publications and entities which promulgate the practice of any form of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism or religious intolerance.

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

DEMOCRATS: We oppose the artificial and rigid constitutional restraint of a balanced budget amendment. Further we oppose efforts to call a federal constitutional convention for this purpose.

REPUBLICANS: We will work for the constitional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget …. If Congress fails to act on this issue, a constitutional convention should be convened to address only this issue in order to bring deficit spending under control.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party commends President Reagan for accepting the honorary chairmanship of the campaign to erect a U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C. and supports the efforts of the U.S. Holocaust Council in erecting such a museum and educational center. The museum will bear witness to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

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