Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 24, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/23/2004 9:00:24 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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October 24, 2004
BRITAIN, France and Germany have presented Iran with a package of economic and political incentives as part of a last-ditch attempt to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.
With only a month to go before a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Europeans promised to help Iran build a civilian nuclear industry, as long as it abandons what many regard as efforts to assemble an atomic bomb.
The proposal, contained in a seven-page memorandum, calls on Iran to "suspend all enrichment and reprocessing" activities. Experts fear that this part of Iran's nuclear program could enable Tehran to produce enough enriched uranium for use in a nuclear warhead as early as next year.
If Tehran complies with the offer, the Europeans are ready to help Iran build a light-water reactor and to sell the Iranians nuclear fuel, as long as it is reprocessed outside the country.
The Europeans are also prepared to boost Tehran's trade ties with the West and to help it work within the World Trade Organisation.
But the letter contains a "stick" as well as a "carrot". The Europeans warned that their 15-month-long attempt at "constructive engagement" will cease if Iran turns down the offer. In that case, the Europeans would support America's policy of referring Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punitive measures and give nuclear inspectors more intrusive rights.
There were no negotiations yesterday. The Iranian side simply accepted the European offer and sent the document back to Tehran, where the leadership must decide which course to take. The Iranian delegation predicted they could have their answer ready in days and a second meeting in Vienna now seems likely.
Hopes of a breakthrough are slim, however. President Mohammad Khatami said on Wednesday that Iran "would not give up our rights" to acquire nuclear technology. The Bush administration, which has long argued that oil-rich Iran does not need nuclear power but only wants to acquire the atomic bomb, predicted that the European initiative would probably fail.
Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, said earlier this week that he was waiting for the Europeans to "call us as soon as you have finished".
But his spokesman later suggested that Washington was not holding its breath. "At this point Iranian compliance does not seem likely ... based on Iran's history and their current expressions and the things they are saying and doing right now," said Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman.
WASHINGTON - Israel has not ruled out a military strike against Iran's uranium enrichment facilities in the event of failure of diplomatic means to persuade Tehran to dismantle them, senior military officials and analysts said.
Israel would prefer a diplomatic agreement to shut down Iran's uranium enrichment programme, but if Tehran was approaching a "point of no return", it would not be deterred by the difficulty of a military operation, a media report said on Saturday quoting officials.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his top aides have been asserting for months that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a clear threat to Israel's national security and existence in the highly-volatile region.
They have repeatedly threatened, in elliptical but unmistakable terms, to use force if diplomacy and the threat of sanctions fail.
"All options" were being weighed to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying by the local media, while his Army Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon declared that "We will not rely on others," the Los Angeles Times reported.
Iran presents "a combination of factors that rise to the highest level of Israeli threat perception," the report quoted Gerald Steinberg of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies as saying.
Israel's concerns are magnified by the fact that Iran already possesses the medium-range Shahab-3 missile, which is capable of reaching Israel with either a conventional or non-conventional warhead. Iran said this week that it had test-fired an upgraded, more accurate version of the missile.
Filed at 11:35 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite urging U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei to step down after two terms, the Bush administration may be unwilling to undertake an all-out political battle to oust him, U.S. officials and diplomats say.
ElBaradei, who has worked at the International Atomic Energy Agency for 20 years, officially announced his interest in a third term late last month, rebuffing President Bush's team, which said it hoped he would step down and allow the appointment of a new leader.
A senior U.S. official said: ``We'd rather see an elegant way out for everybody. What we're seeking is a resolution that doesn't force the issue.''
Bush and Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry have both declared that keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists would be their first priority after the Nov. 2 election, and the IAEA is a key player in efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
IAEA directors-general traditionally have not had term limits. But western countries have discussed the need for limits and the White House affirmed its preference for a two-term cap.
Bush administration hard-liners, led by Undersecretary of State John Bolton, fault ElBaradei and the IAEA for not being tough enough on states seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction, including Iran and North Korea.
In the runup to the Iraq war, Elbaradei stoked U.S. anger by saying IAEA inspectors had found no evidence of a continuing nuclear program in Iraq. Bush and top aides insisted the program existed as they made the case for an invasion, but evidence to support the existence of such a program has not been found.
MUCH DEPENDS ON NOV. 2
ElBaradei would have made it easy for his critics if he had agreed to step aside.
His decision to stand for a third term means Washington could provoke an all-out international political battle if it seeks his ouster when the issue comes to a head next year. The IAEA board normally likes to make decisions by consensus.
The U.S. strategy will turn on who wins the presidential election. Bush charted a bold, largely unilateralist, foreign policy course during much of his first term. Kerry has promised to work more closely with allies.
