WASHINGTON (Oct. 28)
Vice President George Bush backed away yesterday from his earlier statement that the “Palestine question” was the cause of most international terrorism.
“Terrorism is not only or even predominantly a Palestinian phenomenon,” Bush said in a speech to the 84th national convention of the Zionist Organization of America at the Mayflower Hotel. “It is truly international. Many local groups have broad and, often, common international connections and couldn’t operate as they do without those connections,” Bush declared.
Bush did not refer to his remarks during his nationally televised debate with his Democratic opponent, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, in which he said the “answer” to terrorism “really lies in the Middle East” and “is a solution to the Palestine question.”
‘AMERICA HAS NO ROOM FOR ANTI-SEMITISM’
Most of Bush’s speech yesterday centered around an assertion that the Reagan Administration has fought against anti-Semitism both in the United States and abroad in contrast to what he said was the failure to do so of the Democratic Presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, and the Carter Administration.
Bush said the Administration believed in the “dream” of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said he wanted an America in which people will be judged “not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.” This is “why we have taken a strong stand against quotas,” he said.
“Fighting against anti-Semitism is part of fighting for that American dream,” Bush stressed. “America has no room for anti-Semitism or for bigotry of any kind.”
Bush charged that “under the leadership of Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party at its convention in San Francisco was unable and unwilling to ratify what the overwhelming majority of the American people stand for — a simple resolution, condemning anti-Semitism and dissociating the Democratic Party from bigotry in all forms. We adopted such a plank condemning anti-Semitism at our convention last August in Dallas.”
The Vice President’s remarks came a day after Reagan, in a speech at a Long Island, New York synagogue, also charged the Democrats with not having the “moral courage or leadership to pass” the resolution. (See separate story).
Bush also stressed the need to support the separation of church and state. “It also means defending the rights of others to practice their faiths or refrain from practicing any faith as they see fit,” he added. “That is why for example, when the Connecticut courts struck down a statute protecting the employees who observe the sabbath, our Administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision.”
THE OLD DAYS ARE GONE
On international matters, Bush stressed that “gone are the days when our delegation to the United Nations didn’t know whether it should vote for or against resolutions condemning Israel.”
He noted that “under this Administration, the United States will not let go unchallenged attempts to equate Zionism with racism. We know those charges for what they are — just another mask for vicious anti-Semitism.” Bush reaffirmed Reagan’s pledge that the U.S. will leave the UN if Israel is ever expelled.
Bush stressed to the standing-room audience of several hundred people the statement made by Israeli Premier Shimon Peres after he met with Reagan in which Peres said that he “found in the White House a true friend of Israel.” He also noted Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s statement to Time magazine when he was Premier that “relations with the U.S. are better than ever before.”
But in a speech to the opening session of the ZOA convention Thursday night, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D. HI.), accused the Administration of destabilizing the Middle East by pursuing “ambiguous and uncertain policies” there. Inouye strongly criticized the Administration for the sale of AWACS and Sidewinder missiles to Saudi Arabia which he said gives the Saudis offensive strike capabilities against Israel. “Reagan said this was necessary for even-handedness,” he said. “In my book, even-handedness means anti-Israel.”
ZOA president Alleck Resnick stressed that the ZOA does not endorse any political candidate or party. “As concerned American citizens, we must be concerned especially that the convention pledges become post-election realities.” he said.
ZOA SEEKS TO EXPAND ITS MEMBERSHIP
The focus at the five-day convention which ends tonight was on expanding the 120,000 member organization and particularly attracting more young people to the ZOA. Resnick said Masada, ZOA’s Israel summer program, last summer brought the second largest group of American Jewish youths of any American Jewish organization.
ZOA executive vice president Paul Flacks emphasized the importance of youth to the survival of Zionism in the U.S. “If we are Zionists who care about the future, we must care about our youth,” he said.
Isaac Oberman, national membership chairman, said that youth includes not only teenagers but young adults. “Fortunately for us and for Israel, and for future generations, we are young and strong,” he said.