Presidential Election Moments from the Moment Archives

By Gorilovskaya, Nonna | Moment, September-October 2008 | Go to article overview

Presidential Election Moments from the Moment Archives


Gorilovskaya, Nonna, Moment


In Moment's inaugural issue, Rabbi Harold Schulweis fretted about the "rise of Jewish conservatism." The year was 1975, but talk of impending political realignment of the overwhelmingly Democratic Jewish community has not abated. Looking back at Moment's coverage of American presidential campaigns, it is clear that this is not the only discussion topic that remains fixed. Every four years--like clockwork--presidential candidates have confronted accusations of bias, indifference and ignorance about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; distanced themselves from surrogates suspected of anti-Semitism; and expressed unwavering support for the Jewish state.

The answer to what is best for Israel, however, has undergone a fundamental transformation. In a 1992 article for Moment, Bill Clinton, who as president would preside over the signing of the Oslo accords, adamantly rejected the creation of a Palestinian state. Today, the idea is so thoroughly taken for granted by the candidates of both parties that the only questions are those of when, the terms and the role the United States should play. With the help of Leonard Fein, George H.W. Bush, Walter Mondale, Alan Dershowitz and Jon Stewart, we take you back to previous election moments.

1976

"Whether it be Carter or Ford for the next four years, they will be tough years for Israel and years of strain between Israel and the United States."

--Mark Bruzonsky "Waiting on Washington"

1980

"It's not planes and tanks and dollars, not even an easing of the pressure, that will make the difference for Israel. It is a West that works. It is an America that believes in itself, not stridently but soberly. It is a responsible solution to our insane over-dependence on foreign oil, and a continuing effort to redeem America's pledge to its--and the world's--less fortunate."

--Leonard Fein "Norman Thomas, Where Are You Now That We Need You?"

1981

"The taint of anti-Semitism which was to dog all the candidacies hurt [President Jimmy] Carter significantly. Billy Carter's relations with Libya, his crude railings against Jews in the media and in general, his outspoken anti-Zionism and the President's unwillingness to distance himself sufficiently from his brother undermined the Democratic campaign.

"Reagan was caught in the backlash over the Rev. Bailey Smith's assertion that God 'does not hear' the prayers of a Jew. Reagan publicly rejected Smith's statement, but the damage was done by association."

--Aaron Rosenbaum "Woo and Woe on the Campaign Trail"

1983

"Some of the Reagan people come from large corporations with close Arab connections, and some of Reagan's strongest supporters--Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms come to mind--have histories of opposition to civil rights and hostility or indifference to Israel. …

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