Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, said today that he believed President Reagan will do “very well” in the Jewish community in this year’s Presidential election “better even” than in 1980 when he received approximately 40 percent of the Jewish vote.
“He (Reagan) seems to be a genuine real amicable person and I think that Jews are not going to be that much different than other voting blocs,” Bronfman said after he led a group of national Jewish women leaders in a 15-minute meeting with Reagan at the White House.
The Jewish women had sought assurances that the United States would, at the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi next year, counter any repeat of the anti-Zionist attacks that occurred at similar conferences in Mexico City in 1975 and Copenhagen in 1980.
STATEMENT BY REAGAN
Reagan “made a very strong statement that if the conference was going to be politicized, if they were going to talk about Zionism and racism, and be anti-Israel and anti-West, then America would have to very seriously consider withdrawing from the conference, “Bronfman told reporters.
Israel Singer, the WJC’s executive director, said that former Vice President Walter Mondale would be asked to put the Democratic Party on record on this issue, too. In addition, he said the leaders of the 67 countries with which the WJC has affiliates will be asked to make a similar pledge.
Bronfman’s prediction on the election was made in response to questions from reporters. He said he knew Mondale, who he was “fond” of and who he also considered a “very amicable person.” But he said he believed that Reagan, after nearly four years in office, was very “popular” in the country.
SAYS THERE IS NO ISRAELI ISSUE
“There is no Israeli issue” Bronfman noted. “The only thing Jews really vote en bloc about is if Israel is threatened. The Jewish community feels, in either case, that President Reagan is a good friend of Israel, and if he should be elected, President Mondale would be a good friend of Israel. That is not an issue. Therefore I think Jews will vote just
The WJC leader said that Reagan reiterated that the Palestine Liberation Organization “is a terrorist organization that neither renounced terrorism nor renounced its desire to push Israel into the sea. Until they do both these things and recognize (United Nations Security Council) Resolutions 242 and 338, the United States would have nothing to do with the PLO.”
CONDEMNS ANTI-SEMITISM IN ALL FORMS
After the meeting, the White House issued a statement which noted that “the President stressed his Administration does not condone anti-Semitism in any form.” Speaking directly about the upcoming Nairobi conference, the statement said:
“The President made clear today that the United States will actively oppose any conference agenda item which deviates from important women’s issues and called for the discussion of non-germane, political issues, including any agenda item that could be used as a vehicle to defame Israel. The United States has consistently opposed such efforts, most recently at the United Nations Population Conference in Mexico City earlier this week.
“In particular, the President noted that the United States will oppose any agenda item at the Nairobi conference which associates Zionism with racism. If, despite our efforts, such an agenda is adopted, the United States will have no choice but to consider seriously cancelling its participation in the conference.”
The Nairobi conference will end the UN Decade for Women. While the decade was inaugurated in 1975, on the themes of “Equality, Development and Peace,” the two previous conferences became platforms for villifying Israel. In Mexico in 1975, the final declaration equated Zionism with racism. In Copenhagen in 1980, the conference adopted a Program of Action which provided that, “United Nations aid to Palestinian women should be given in consultation with the PLO.”
Today’s White House statement also noted that Reagan “expressed his commitment to the security of Israel and his belief that the United States can play an important role in assisting the dialogue between Israel and its neighbors.”
(Last Sunday, according to reports from North Oaks, Minn., Mondale met in his home with Jewish leaders to discuss policy in the Middle East. Included in the discussion, which was initiated by the Mondale campaign committee, were Larry Weinberg, chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Tom Dine, its executive director; Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and president of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; and theodore Mann, president of the American Jewish Congress.)
Bronfman said that Singer presented Reagan with a skullcap knitted by Singer’s wife, Evelyn.
Participating in today’s meeting, according to a White House list, were Frieda Lewis, president of Hadassah and chairperson of the WJC-American section; Barbara Mandel, president, National Council of Jewish Women; Bernice Tannenbaum, president, World Zionist Organization-American Section; Charlotte Jacobson, chairperson, Jewish National Fund; Frieda Kufeld, president, AMIT Women; Linda Sher, of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; and Midge Decter, a New York writer. Another participant was Richard Fox, chairman of the National Republican Jewish Coalition.
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.