Who has Gores ear A number of Jews

WASHINGTON — In 1993, Vice President Al Gore devised a plan to encourage American business leaders to invest in areas suddenly under Palestinian self-rule in hopes of bringing economic dividends to the region.

He called on Mel Levine, a Jewish attorney and former congressman from Los Angeles, to co-chair Builders for Peace, along with James Zogby, who headed the Arab American Institute.

The project ended four years later, after meeting with limited success. But Gore has continued to turn to Levine, who now sits on Gore's informal advisory group on foreign policy.

Levine is only one of several Jewish individuals whom Gore, now the Democratic presidential nominee, has called on to help him keep his ear to the ground on issues — both domestic and foreign — of particular concern to American Jews.

Marc Ginsberg, an adviser to President Carter on Middle East affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, is another such Gore adviser. He is now serving as the senior coordinator for foreign policy in the Gore campaign.

With years of hands-on involvement with Israel and Arab states, Ginsberg asserts that he has an understanding of the conflicts as well as a significant appreciation of the region's economics.

Together with Gore national security adviser Leon Feurth, Ginsberg is putting together an advisory group on the Middle East. He also prepares debate material for the vice president and makes sure Gore is up to date on top foreign policy issues.

On the domestic front, Gore has a strong commitment to consult with the American Jewish leadership, according to Steve Grossman, a former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a past president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Grossman, who serves as an informal adviser to Gore, says the vice president reaches out on a regular basis to the Jewish community.

But while Grossman is there to help Gore make good public policy, he says he won't give the vice president a sugar-coated answer on any difficult issue.

Grossman says he tries to present a comprehensive understanding of how the community will view an issue, their concerns about it, and how to take them into account when formulating policies.

"My style is I try to find consensus," he says. "But I give an honest appraisal of the community's views."

Grossman points to charitable choice, the public funding of social service programs run by sectarian organizations, as one such issue that raises concerns among many American Jews.

Grossman asserts that Gore's support for charitable choice — an issue that has already garnered considerable attention this campaign season — should be acceptable to American Jews because Gore is unequivocal about the separation of church and state.

In addition to lay leaders, Gore has spent time with Jewish congressional leaders, including Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who has advised Gore on abortion issues.

Advisers, of course, are still supporters and they are quick to say the vice president doesn't really need their services.

"The vice president is the last person who needs advice," says Ginsberg, who steadfastly touts Gore's record on Israel. "We're there to supplement."