Moynihan Subcommittee Appointment Viewed As a Positive Step for Israel

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), a favorite of many in the Jewish community for his longtime support of Israel, has been named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

In that position, Moynihan, a third-term senator who is also the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, could be a major figure in U.S.-Israel relations. The Foreign Relations committee plays an important role in authorizing foreign aid.

Tom Dine, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, proclaimed himself delighted with the selection of Moynihan.

“He’s a man who understands international relations, particularly the Middle East, and he has been a true friend” in maintaining strong U.S.-Israel relations, Dine said. “I look forward to working with him.”

“It’s important that Senator Moynihan will assume the chairmanship at this time,” said Mark Pelavin, Washington representative for the American Jewish Congress. “He has long been a leading pro-Israel voice in the Senate, and has provided important leadership on a variety of issues for the pro-Israel community.”

As a senator from New York, a state with a substantial Jewish population, Moynihan could be expected to take a strong interest in matters of concern to his constituents.

But Moynihan’s sympathy for Jewish concerns stretches back through his years of government service. He is perhaps best remembered in the Jewish community for his tenure as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1975-76, when he fought vigorously against the international body’s resolution equating Zionism with racism. That resolution was repealed in December 1991.

Moynihan is “a person who just seems magnetically drawn to the Jews,” said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow in governmental studies at the Brookings Institution who is an old friend of the senator’s.

Hess explained that Moynihan grew up in New York City and was active in city politics. “Being involved in New York politics,” Hess said, “it would be hard not to have been closely identified with Jewish groups and causes.”

Moynihan served in Cabinet-level or sub-Cabinet-level positions in the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford administrations before winning his Senate seat.

Among the other senators named to the Near East subcommittee were newcomers Harlan Mathews (D-Tenn.) and Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.).

Assignments are expected to be made soon to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, another key subcommittee dealing with aid to Israel.

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