WASHINGTON (Oct. 10)
Gov. Michael Dukakis told a group of leading Jewish supporters last week that a lesson of the Holocaust is that anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry must be fought and Israel’s survival assured.
“That terrible event taught us that we must never consider human rights anywhere simply an ‘internal problem,’ that we must always speak and act forcefully against every form of bigotry, and that we must never take Israel’s survival for granted,” the Democratic presidential nominee said.
Dukakis made his comments Oct. 5, as he met in Boston with the newly formed National Jewish Leadership Council for Dukakis/Bentsen, which endorsed his candidacy because it believes he “will work for the strengthening of a pluralist America.”
The council, which has seven co-chairpersons and a 34-member executive committee, also stressed that Dukakis “has an unblemished record of support for Israel’s security and for ever-stronger cooperation between Israel and the United States.”
Dukakis said he believes that “Israel’s fate is our fate. That when Israel is threatened, all those who cherish freedom are threatened.”
He repeated his pledge “to work together with the leaders of Israel, and with Arab leaders who are willing to respect Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and reject terrorism, to protect democracy and further the cause of peace in the Middle East.”
MAY BECOME PERMANENT GROUP
The Democratic candidate also told the Jewish leaders he is committed to “the best America,” which “celebrates the importance of religious faith and respects the separation of church and state. The best America rejects racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism.”
During the hour-long meeting, Dukakis was asked about the potential influence of the Rev. Jesse Jackson on his administration if he is elected. He assured the Jewish leaders that he had not made any deal with Jackson.
“I am my own man,” he said, emphasizing that his stated positions on the Middle East are what he believes.
Dukakis also noted that he had denounced anti-Semitism before general audiences in Chicago and Washington, and not just during his speech to B’nai B’rith International last month.
Hyman Bookbinder, a special adviser on Jewish affairs to Dukakis, said no decision will be made until after the elections whether to make the council a permanent institution, as is the National Jewish Coalition in the Republican Party.
The council’s executive committee includes three Jewish members of the Carter administration: Philip Klutznik, who was secretary of commerce; Stuart Eizenstat, who was an assistant to the president for economic affairs; and Alfred Moses, counsel to the president.
It includes many former leaders of Jewish organizations, among whom are: Herschel Blumberg of Hyattsville, Md.; Esther Landa, Salt Lake City; Jacqueline Levine, West Orange, N.J.; Robert Loup, Denver; Richard Maass, White Plains, N.Y.; Theodore Mann, Philadelphia; Maynard Wishner, Chicago; and Harriet Zimmerman, Atlanta.