Former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado traded verbal jabs over the weekend regarding their positions on Israel and the Middle East as they wooed New York’s Jewish voters. The two Democratic Presidential hopefuls were campaigning for New York’s 285 delegates in the April 3 primary in which an estimated one-third of the Democratic Party voters are Jewish.
Mondale accused Hart of changing his position on moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and of speaking on both sides of the sale of F-15 jet fighters to Saudi Arabia.
MIXED RECEPTION FOR MONDALE
Mondale, however, received a mixed reception of boos and cheers when he addressed a meeting of more than 1,000 members of the National Council of Young Israel at the Sheraton Centre Hotel yesterday. His speech was interrupted by a small group of men and women shouting “No F-15s, ” a reference to the sale of the fighter planes to Saudi Arabia by the Carter Administration, which Mondale, the then Vice President, supported.
At the beginning of his speech, a young man, identified later as Ron Jacobs of Staten Island, lifted a large banner reading, “We will never forget the F-15s to Saudi Arabia.” Mondale, however, ignored the commotion and continued with his address.
Mondale’s spokesman distributed to reporters at the event a copy of a Hart statement from the Congressional Record on May 15, 1978, in which Hart asked that his vote against the sale of the F-15s not be “misread.” In his statement, Hart said that “Had each sale proposal been presented separately, and had peace negotiations not been at such a crucial point, I could have given each proposed aircraft sale strong support.”
CORDIAL RECEPTION FOR HART
Hart appeared before the Young Israel later in the day and was received cordially by the audience. He reiterated his strong support of Israel, pointed to his pro-Israel record in the Senate and criticized Mondale for supporting the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia. He also reiterated his vow that he will move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if elected President.
He said that his position on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been consistent, noting that a statement by AIPAC last week also said that his position on the relocation of the Embassy to Jerusalem was consistent.
But Hart himself admitted last week, in an address to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, that there was a misunderstanding regarding his position on relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem. He apologized for a letter he wrote conflicting with his position.
In response to a question about a February I letter to Arnold Spicehandler, president of the New Rochelle, NY chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, in which Hart wrote that the status of Jerusalem was open to “negotiations,” the Senator said the letter does not reflect his position accurately. “I apologize for the ambiguity. It is unfortunate,” he said.
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.