NEW YORK (Dec. 11)
Vice President Dan Quayle, cloaked in a black-and-violet Yeshiva University gown, called Sunday on “the Soviet Union and other nations” to co-sponsor a United Nations resolution with the United States that would rescind the world body’s infamous 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.
The new resolution, he said, “would affirm that Zionism is what Soviet Foreign Minister (Andrei) Gromyko rightly called it back in 1948: the national liberation movement of the Jewish people,” he told an audience gathered for Yeshiva University’s annual Chanukah convocation.
Quayle repeated his message later Sunday evening this time surrounded by a dais of more than 100 Holocaust survivors and dignitaries, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and New York Mayor Ed Koch.
The vice president’s staunchly pro-Israel statements received a warm reception at both the Yeshiva University affair, where Quayle accepted an honorary doctorate, and at the State of Israel Bonds Organization’s Holocaust remembrance dinner, which drew a crowd of 1,500.
During both his speeches, Quayle steered clear of the nuts-and-bolts of the Middle East peace process, omitting any specific mention of either the Israeli peace initiative or the U.S. State Department’s five-point plan for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
When asked about the current negotiations at a news conference held after the Yeshiva University ceremony, Quayle said simply that “we are moving forward with the five-point plan” and that he recognized that “there are going to be differences” between the participants.
But to his Jewish audiences, Quayle kept his focus centered on the United Nations issue, pledging that he would tell U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in a meeting Monday that “for the U.N. to regain its stature, it must rescind the odious resolution equating Zionism with racism.”
U.S. PAYS UNITED NATIONS DUES
A spokesman for the secretary-general said Monday afternoon that Quayle and Perez de Cuellar did discuss the Zionism resolution, though the bulk of their conversation centered on events in Central America and the Bush-Gorbachev summit off the coast of Malta.
During the meeting, Quayle gave Perez de Cuellar a $65 million check, representing the U.S. government’s dues obligations to the international organization.
The United States threatened only last week to withhold its U.N. contribution if the General Assembly were to pass a resolution elevating the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status to that of an observer state.
In Washington, the State Department said Monday that the United States had “mentioned the question” of repealing the 1975 resolution to the Soviets and will continue to discuss it with the Soviets and others.
“We would be pleased if the Soviets would co-sponsor a resolution to repeal the infamous equation of Zionism with racism. But they have so far not indicated whether or not they will do so,” said Richard Boucher, the department’s deputy spokesman.
In presenting Quayle with his honorary degree Sunday, Yeshiva University President Norman Lamm found a biblical parallel for the rocky times Quayle has undergone since his debut under the national spotlight.
“Like another Dan, the biblical Daniel,” Lamm said, “your meteoric rise to power has led, at times, through the lion’s den of biting and unforgiving criticism.”
When accepting the doctoral degree, Quayle offered a little self-criticism, poking fun at his own poor academic record, which made headlines during the 1988 presidential campaign.
Citing Albert Einstein’s famous definition of an education as “that which remains when one has forgotten everything he learned in school,” Quayle said wryly that he found the definition “comforting,” since “for some of us, forgetting what we learned in school isn’t all that difficult.”
(JTA Washington correspondent David Friedman contributed to this report.)