Misinformed (Vol. 46, Issue 2)
As the 1980 Presidential election nears, the popular choice of the Yeshiva Student Body has clearly become Governor Reagan. Signs posting slogans in support of Reagan and in denunciation of President Carter abound everywhere in the dorm. Many Yeshiva students have undertaken to campaign strenuously for the G.O.P. ticket, while many others have attended demonstrations heckling Carter. My contention in this brief essay is that the euphoria for the Reagan-Bush campaign is illusionist and that the anti-Carter activities of the students have been counterproduetive,
Let us first begin by recognizing some simple facts. Two crucial Reagan appointments have gone to men who staunchly oppose a strong friendship with the State of Israel. John Connolly, the only presidential candidate who made a clear linkage between oil and the Mideast Politics, now enjoys the top post on Reagan’s staff of foreign policy advisors. Further, Reagan has enlisted George Schulz as a key general advisor. Schulz just happens to be a board member of Bechtel, a firm which supported the American boycott of Jewish companies and deals frequently with Saudi Arabia.
The importance of these appointments should not be underestimated, as a president is probably more influenced by his advisors than his campaign promises. Somehow, once confronted with the economic challenges of oil, pressures for quick settlements, and the aristocratic influences of the State Department — scattered statements of support for Israel become lost in contemporary political realities. The bottom line is still that Reagan has yet to prove himself a real friend of Israel.
Besides these uncertainties remember Carter’s efforts in Mid-east diplomacy. Despite Israeli offers to negotiate for three decades, the first substantial breakthrough towards peace has been the Camp David accords. The treaty has led to the exchange of ambassadors, the opening of borders, and the normalization of relations. Much of the credit for this achievement should be given to Carter and his staff. At the same time, nearly half of all U.S. aid to Israel since its creation as a sovereign state: more than $10 billion — has been given over the last 3% years. The U.S. commitment to Israel has been strengthened after President Ford’s policy of reassessment.
A final point of major importance remains to be made. Even if students believe that Carter has dealt improperly with Israel, it is illogical and wrong to heckle Carter publicly. Does anyone really think that the American people understand or appreciate the reasons for all those “cat-calls” and “boos.” Did any of the hecklers really believe that such yelling would make a favorable impression on his fellow citizens, would incline American sympathies more in support of Israel, or possibly alter votes from Carter to Reagan? The answer is obviously no. It is clear that the heckling accomplished little. However, the heckling did make us appear intolerant and rude. We came across as a loud group of Americans fiercely resolved to harass the President as much as possible, without giving him a chance to speak. Carter himself must have surely taken note of this simplistic approach to forwarding the case for Israel. As students of a university which lauds itself on progressive thought und traditional values, we should have done much better. We should debate and rebut any anti-Israel sentiments; not muzzle the President of the United States in front of the nation.