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Gop Leader Visited Israel in 1967; Agnew’s Popularity with Jews Dwindles

August 9, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Richard M. Nixon stands committed to a policy of friendship with Israel, writes JTA’s Washington correspondent Milton Friedman. Mr. Nixon was the first important United States political personality to visit Israel after the Six-Day War. He commended Israeli leaders on Israel’s triumph and brought words of cheer to wounded Israeli soldiers in military hospitals. The former Vice-President met with Israel’s current Ambassador to the U.S., Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, then Chief of Staff, and other high officials at that time.

Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, of Maryland, Richard M. Nixon’s Vice Presidential choice, drew most of his electoral support from Baltimore Jews and other minority groups when he ran for Governor two years ago. But his popularity with those groups has since declined owing to his staunchly conservative stand on civil rights and welfare programs, observers here told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.

During the Sinai War in 1956, when Mr. Nixon was Vice President under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he developed a personal relationship with Abba Eban, now Israel’s Foreign Minister, who was then Ambassador to Washington.

More recently, Mr. Nixon privately met with Ambassador Rabin on the subject of the current situation in the Middle East. He asked Gen. Rabin many questions about the Middle East deadlock, Arab attitudes, Soviet involvement in the area and Israel’s defense requirements.

He will campaign on the new Republican platform, including a plank that he personally advocated, urging the provision of supersonic jet fighter planes to Israel and “peace table talks among the adversaries.” The platform also specifically condemns Soviet anti-Semitism for the first time in the history of any U.S. national political platform. It warned against an American-Soviet detente at the expense of other nations, such as Israel. Mr. Nixon may soon have an opportunity to intervene on behalf of Soviet Jewry and to seek an easing of the Middle East crisis if he makes the trip to Moscow that he announced during the recent campaign.

During the 1966 gubenatorial campaign, Gov. Agnew was preferred by minority groups over his Democratic opponent, George P. Mahoney, a segregationist. But Mr. Agnew’s ties are closer to the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant communities of rural Maryland than to Baltimore County with its more than 100,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in the state. The Governor’s relations with Maryland Jews have been cordial if not particularly far ranging or deep. This year he named a Jew, Saul Liss, to the Supreme Bench of the City of Baltimore, the fifth Jew on the bench. Last year he named another Jew, Robert Hammerman, to the same bench.

Last October he was named “Man of the Year” of the Golden Eagle Square and Compass Club, the Jewish branch of the Masonic order in Baltimore. In April, 1967, he was named honorary chairman of the Maryland State Committee for Israel Bonds. A formal dinner was held at the State House in Annapolis in celebration of the occasion.

Maryland Jews recalled today that one of Gov. Agnew’s Republican predecessors former Gov. Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, was an ardent supporter of Israel and Jewish causes throughout his two terms as governor and his later terms as Mayor of Baltimore.

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