WASHINGTON (Apr. 4)
Vice President Dan Quayle said Tuesday evening that the 1975 U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism is a modern-day version of the Christian blood libel.
He spoke at a unique congressional seder for Soviet Jews, featuring a satellite hookup with mock sedarim in Israel and the Soviet Union.
Sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the seder was designed to promote Operation Exodus, the special UJA campaign being conducted to help finance the resettlement of Soviet Jews in Israel.
UJA’s rabbinical cabinet wrote a gender-neutral Passover Hagaddah that included the word glasnost — especially for the three-hour seder, which was attended by 500 people at the Departmental Auditorium, a federal assembly hall.
A primary purpose of the hookup, which took place at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time in Israel and Moscow, was to symbolically reunite the Uspensky refusenik family in Moscow and Israel. The central refusenik at the Moscow seder was Irina Voronkevich, a botany professor and the Uspensky family matriarch, who is not Jewish.
The hookup allowed Voronkevich to see her 1-year-old great-granddaughter in Israel for the first time. The Uspenskys emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel last year.
Marvin Lender, UJA national chairman-elect, told the crowd that $109 million of the $420 million goal for Operation Exodus has been raised so far.
Shoshana Cardin, chairwoman of NCSJ, spoke of the emerging anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. She also lit the holiday candles.
EXTOLS TOLERATION AND FREEDOM
Quayle sat at the head of the seder table, accompanied by his wife, Marilyn; daughter, Corinne; and Gordon Zacks, a member of the National Jewish Coalition’s steering committee.
The seder was led by the multilingual actor Theodore Bikel, who helped with the translations.
In his speech, interrupted many times by applause, Quayle said, “As a Christian, I am here this evening to affirm my solidarity with the historic struggle of the Jewish people for freedom.
“Though the huge majority of the American people arc committed to toleration and to freedom for all races and creeds, there arc some, unfortunately, who don’t share our commitment.”
He referred to “the likes of David Duke in the Republican Party, who we reject,” and “the likes of Gus Savage in the Democratic Party, whom they should reject.”
Duke is a white-supremacist who serves in the Louisiana state legislature. Savage, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, has made strong attacks against Jews and Israel in recent weeks.
In the olden days around Passover, Quayle said, “Jewish communities throughout Europe were accused of using the blood of Christian children to bake their matzah. This obscene charge is known in history as the blood libel. And it was often the prelude to executions and pogroms.
“We would all like to believe that the grotesque days of blood libel are behind us,” but they arc not, said Quayle, referring to the 1975 U.N. resolution. “This is a modern version of the blood libel,” he said.