Where does Bush stand on the issues

washington (jta) | Here are some of President Bush’s stated positions on issues of concern to U.S. Jews, compiled from speeches, his letters and statements as president, and a glossy pamphlet published this month presenting Bush’s record as “a friend of the American Jewish community.”


West Bank security barrier:

President Bush sharply criticized the security barrier in its initial conception last year, but dropped objections once Israel agreed to modify the route of the barrier to lessen the impact on Palestinians.

Israel dropped plans to defend the barrier at the International Court of Justice in February after the Bush administration made clear it would oppose the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the matter and would not join Israel in defending the fence at the court. The ICJ ultimately decided the parts of the barrier that go into the West Bank are illegal.

Gaza Strip withdrawal:

Bush has enthusiastically endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip as the best hope for reviving the U.S.-led “road map” peace plan.

Israel’s borders:

Bush’s April 14 letter made history when it recognized some Israeli claims to the West Bank by rejecting a return to the 1949 armistice line, commonly known as the Green Line. The letters also rejected any “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

Yasser Arafat:

Bush has criticized the Palestinian Authority president for supporting terrorism and has made his ouster a condition for the formation of a Palestinian state. Bush has never invited Arafat to the White House.

The U.S. role


Like many presidents before him, Bush pledged during his 2000 campaign to move the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital — and, like each of those presidents, he failed to do so. Republican officials say the commitment to moving the embassy will make another appearance in this year’s party platform.


Bush has won accolades from a broad spectrum of Jewish organizations for his role — considered critical — in getting European nations to examine burgeoning anti-Semitism in two conferences. Democrats have chided him, however, for not speaking out strongly against anti-Semitism among U.S. allies in the Muslim world, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia; Bush administration officials say such criticism is implicit in Bush’s prodding for democratic reforms in those countries.

Domestic issues

Judicial nominees:

Bush says he chooses judges based on their qualifications, not by their position on specific issues. He criticizes what he calls “activist judges” and says that judges should not seek to legislate from the bench. He has repeatedly decried the pace of confirmation of his nominees in the U.S. Senate, saying judges deserve a simple floor vote and should not be held up through procedural tactics (speaking to reporters in Raleigh Durham International Airport on July 7). Some Jewish groups have strongly opposed some of Bush’s nominees, saying they would roll back abortion rights and church-state separation.

Religious freedom:

Bush has made freedom of religion a centerpiece of his administration, and has repeatedly used it to explain his foreign policy. “It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central freedoms in our Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom of the human soul — the right to speak the words that God places in our mouths. We must stand for that freedom in our country. We must speak for that freedom in the world” (Speech to the American Jewish Committee, May 4, 2001).

Faith-based initiatives:

Bush favors transferring some of the role of rendering social services from the federal government to religious institutions. Some Jewish groups worry that his proposals would relax protections against discriminatory hiring and use of federal money to proselytize. “I will continue our efforts to defend the liberty of religious organizations. Faith-based charities have a right to provide publicly funded social services, just like any other group. You see, our government should welcome faith. So I have signed an executive order allowing religious charities who seek government support to compete for funding on a level playing field” (speech to Southern Baptist Convention, June 15).