NEW YORK (Jun. 20)
Reaffirming the Democratic Party’s support for Israel and his own dedication to the black-Jewish alliance, Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown laid out his party’s plans Monday for wooing Jewish supporters.
The Democratic Party “takes no voter, no community for granted,” Brown said in a speech warmly received by members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
In last year’s presidential election, the Democratic nominee, Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, received close to 70 percent of the Jewish vote.
But partly because many Jews disapproved of another Democratic hopeful, Jesse Jackson, the overwhelming support Jews historically have given the Democratic Party was seen to be eroding.
Brown seemed largely to succeed in distancing himself from Jackson, whose presidential campaign he directed in 1988.
Asked to reconcile the differences between Jackson’s stated support of Palestinian statehood and the Democratic party’s opposition to such a state, Brown said: “I just stated my party’s views. That’s not to say that there aren’t Democrats around the country who disagree with them, or even Jews who disagree with them.”
Brown spoke here at the invitation of the Conference of Presidents, which earlier this year met with his Republican counterpart, Lee Atwater.
ASKED ABOUT STANCE ON JERUSALEM
Brown spoke emotionally about the need to “strengthen the bond” between blacks and Jews, and briefly about church-state issues and other social concerns. But the bulk of his prepared remarks described the Democrats’ positions on Israel. These include: Maintaining economic and military aid levels.
Opposing any “imposed settlement” to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Fighting efforts to insert Palestinian statehood planks into local party platforms.
He said the party applauds Israel’s call for Palestinian elections in the administered territories. He also described the new Democratic leadership in Congress as strongly supportive of Israel.
“I am also committed to a vision of our country’s relationship with Israel, which is rooted in history, in shared values and in a strategic alliance with a strong and democratic ally,” said Brown.
Brown was challenged by members of the conference to clarify the Democratic Party’s stance on Jerusalem and to defend the “terse and laconic” Israel plank in the recent Democratic Party platform.
Brown called Jerusalem “the undivided capital of Israel” and said the U.S. Embassy should be moved there from Tel Aviv, “when the time is right.”
On the party platform question, he agreed that words are important, but said that “actions speak a lot louder.” The Republican platform may have been more explicit about that party’s views on Israel, he said, “but when it comes to actions, it’s not even a close call.”