Kemp will not hide extreme stance of Republican Party

Republicans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jack Kemp joined Bob Dole on the GOP's White House ticket. Their relief is understandable considering that the Dole campaign was virtually brain-dead until this week. But while Kemp may have energized the heretofore disheartened GOP delegates, the impact on the Jewish vote will be negligible.

Kemp, despite his charisma and pro-Israel record, will not change the American Jewish community's distrust of Bob Dole. Kemp on the ticket only highlights Dole's poor record on Israel. Dole could have chosen Moshe Dayan as his running mate, and the vast majority of American Jews would still vote the Clinton-Gore ticket.

Kemp and Dole differ dramatically on Israel. Kemp was a consistent supporter of U.S. aid to Israel, while Dole sought to cut aid to Israel. Kemp supported the government of Israel, while Dole was a vitriolic critic. In 1989, Kemp went so far as to lambaste Dole for his "blame-Israel-first mentality" following Dole's criticism of Israel after Iranian-backed terrorists murdered Marine Col. William Higgins.

Dole's choice of Kemp as a running mate may squeeze more money from his Jewish supporters, but it won't mean additional Jewish votes. Americans, Jews and non-Jews, have never voted for a president based on his choice of a running mate. In fact, most pundits believe that the single best asset any vice presidential choice brings to the ticket is avoiding becoming a liability. Some observers asserted that Dan Quayle was pro-Israel. Yet under the guidance of President Bush, U.S.-Israel relations reached an all-time low. American Jews are wise enough to concentrate on the top of the ticket to make their decisions.

Yet, as deep as their differences are on Israel, Messrs. Kemp and Dole recite the Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan script on the separation of church and state and reproductive freedom. Both men voted for a constitutional amendment to permit organized, recited prayer in public schools. Messrs. Dole and Kemp also supported an amendment to withdraw federal aid to school districts that prevent student-led prayer in public schools during class or school event. During his tenure in the Senate, Dole went so far as to vote for an amendment by Jesse Helms to remove state school-prayer statutes from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or other federal courts.

But Dole's support for religious expression apparently doesn't extend to Jews or other members of our armed forces who wear religious apparel; he voted against an amendment to permit military personnel to wear certain items of religious apparel, such as yarmulkes, while in uniform.

With regard to a woman's right to reproductive freedom, Messrs. Dole and Kemp are in full agreement. Both men support a constitutional ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. Kemp consistently voted against access to abortion for women who depend on the government for their health care, and Dole voted against a bill to establish federal criminal and civil penalties for persons who use force or the threat of force to block access to abortion clinics.

If the Dole-Kemp ticket is elected, we can be sure that the combined political power of a Republican White House and a Republican-controlled Congress will foist these extremist GOP positions on the country.

That extremists control the Republican Party should not come as a revelation. The infamous "Contract with America," with its "English only" and pro-gun provisions, is a mirror of the radical right's agenda. The recently adopted GOP platform calls for six constitutional amendments, including those to ban abortion, allow prayer in school, and withdraw citizenship from American-born children of illegal aliens. It's no wonder Pat Buchanan boasts that the platform mirrors his policy positions. It does!

That GOP leaders silenced Buchanan from a formal speaking role at the recent convention but supported the Buchanan-dominated platform is proof that the GOP sought only to avoid the public relations nightmare that followed the extremist speeches of 1992. The GOP, desperate to resurrect its virtually extinct moderate wing in time for the upcoming elections, is cynically hoodwinking voters into believing that the extremists of 1992 no longer dominate the Republican players.

Make no mistake, Buchanan and his ultraconservative allies are the bedrock of today's GOP.

Robertson and Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition brag that one in four delegates at the GOP conventions was a Christian Coalition member and that over 50 percent identified themselves as "Christian conservatives." No one questions the Christian Coalition's right to organize politically. But it's essential that the American Jewish community knows who truly controls much of the Republican Party in this country.

The Dole-Kemp ticket, running on a platform that reads like the radical right manifesto, does not reflect the concerns of the American Jewish community. Any party seeking to ban abortion, allow prayer in school, undermine public education and terminate public funding for the arts, public television and legal services for the poor will be rejected by Jewish — and non-Jewish voters.

This week, some Jewish Republicans – frustrated by years of defending undefendable candidates and intoxicated by the specter of Jack Kemp — dreamed aloud about winning back a respectable portion of the Jewish vote. It's a pipe dream. Bob Dole is flat unacceptable to the American Jewish community, and he will be buried by Bill Clinton, the most pro-Israel, pro-Jewish agenda president in American history.