The Democratic Imperative (Vol. 38, Issue 2)
Richard Nixon will inevitably realize his dream of being president for four more years. Given this assumption, then, the whole question of whither the Jewish vote appears to be pointedly academic. For even if every Jewish voter would decide for Senator McGovern, the simple triviality of our numbers insures that we could not change the outcome of the 1972 presidential election.
Despite this, both the Democrats and Republicans have gone to ridiculous lengths to woo Jewish voters this year. Apparently, there is more involved than the mere bolstering of Nixon’s win or padding of McGovern’s loss. At stake for the two political parties is the future of their entiré constituency and financing operations. At stake for the Jews is the future of our existence as a viable, potent force on the American social scene.
Naturally, Israel is first on our list of concerns. Unfortunately, though, the entire issue of who will best serve Israel’s economic and defense needs has been clouded by an inexhaustible barrage of rhetoric, innuendo and bare-faced lies. We have been led to believe that Richard Nixon is the best friend of Israel and that George McGovern’s concern is nascent and politically motivated. Yet it was ess than a year ago when Nixon's popularity among Jews was only slightly greater than that of another world leader, Anwar Sadat. The Republicans, in eight short months, have succeeded in erasing from our memory Richard Nixon’s consistent record of non-support for Israel and the Jews.
But let the record speak for itself and let us return to 1948. Congressman Nixon then voted to limit the immigration of Jews who were at that time languishing in European DP camps and to simultaneously allow tens of thousands of German nationalists to enter the U.S. freely. And let us not forget the Eisenhower-Nixon eight year arms embargo to Israel while the U.S. steadily armed the major Arab countries.
And let Richard Nixon's record as president speak for itself too. Nixon’s refusal to provide Congressionally approved aid programs to Israel in 1969 was a black mark on his administration. His refusal to sell phantom jets to Israel during his first three years in the White House generated an intolerable defense crisis. And most damning of all, Nixon’s support to this day, as indicated in the 1972 republican campaign handbook, of the Rogers plan for an Israeli pullback from occupied ‘territories and joint Jordanian-Israeli control of Jerusalem, spells “suicide” in the words of Golda Meir.
But what of George McGovern? According to Republicans he first discovered Israel this past summer. Yet while Eisenhower and Nixon were arming the Arabs in 1957, it was George McGovern, in his first vote in congress, who repudiated this policy in an impassioned speech on the house floor:
“As a nation that has played a key role in the creation of Israel, the only real democracy in the Middle East, America may be ill advised in strengthening the hands of those Arab chieftans who insist that they will not rest until Israel is destroyed.”
George McGovern has repeatedly upheld his commitment to Israel’s survival during the last fifteen years and has indicated that his opposition to the corrupt military dictatorship in South Vietnam is no indication that he would turn isolationist and withhold American support from freedom loving democratic countries.
Let us examine, now, another priority of ours, the problem of Soviet Jewry. That every organization involved in the Soviet Jewry movement has endorsed George McGovern’s stand over Richard Nixon comes as no surprise. President Nixon has never publicly spoken out on behalf of the Soviet Jews. He refused to plead for their lives during the infamous Leningrad trials in 1970. In 1971 he denied U.S. support to the Intergovernmental Committee on European Migration which was then functioning to arrange and finance the resettlement of Soviet Jews. And in 1972, with Jews in Russia being held for ransom, Richard Nixon negotiated his wheat deal in damnable silence. Through all of this, beginning in 1963, there was one man who did speak out and did act for the Soviet Jews. He is the Senate’s leading spokesman for Soviet Jewry, Senator George McGovern.
We have seen how four more years of Nixon may be fatal to the Soviet Jews. We can speculate whether Arab oil interests may cause Nixon to drop his alleged support of Israel as he did with Nationalist China and the Soviet Jews. But what of the Jews of America? We too have concerns which are clearly not shared by the President.
Violent crime over the last four years has risen 54%. Yet the rhetorical champion of law and order opposes gun control. McGovern would demand effective gun control legislation. Drug addicts account for 60% of ciry crime yet the Nixon administration through its support of the War in Southeast Asia allows the opium trade to flourish. McGovern would stop aid to all nations sanctioning the production and export of heroin. He would then impose life imprisonment on the drug pushers and crack down on the organized crime bosses profiting from the drug traffic.
Finally we come to economics and to the fact that contrary to popular belief most Jews are not rich. There are thousands living in squalor, without adequate health care, food, and shelter it is here that George McGovern stands alone in his commitment to bring dignity, aid and employment for the poor. Unlike Nixon he is committed to instituting national health insurance which would be a boon to both the poor and the middle class. Unlike Nixon he would shift the burden of tax payment to those who can afford it best and use the additional revenues for better housing and police protection, for a cleaner environment and safer mass transit. It is here that we must stop and ask ourselves what has Richard Nixon done in these areas during his four years as President.
As evidenced by Israel, Soviet Jewry and domestic concerns, George McGovern leads a party dedicated to uphold the ideals and needs of the Jewish people. If the Jews were to vote republican this year, to publicly support the party that has done nothing to elevate us to the prominence we now enjoy, then we cannot logically expect our democratci friends to ever aid us again. In that case, who would then become our allies, the republicans, Spiro Agnew? At the risk of voting for a losing candidate we must support the democratic party.
In every U.S. election the Jews have supported the man and the party which reflected our own high standard of moral integrity. Now more than ever we must uphold the democratic imperative by voting once again, for the nominee of principle, Senator George McGovern.
The preceding column also substantially expresses the views of Mark Koslowe, Editor-in-Chief, Ted Mirvis and Marvin Goldstein, Managing and Senior Editors of The Commentator.