Candidates All Support Israel, but Differ on Church-state Issues
Menu JTA Search

Candidates All Support Israel, but Differ on Church-state Issues

Download PDF for this date

Presidential candidates from both major parties all support a continued strong U.S.-Israel alliance, but differ on how to advance the Arab-Israel peace process as well as on church-state issues, according to their responses to a questionnaire distributed by the American Jewish Committee.

Their short essay answers to 14 questions on their positions on the Middle East, U.S.-Soviet relations and domestic issues traditionally considered important to the Jewish community are compiled in the booklet “Presidential Elections ’88: The Candidates on the Issues,” which was released at a news conference here Wednesday.

The questionnaire was sent in September to all announced candidates for the presidential nominations of Democratic and Republican parties, and was answered by all of them:

Vice President George Bush, Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, former Gov. Pierre du Pont of Delaware, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Rep. Jack Kemp of New York and former evangelist Pat Robertson, all Republicans; and former Gov. Bruce Babbitt of Arizona, Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. Albert Gore of Tennessee, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois.

Former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) was not then a candidate. But his subsequent response to the questionnaire will be included in an addendum to the publication.

Two broad trends emerged from the candidates’ responses:

In addition to their agreement on the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel, candidates are most in accord when supporting the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate. They differ, however, on the extent to which arms pacts and economic agreements between the United States and Soviet Union should be linked to Soviet human rights policies.

Opinion divides essentially along party lines on church-state, civil rights and economic issues.

Democrats support enactment of the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which would prohibit discrimination in federally funded programs, and the Equal Rights Amendment for women.

The Democrats also oppose constitutional amendments that would allow prayer in public schools, and call for increased economic and political pressure to be brought against South Africa to end apartheid.


Republicans, on the other hand, either support voluntary prayer in public schools or a moment of silence and oppose further economic sanctions against South Africa. They also support changing tax laws to stimulate energy exploration.

Dole is alone among Republicans in supporting the Civil Rights Restoration Act, the ERA, strengthened federal fair housing legislation and an oil import fee.

All of the candidates agree that supporting the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel is in the best interest of both countries, although Jackson notes that “the events of the past seven years have put unnecessary strains on the relationship, endangering our mutual goals of peace and security.”

Babbitt, du Pont and Gore call for expanded trade between the United States and Israel. Du Pont, Gephardt and Kemp support increased military cooperation, and du Pont advocates allowing the U.S. military to buy Israeli-produced weapons. Kemp repeats his call for a bilateral defense treaty.

In supporting an international peace conference, Jackson says he agrees with the initiative outlined by Shimon Peres, Israel’s foreign minister. Kemp, however, says a peace conference is not the answer.

Babbitt, Bush, Gephardt, Kemp and Simon all support an expanded Camp David peace process, and Babbitt, Bush, Gephardt and Robertson say the United States should act as an “honest broker” in the region.

Bush, du Pont and Gephardt say they would not recognize or negotiate with any group that refuses to accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, recognizing Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. Dole and Dukakis say that arms sales in the Middle East should not compromise Israel’s security.


All of the candidates offer support for the free emigration of Soviet Jewry, although only Babbitt, Dole, Dukakis, du Pont and Haig say specifically that they would link arms negotiations with Soviet human rights progress.

Kemp says he would support legislation to link trade and economic cooperation to advances in human rights. Dole, Dukakis, Gephardt, Gore and Simon say the United States should “pressure,” “stress” or “emphasize” human rights concerns when negotiating with the Soviet Union.

None of the Democratic candidates express support either for prayer in public schools or for tuition tax credits to families with children enrolled in parochial schools.

On the Republican side, Bush, Dole and Robertson speak up for voluntary prayer, while Kemp and Haig support a moment of silence. Only Haig said that he supports tuition tax credits.

Robertson says that while he strongly defends the rights of those who would choose not to participate in voluntary prayer, he does not “favor dismantling our entire tradition of public affirmation in God held by the majority in order to accommodate the views of the minority, who remain free to disagree.”

All of the Republicans except Haig, and only Gore among the Democrats support a proposed constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.


Babbitt, Dukakis, Gephardt, Gore, Jackson and Simon all oppose a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Bush, Dole and Kemp support such an amendment.

Du Pont says he would rather turn the issue back to the state legislatures, “where it belongs.” Haig says he opposes abortion and federal funding of abortion except when the mother’s life is endangered, but that he opposes attempts to “legislate morality.”

According to Marlene Provizer, deputy director of national affairs and supervisor of AJCommittee’s election programming, “Presidential Election ’88” will be widely distributed to the press, the Jewish community and individuals and organizations.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund