Bush Pledces a Strong Israel at Wiesenthal Center Appearance

Vice President George Bush pledged his full support Thursday for a secure and economically strong Israel, freedom for Soviet refuseniks and relentless opposition to racial and religious bigotry.

Speaking to 400 people crammed into the outdoor memorial plaza of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Republican candidate used the waning days of his presidential campaign to attract the votes of traditionally Democratic Jews in the key state of California.

“I make the solemn pledge that Israel will continue to survive, strong and secure,” Bush assured his audience. “The United States will stand by Israel without wavering. Our economic partnership will be extended. Nothing will come between us.”

He was equally emphatic in stating that “my party has shown on the record that it will condemn and oppose anti-Semitism in every manifestation, here and around the globe.”

Preceding the talk, Bush received the customary tour of the Wiesenthal Center’s Holocaust exhibit, guided by Rabbi Marvin Hier.

The vice president, holding his wife’s hand, looked grave as he inspected prison uniforms and gas canisters used at Auschwitz, a memorial book with the names of murdered Hungarian Jews and an order signed by Josef Mengele authorizing atrocities against children.

DUKAKIS VISIT ‘FELL THROUGH’

He was also shown a display of current anti-Semitic books from Japan and a model of the center’s planned Museum of Tolerance.

Television crews and still photographers jostled and pushed each other, a scene described by one reporter as “covering the Holocaust as a photo opportunity.”

The well-managed, one-hour event was frequently interrupted by a vociferous group of Dukakis supporters outside the walled memorial plaza.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center, was asked about the propriety of inviting only one of the contending presidential candidates less than two weeks before the election.

Cooper said both Dukakis and Bush had been invited as far back as last May, but that after months of negotiations a hoped-for Dukakis visit fell through.

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