Clinton pro-Israel, Cuomo says

November 10, 1992|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Staff Writer

New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo assured an audience in Pikesville last night that the Clinton administration will be more firmly pro-Israel than the Bush administration has been.

Mr. Cuomo was enthusiastically applauded by major contributors at a fund-raiser for Jewish charities when he told them that President-elect Bill Clinton believes strongly that the United States should recognize Jerusalem as "the undivided capital of Israel."

He and Mr. Clinton are at odds with President Bush's Middle East policy, Mr. Cuomo said, adding, "I don't like to hear 'even-handedness' [when speaking of Israel] -- Israel is different, Israel is a special friend of ours."

In response to a question before his speech, Mr. Cuomo declined with a laugh to comment on the speculation that Mr. Clinton may name him to the Supreme Court. But later, replying to a question about what his position on abortion and the death penalty would be were he on the high court, he said, "It is absolutely wrong for a judge to say in advance what he would do."

On such issues as abortion and the death penalty, a justice must be "collegially involved in a real way" with other members of the court, the governor said.

He also said, "The president tries to have done on the court what he is having trouble doing politically." And he reminded his listeners that Mr. Clinton has been unequivocal in his support for "a woman's right to privacy" with respect to abortion.

During his speech at the Chizuk Amuno synagogue on Stevenson Road, Mr. Cuomo sounded more like a man hoping to be secretary of state than a Supreme Court justice. He mentioned his recent trips to Argentina and Israel, and he referred to his discussions of foreign policy with Mr. Clinton.

He made a point of saying that the president-elect has not brought up the subject of the Supreme Court in their conversations. Nevertheless, Mr. Clinton's suggestion during the campaign that the New York governor is an example of the kind of man he would appoint to the high court is "flattering," Mr. Cuomo said.

On Middle East policy, the governor said there should be no consideration of Israel's giving up the occupied territories in exchange for peace before the security of the Jewish nation is assured.

In a reference to American Indian lands, Mr. Cuomo said, "Mr. and Mrs. America, when did you give back land?"

Later, he said, "Nobody ever gives back land they won in a defensive war."

Another foundation of the policies of the Clinton-Gore administration in the Middle East will be an insistence on the end of the Arab boycott of companies that trade with Israel, the New York governor said.

"He [Mr. Clinton] is about as good a bet on Israel as you can imagine," Mr. Cuomo declared.

Speaking of his Roman Catholic roots, Mr. Cuomo drew a comparison between "caritas" -- Latin for charity -- and tzedakah, the Hebrew expression meaning justice and righteousness.

And he noted that his visit to Pikesville coincided with the 54th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night when Nazis vandalized synagogues, and Jewish shops and homes throughout Germany, an infamous event viewed by many as the beginning of the Holocaust.

A spokeswoman for the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore said about 750 families pledged more than $1.4 million to its programs in connection with Mr. Cuomo's visit. Pledges made as the result of the dinner and a reception for a larger crowd that followed were to be applied to the 1993 Baltimore federation goal of $22.5 million. The donations will support Jewish educational, religious, humanitarian, health, cultural and social service programs -- here and in about 40 other countries.

Of the total raised locally in the annual federation campaign, 42 percent is now earmarked for the United Jewish Appeal for distribution overseas. Nearly two-thirds of the 1993 goal has already been raised. About $21 million was raised in Baltimore's 1992 campaign. The federation's annual telephone appeal is expected to contact about 15,000 local families. The appeal will be conducted between 9:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Jewish Community Center on Park Heights Avenue.

Last night's dinner at Chizuk Amuno was attended by 170 donors who pledged $5,000 or more to the federation. The larger crowd at the dessert reception was made up of donors of $1,000 or more.

Mr. Cuomo made a similar appearance on behalf of the annual federation campaign in 1989.

Other speakers in recent years were former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch, in 1991; Simcha Dinitz, head of the agency that manages immigration to Israel; author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel; U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.; and former President Gerald R. Ford.

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