NEW YORK (Oct. 11)
Recent German manifestations of anti-Semitism and attacks on foreigners must be seen against the backdrop of the world’s acquiescence to the “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia, Democratic vice presidential candidate Albert Gore Jr. said in a nationwide broadcast.
The senator from Tennessee spoke Friday to Jewish leaders in 27 communities via a satellite video hookup sponsored by the Council of Jewish Federations and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. President Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot have been invited to participate in similar hookups.
In keeping with the broad public policy agenda of NJCRAC, the one-hour exchange ranged in subject from Gore’s reiteration of his strong pro-Israel Senate record to his proposals for increased use of multimedia technology in public schools.
In addition to his call for a “tougher” stance against the ethnic violence in the former Yugoslavia, Gore attacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy regarding Iraq.
Seizing a question about foreign aid, Gore criticized President Bush for providing foreign aid, in the form of agriculture credits, to Saddam Hussein’s regime despite warnings from the CIA that Iraq had embarked on a crash program to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Gore contrasted the Republicans’ foreign policy approach, in which officials “often think they can betray basic values if they line up the power blocks,” with the new “Democratic realism.”
Their “failed realpolitik,” he said, “is as nothing (compared) to a commitment to freedom, a commitment to standing by friends and a commitment to standing by Israel.”
Regarding the Middle East peace talks, Gore said engagement in the peace process does not mean “coming up with an idea and imposing it on Israel.”
But a Bill Clinton administration would not move to overturn the process set up by former Secretary of State James Baker, said Gore. He said the Arkansas governor believes continuity “is extremely important. He will be personally very involved with the process, following it very carefully,” said Gore.
The senator also strongly endorsed maintaining the barriers separating church and state.
“In my mother’s family, there was religious persecution in Europe years ago. They came here in search of religious freedom,” he said.
“When speakers in the Republican Party convention called for a `religious war,’ that caused chills in lots of people, in me,” he said, adding: “I hate to use one of their words, but I think it’s un-American.”
The Republican “religious war” rhetoric, sounded at the August convention by then presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, was also assailed by the Democratic presidential candidate’s wife, Hillary Clinton.
In a telephone conference call Friday with five journalists from American Jewish newspapers, Clinton said she was “personally frightened by talk of a religious war.”
“This election is about the future of this country. It is a struggle for the soul of this country. And we need to affirm basic values,” she said.
Clinton also said her husband opposes using tax credits or tuition vouchers for private and parochial schools. And he is “opposed to any effort to mandate prayer in public schools, she said, though he is “open to looking for ways to promote the values of prayer.”