Sen. Bob Packwood (R. Ore.) told members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) yesterday that when they are called a “Jewish lobby” they should consider that a “statement of honor.”
“Do not apologize for your background,” he told the persons attending a luncheon meeting of AIPAC’s 23rd annual policy conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel. “When people say, ‘Oh, that is a Jewish lobby,’ to my mind that is a statement of honor.”
Packwood noted that there was “no criticism” when Americans of Polish descent were “justifiably upset” by the imposition of martial law in Poland; little criticism when Americans of Greek descent gave their views on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus; or when Americans of Hungarian descent opposed the return of the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary. “Love of your roots, tradition, history, is America,” Packwood declared.
The Oregon legislator, who led the fight against the sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other arms to Saudi Arabia last year, said he grew up in Portland and knew no Jews until he went to law school at New York University. He said he has been committed to Israel since he went there after his election to the Senate in 1966. He stressed that this commitment “will not change” regardless of the “vagaries of domestic politics” or whether Israel is popular or unpopular at any particular time.
Packwood praised AIPAC for alerting members of Congress to issues and providing them with needed information. But he stressed that “The most effective lobbying is done at the grass roots” by the people from the area served by a Senator or Representative. Some 1,000 delegates from across the country ended the two-day conference today by visiting their Senators or Representatives.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.