WASHINGTON (Mar. 13)
Vice President George Bush urged some 200 Orthodox Jewish leaders Wednesday to support the Administration’s request for Congressional approval of some $100 million in aid to the Contra rebel forces fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Bush asserted that the Sandinista government is a Marxist-Leninist regime bent on destroying religious freedom, and cited what he termed the “Nazilike tactics” used by the Sandinistas in harassing the small Jewish community in Managua and the desecration of the Managua synagogue.
Bush’s remarks to participants in a National Leadership Mission under the aegis of the Agudath Israel of America was the second attempt by the Administration to rally American Jewish community support for the Contra aid program which is meeting stiff Congressional opposition.
President Reagan last week told a meeting here of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that American Jews should support the Contra aid package. The President sought to link events in Central America to American ability to support Israel when he declared: “Our supply lines to Israel and NATO run through the Caribbean.”
CITES THREATS AGAINST JEWS
Bush, in his remarks Wednesday, quoted a Sandinista official as saying, “We say to our brother Arafat that Nicaragua is his land and that the PLO is the cause of the Sandinistas.” He also referred to threats made against Jews in the Nicaraguan capital that “what Hitler started, we will finish,” and asserted that while Nicaragua’s Jewish community is small, its fate “gives a picture of what is at stake” in the conflict in the Central American region.
Bush also reiterated the Administration’s position in placing human rights at the top of its agenda with the Soviet Union, its priority assignment to the war on international terrorism, and its refusal to talk with the PLO until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. He also expressed gratitude to Agudath Israel’s support for the Administration’s policy of favoring tuition tax credits for students in the non-public schools.
The Agudath Israel delegation was also briefed on Administration policies by Secretary of Education William Bennett, Attorney General Edwin Meese, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel Pierce, and on other topics by a dozen key Congressional members, including Senate Majority leader Robert Dole.