Jews Endorse Bush, Dukakis As Election Day Approaches

Two groups of prominent American Jews have weighed in with separate endorsements of George Bush and Michael Dukakis for president.

The two endorsements distill months of debate within the Jewish community over which candidate, the Republican vice president or the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, will be better able to serve the interests of American Jews and Israel.

The pro-Bush endorsement, released in a statement late last week, was signed by 20 prominent Jewish leaders, including former U.S. Sen. Richard Stone (D-Fla.) and five former chairmen of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The group claims Bush will continue the Reagan administration’s “proven policies” toward Israel on security, peace and economic matters.

The leaders, several of them Democrats, said they were “pained” by events at the Democratic National Convention and by aspects of the “new agenda” of the Democratic Party. The statement is code for concerns over the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s influence in the party, which Jewish Republicans say is pervasive, pro-Arab and possibly anti-Semitic.

Signers of the pro-Bush statement include Julius Berman, Kenneth Bialkin and Jack Stein, all former chairmen of the Conference of Presidents; Brown University Professor Jacob Neusner; and neo-conservative writer Midge Decter.

DOESN’T HAVE ‘SAME GUT FEELINGS’

The endorsement of Dukakis by a new group called the National Jewish Leadership Council appeared as a full-page newspaper advertisement in The New York Times on Oct. 31.

The ad attacks Bush’s record on Israel, saying he has supported every major American arms deal to Arab countries. It quotes a Bush adviser who said the vice president “does not have the same gut feelings toward Israel” as President Reagan.

Defending Dukakis’ record, the ad cites his pledge to “never let Israel down.” In addition, the endorsement compares Dukakis’ record on church-state separation issues and opposition to anti-Semitism with claims that Bush supports evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, as well as other members of the “Radical Right.”

Among the 42 signers of the ad are another two former chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Howard Squadron and Theodore Mann; and Philip Klutznik, former international president of B’nai B’rith and secretary of commerce under President Jimmy Carter.

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