On Media / Pop Culcha

Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 2000/ 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Binyamin L. Jolkovsky

Largest American Jewish weekly endorses Bush, Lazio

Talk about a 'November surprise'

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE JEWISH PRESS, the largest independent American Jewish weekly, with subscribers in nearly every state and many overseas, this week bucked much of the Jewish establishment by endorsing candidates Gov. George W. Bush for president and Rep. Rick Lazio for U.S. Senate.

The move comes at a time when both men are facing the political fights of their lives, with polling in each respective race indicating a dead heat .

Brooklyn's Jewish community, which forms the core base of the scrappy tabloid's readership, is considered to be a "swing vote." In years past, Jewish neighborhoods have been universally credited with pushing non-incumbent candidates over the top, most recently -- and most notably -- New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But the paper's endorsement was not so much pro-Bush, as it was anti-Gore.

Of primary concern to the editors was Mr. Gore's stance on Israel and, particularly, the Mideast peace process.

In a recent interview with the paper's editorial board, the vice president claimed that President Clinton was "the best friend Israel ever had in the White House." When questioned about whether he would continue the administration's policy of pressuring Israel, Mr. Gore, the paper reports, responded: "What pressure? The president is acting only as an honest broker and in any event, consistent with the wishes of the Israeli government."

Comment Jewish Press editors: "The stark reality is that the Clinton policy of unswerving support for the Oslo process despite the clear absence of reciprocity on the part of the Palestinians has brought the Middle East to the brink of war. Seven years of winking at and overlooking the failure of the Palestinian side to meet its obligations, while at the same time insisting that Israel deliver on what it promised, has led to dangerously unreasonable Palestinian expectations and the notion that at the end of the game the Palestinians will achieve their goals through unilateral Israeli concessions.

"Not only has the above scenario allowed Arafat to avoid preparing his people for peace with Israel which was a central plank of the Oslo Accords but it also cemented in his mind, and in the minds of Palestinians generally, that there was always something more to be had beyond any Israeli offer. The Palestinian savagery visited upon Israelis , coupled with Arafat's cynical celebration of the violence, serves as a graphic illustration of what should have been apparent for a very long time. "

The editorial continues: "Who among us can forget President Clinton's savaging of Prime Minister Netanyahu when the latter insisted on reciprocity? Mr. Netanyahu was regularly disparaged in public statements from the president and Secretary of State Albright on down. And the president's engineering of the electoral victory of Ehud Barak among other things, he shamefully dispatched his political pit bull James Carville to aid Barak's campaign hardly reflects a policy of support for the will of the people of Israel."

But with Mr. Clinton's term up in a few months and the peace process in a shambles, does all this really matter?

Yes, says the paper. And for good reason.

"In recent years, some extraordinarily wealthy members of the Jewish community, major contributors to the Democratic Party, have become part of a cadre of Jewish advisers to President Clinton. They happen to be strong supporters of Oslo, which is their right. But the problem they have created is that they have served to provide cover for the president in his reliance on Oslo to the detriment, we believe, of Israel.

"Yet these are the very individuals one was actually reported to have told President Clinton at a dinner that then-Prime Minister Netanyahu was not interested in peace with the Palestinians who no doubt will play the same role with a Gore Administration and continue to preclude input from other elements in the American Jewish community. "

Though hailed by many in the Jewish community as a political Messiah and the best thing since sliced challah (Sabbath bread), the paper also takes issue with what many traditional and observant Jews regard as inexcusable behavior on the part of the Dems' vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who continues to allow himself to be referred to as "Orthodox," despite staffers claiming, including to this writer, that is not the case.

"Soon after he was selected as Mr. Gore's running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman suddenly changed his stand on a whole host of matters -- including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem -- doubtless to bring them into line with those of the head of the ticket. Thus he became an advocate of affirmative action, gay rights and outreach to Louis Farrakhan. He no longer opposed late-term abortions and became more tolerant of Hollywood's vulgar standards. And he became a staunch opponent of tuition vouchers.

" When one engages in this sort of analysis, it be comes clear that Gov. Bush is in sync with many of us in the Jewish community, and it is unfortunate that the advent of Mr. Lieberman seems to have persuaded Mr. Bush not to actively court the Jewish vote -- a decision reflected in the relatively low level of his poll support among Jews."

Indeed, the paper continues: "Gov. Bush did not make the Middle East more of an issue in the campaign, [but] whenever he was asked about the U.S. role in the Middle East, he invariably replied that he believes in 'standing with an ally' and in allowing the parties to resolve their differences without having solutions imposed upon them. "

The editorial concludes "We are aware that not everyone in the Jewish community agrees with our views, but we rather think that Governor Bush overlooked a significant source of possible support. Although it is now late, it may not be too late for him to seek more support in the American Jewish community.

"All things considered, the prudent choice for president this year is, in our view, Gov. George W. Bush.

To read the editorial in its entirety, including the endorsement of Mr. Lazio, please click here.

Binyamin L. Jolkovsky is editor in chief of JewishWorldReview.com Comment by clicking here.


© 2000 JWR