American Jews and the President: A Record of Dedication (Vol. 58, Issue 3)
Deeds, not merely words, have always been the standard by which we judge our presidential candidates - and 1992 should be no different. President George Bush has clearly demonstrated his actions in strengthening U.S.-Israel relations, insuring the maintenance of adequate levels of security and economic assistance to Israel, and securing the release and emigration of Jews throughout the world to Israel.
An examination of the deeds of President Bush with the Middle East plank of the 1988 Republican Party platform, one that AIPAC Executive Director Tom Dine hailed as the most pro-Israel platform ever, should silence any critics that doubt the President's dedication to issues of concern to the American Jewish community.
The platform pledged to pressure the Soviet Union to open its borders to Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel or elsewhere. The Bush Administration maintained pressure on the Soviet Union that was so vigorously applied during the Reagan Administration, and then went beyond the call of the platform. George Bush was also personally responsible for the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews in Operation Solomon in 1991, just as he was involved in Operation Moses in 1984. In addition, the President's constant demands for new freedoms for Syrian Jews led to the lifting of restrictions on travel and property rights, and the release of the Soued brothers from prison.
The platform pledged to repeal the UN "Zionism is Racism" resolution. Bush garnered world support for this effort and achieved this goal.
The platform pledged to support foreign aid. Bush has proposed over $3 billion in all-grant aid to Israel every year of his presidency - actually much more when we take into account other forms of assistance which have been provided by his administration.
The platform called for a comprehensive plan to enhance strategic cooperation with Israel, including the pre-positioning of war material in Israel and a commitment to pursue the joint Arrow ATBM project. The U.S. now purchases between $300-500 million in defense articles from Israel annually, has increased joint military training with the Israeli Defense Forces, and supports the Arrow project.
The platform pledged to seek peace in the region. Bush is responsible for bringing Arab countries to the peace table, without any preconditions on Israel. The ongoing negotiations have been set up largely along the lines desired by Israel, including the exclusion of PLO representatives and East Jerusalem Palestinians from the talks concerning the territories.
The platform pledged to ensure Israel's security. While Operation Desert Storm was launched to end Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Bush made sure that Israel was adequately protected from Saddam Hussein as well. He rushed two Patriot missile batteries to Israel for defense against Scud missiles. He also requested and received from Congress $650 million in emergency aid to Israel, and provided 25 F-15s to Israel last year over and above the basic aid package.
The platform pledged to oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and the Bush Administration has publicly reiterated this position on numerous occasions, even during the sensitive negotiations of the Middle East peace negotiations.
These successes by President Bush far outweigh the few disagreements we have had on specific issues. The differences should not overshadow the successes. The American Jewish community considered Ronald Reagan the most pro-Israel president in history; yet we also had differences with him: most notably - the sale of advanced AWACS to Saudi Arabia; the Reagan peace plan which called for unilateral cessation of settlement activities without any quid pro quo from the Arabs; his visit to Bitburg cemetery; remarks from Reagan State Department officials which called both East and West Jerusalem "occupied territory"; and the opening of a dialogue with the PLO.
The National Jewish Coalition (NJC), the only national organization of Jewish Republicans, has not hesitated to disagree with and criticize some policies of the Bush Administration, both privately and publicly. At the same time, when appropriate, we have praised and commended the Administration for its many accomplishments in areas of concern to world Jewry. It is through this process that the NJC works to ensure that the community's voice is heard.
George Bush deserves no less from our community than an honest and unemotional examination of his record. We should encourage the positive steps taken by President Bush and Secretary Baker to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, rather than concentrate solely on the issues which divide us. When looked at objectively, George Bush has a proven record of accomplishments, and his administration should receive the praise it deserves. That is why I will vote for George Bush.
Mr. Brooks is the executive director of the National Jewish Coalition