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Timeline: Reagan and the Jews

June 7, 2004
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The following are key events in the presidency of Ronald Reagan, focusing on his Middle East policy and relations with the American Jewish community:

Â¥ Nov. 4, 1980: Reagan is elected president with 39 percent of the American Jewish vote. Incumbent President Jimmy Carter receives 45 percent of the Jewish vote and independent candidate John Anderson garners 14 percent.

Â¥ June 7, 1981: Israel destroys the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. The move is condemned by the Reagan administration, which suspends weapons shipments to Israel in response.

Â¥ September 1981: Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin meets with Reagan in Washington. He raises concerns about the sale of AWACS radar aircraft to Saudi Arabia, which the United States finalizes later in the year. The Jewish community lobbied heavily against the sale out of concern that the planes could be used to target Israel.

Â¥ Nov. 30, 1981: The United States and Israel sign a memorandum ! of understanding for mutual security.

Â¥ May 17, 1982. Reagan submits a proposed constitutional amendment on school prayer. No legislative action is taken after hearings on the proposal.

Â¥ June 1982: Reagan calls for Israeli restraint after an assassination attempt by Palestinian terrorists on Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to London. Israel retaliates by invading Lebanon to oust the Palestinian leadership there.

Â¥ June 21, 1982: Reagan hosts Begin in Washington. Throughout the summer, Reagan pressures Israel to end its operations in Lebanon.

Â¥ Sept. 1, 1982: The PLO flees Beirut. Reagan unveils the “Reagan Plan,” calling for a five-year period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and an end to Israeli settlement development there. It is rejected by Israel’s Cabinet.

Â¥ Oct. 23, 1983: An attack at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut kills 241 Americans. Reagan orders U.S. troops out of Beirut early the following year.

Â¥ Sept. 20, 1984: A ca! r bomb kills 23 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Â¥ Oct. 19 84: Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres meets with Reagan and leaders of the American Jewish community in Washington.

Â¥ Nov. 1984: In a landslide victory, Reagan defeats former Vice President Walter Mondale to win a second term. He garners 31 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to Mondale’s 67 percent.

Â¥ April 22, 1985: Israel and the United States sign a free-trade agreement.

Â¥ May 1, 1985: The United States gives Israel $1.5 billion in emergency aid.

Â¥ May 5, 1985: Reagan visits the Bitburg cemetery in West Berlin, where Nazi SS guards are buried. American Jewish leaders object to the visit and lobby the White House to change the location for the event, marking the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. Regan refuses, but adds a visit to Bergen-Belsen to his itinerary.

Â¥ Nov. 21, 1985: Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, is arrested and charged with spying for Israel. He is sentenced to life in prison two years later.

Â¥ M! ay 3, 1986: Israel and the United States agree that Israel will participate in the Strategic Defense Initiative, a space-based missile defense program.

Â¥ October 1986: Reagan meets Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for their second summit at Reykjavik, Iceland. The main topic is arms reduction, but the U.S. delegation hands Soviet officials lists of Jews who have not been allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. Activists for Soviet Jewry also press Gorbachev on the country’s Jews at news conferences.

Â¥ February 1987: The United States names Israel an official non-NATO ally and sells F-16 jets to the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir meets Reagan in Washington.

Â¥ Dec. 6, 1987: More than 250,000 people rally in Washington for freedom for Soviet Jews. The meeting comes the day before Gorbachev’s first visit to Washington.

Â¥ January 1988: U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz unveils a plan for bilateral talks for a permanent settlement of th! e Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Â¥ March 1988: Shamir arrives again i n Washington. Within the next three months, the two countries agree to cooperate on military, political, economic and scientific issues, as well as to develop the Arrow anti-missile rocket.

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