Palestinian Problem Must Be Solved by Arabs, Cuomo Tells Jewish Leaders
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Palestinian Problem Must Be Solved by Arabs, Cuomo Tells Jewish Leaders

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The United States should not try to “dictate terms to Israel’s people or to her Knesset,” nor “demand that Israel become a co-conspirator in her own suicide,” New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said Tuesday afternoon in a major speech on the occasion of Israel’s 40th anniversary.

Cuomo did not specifically refer to the Reagan administration in his address to 300 of New York’s Jewish leaders, but offered veiled criticism of its Mideast peace initiative by declaring that “Israel must never be forced onto the Scylla of nervous allies or the Charybdis of political expediency.”

Cuomo spoke in Manhattan at the invitation of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.

Although he has announced that he will not accept a move to draft him as the Democratic candidate for president, Cuomo seemed to be outlining his vision of the next administration’s foreign policy.

That course would be built on the unwavering support of a close relationship between the United States and Israel, a relationship he called a “moral and philosophic imperative for both nations.”


“Israel remains the only reliable friend and ally of the United States and the democratic nations of the West, in a region of vital, inescapable concern to us, a region where medieval monarchies or religio-political dictatorships are the rule.”

Cuomo clearly placed the responsibility for resolving the Palestinian question with the Arab states, linking the current unrest to previous aggression on the part of the Arabs.

“What Israel’s enemies have never been able to accomplish directly, they hope now to achieve by indirection,” he said, “by convincing Israel’s friends and allies to accept, perhaps even seek to impose, a solution that would give Israel untenable, indefensible borders, and that would signal for her the beginning of the end.”

But while Cuomo indicated his distrust of an international peace conference or unilaterally applied pressure on Israel by the United States, he did not offer any solutions of his own for the region.

“There must be no rush to judgment or to action,” he said, adding that Israel’s fate is ultimately the decision of its own democratic government.

“It would be a desecration of our friendship and of our historical memories now to demand that Israel become a co-conspirator in her own suicide, that she acquiesce in the establishment of a state within the occupied territories under a leadership not only hostile to Israel but officially dedicated to her annihilation.”


The governor also addressed racial and ethnic tensions in New York City, recently inflamed during the Democratic primary election over the candidacy of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Cuomo urged Jews and blacks not to allow differences “to rob us of the memory of what we are at our best.”

Cuomo reminded the Jewish leaders that Jackson, despite his “limitations,” represents a “great cry of empowerment by a people fighting for the right to be judged on their merits.”

He also said he has been reminding black audiences about Jewish participation in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, and of the current activities of Jewish politicians on behalf of black constituents.

Cuomo said the Jewish community’s problems with Jackson were not based on race, but “differences in communication.”

“If Mario Cuomo had stood up and had been photographed embracing Arafat, the reaction would have been exactly the same,” he said.

Nevertheless, Cuomo said, the primary “did what campaigns are supposed to do: gave the voters in a democracy an opportunity to judge the merits of each candidate.” New Yorkers, he said, “acted with extraordinary evenhandedness in sending Mike Dukakis and Jesse Jackson out of New York on the high road.”

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