WASHINGTON (Aug. 10)
The Republican National Convention, which opens in New Orleans Monday, is expected to adopt a platform that contains what one Jewish source described as the strongest statement in support of Israel ever adopted by a national party.
“American Jewry will be buoyed by the strong language of the Republican Party’s platform on the Middle East and the U.N. anti-Zionism resolution,” Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, a member of the Platform Committee, told Jewish representatives who testified before the committee in New Orleans this week.
The committee began working on the final campaign document Wednesday, in preparation for its adoption by the convention on Tuesday.
But a subcommittee on foreign affairs already has presented the full committee with a working paper that stresses the “moral and strategic relationship with Israel.”
“There is no question about our concern about Israel and our friendship with our ally,” said Rep. Bill McCollum of Florida, the subcommittee’s chairman.
While a copy of the working paper on the Middle East was not available Wednesday, it was learned that it included support for maintaining Israel’s “qualitative edge” in military weapons over its Arab enemies.
The Republicans also reaffirmed support for the Arrow, the missile Israel is developing to shoot down ballistic missiles. The United States is paying about 80 percent of the research cost of the missile under the Strategic Development Initiative.
PLEDGE ON U.N. RESOLUTION
The GOP platform also is expected to reaffirm the Reagan administration’s position that the United States will leave the United Nations if Israel is expelled.
It pledges to continue to work for the repeal of the 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.
The platform also will urge the Democratic Party to remove any aspects of anti-Semitism within its ranks.
The GOP platform is lengthy and full of details, in sharp contrast to the campaign document adopted by the Democrats in Atlanta last month, which was short and stressed themes rather than specific programs.
The Democratic platform has one paragraph on Israel, which stresses the need for “maintaining the special relationship with Israel” and blames the Reagan administration for having “abandoned the peace process in the Middle East.”
Vice President George Bush, who is to be nominated the Republican candidate for president at the convention, appeared before the Platform Committee this week to stress the need for a document that provides specific details of the Republican program.
Among those testifying before the Platform Committee were representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
Thomas Dine, AIPAC’s executive director, told the committee that “the Reagan administration brought the U.S.-Israel relationship to new heights in the strategic, economic, political and diplomatic spheres, and has done more than any other administration to institutionalize the partnership.”
He said the Republicans should focus “on how to raise the level of that baseline” set by Reagan.
NAZI PROSECUTIONS, SOVIET JEWRY
As ways of doing this, Dine urged a commitment in the platform to maintain U.S. economic and military aid at the current $3 billion figure and support for institutionalizing the U.S. strategic relationship with Israel.
“Indeed, a formal defense treaty might be a wise avenue to pursue,” Dine said.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, urged the platform to include a pledge that the United States “shall use its prestige and influence to rescind the infamous ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution adopted by the United Nations on Nov. 10, 1975, which has legitimized and encouraged worldwide anti-Semitism.”
Hier also urged continued bipartisan support for the efforts of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations to prosecute and deport former Nazi war criminals living in the United States.
He spoke after representatives of several East European emigre groups urged that the Republican Party pledge that the OSI no longer “engage in punitive deportation of any criminals to the Soviet Union.”
Rabbi David Goldstein of New Orleans, an NCSJ board member, urged that support for Soviet Jewry and the Jackson-Vanik Amendment remain part of the permanent Republican agenda. The amendment links trade benefits to increased Soviet emigration.
The AJCommittee was represented by Ann Kaufman, a board member from Houston.