The Massachusetts Democrat has not evolved positions on such issues as the IAEA director-general appointment, campaign sources say.
But a Democratic insider told Reuters that, while some Kerry advisers may like to see ElBaradei replaced, ``We'd have to look at the political consequences.''
Senior Bush officials said there is no obvious alternative candidate to ElBaradei and there is a reluctance, at least in some quarters, to try and forcibly oust an Egyptian-born diplomat from a top U.N. job.
The Clinton administration engineered the ouster of former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, also from Egypt, after one term.
Some U.S. officials predict an effort to kick out another prominent Egyptian -- ElBaradei was considered this year for a Nobel Peace Prize -- would fan new anti-American feelings in the most populous Arab country.
Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, is a close U.S. ally and an important intermediary in the Middle East peace process.
Asked if the Bush administration would actually vote against ElBaradei, another senior official said he did not know.
If Bolton stayed in his current job or were promoted, he might persuade the administration to fight ElBaradei on a third term and this ``could be ``nasty,'' that senior U.S. official said.
The last IAEA director-general, Hans Blix, was in his job for 16 years, and the administration believes these appointments should not be open-ended, officials said.
Once elections take hold in Iraq and W wins in the US, I am confident that Iran is one of our next targets. It is the administration's hope that freedom to their east and west will topple the government, but military force could be necessary. However, we might choose to deal with Syria first.
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004
PARIS, 23 Oct. (IPS) 20 leading European online news sites have rallied to join Reporters Sans Frontieres, or Reporters Without Borders in support of colleagues in Iran as the fifth journalist was arrested on 18 October in a crackdown against the online media.
They are calling for the release of Shahram Rafizadeh, Hanif Mazroui, Rouzbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Omid Memarian and Javad Qolam Tamayomi.
The five journalists, as well as Mehdi Derayati, Masoud Qoreyshi and Ahmad Vatankhah are accused by the leader-controlled Judiciary of contributing to reformist news websites or having created their own independent weblogs. In the past few months, the regime has also tightened filtering of most internet sites, blocking access to several dozen online publications, political, social or cultural weblogs.
"We want to demonstrate our solidarity with our Iranian colleagues, imprisoned simply for doing their jobs", the media said in a statement, adding, "At a time when the Internet has become one of the main sources of news, protecting online journalists and publications is the key to defending press freedom".
Tens of journalists, lawmakers, scholars, artists, intellectuals and politicians as well as families of imprisoned journalists attended on Wednesday a protest meeting called by the Association of Iranian Professional Journalists (AIPJ) and Iranian Association for de Defence of Journalists (IADJ) to denounce the arrests, the largest since the mass crackdown on Iranian media three years ago.
Ordered by Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the leader of the Islamic Republic that the Paris-based RSF has awarded as one of the worlds most dangerous predator on freedom of the press, the Iranian Judiciary shut more than 100 newspapers, weeklies and other publications that had flourished after the first election of Mohammad Khatami as president in May 1979 as well as the arrest of most leading journalists.
These arrests would not stop the free flow of news and information, but helps rumour mill to play a more important role, noted Mr. Mashaallah Shamsolvaezin, the spokesman for the IADJ, while expressing concern for the situation of both the independent press and newsmen.
Mr. Mostafa Tajzadeh, a former Deputy Interior Minister who is now in charge of the reformist internet site Emrooz (Today) also warned that the closing of internet sites and weblogs would lead to the expansion of nigh letters, or clandestine publications that, in his view, would be more dangerous than an open press.
"We are living in a country that wanted to become a model of freedom and democracy, but it has become a place were people are jalous of other nations", he added.
As for Mr. Ali Mazroui, the Head of the AIPJ and the father of Hanif, living as a free person and alive has become very difficult (in Iran), he pointed out, asking why the (Islamic Republic) spends so much money crushing and muzzling the press?
We have fought for democracy and freedom of the expression and the result is that now we stand as accused, he said, as other speakers touched on the appalling situation of students.
"To attract the attention of the authorities to this sad state, 103 journalists and political activists wrote a letter to the leader, but as usual, there was no answer from Mr. Khameneh'i", Mr. Isa Saharkhiz, an outspoken professional journalis told the Persian serive of Germany's State-run Deutsche Welle, adding, "to tell the truth, we didn't expect any answer, since no senor official ever responded to any request".
The crackdown on pro-reform students started after police, revolutionary guards and special security units backed by plainclothes islamist vigilantes stormed students dormitories on the night of 18 July 1999, killing at least one student and wounding and arresting many others, including some who were thrown out of windows three floors under.
As a result, students took to the streets for six consecutive days in the Islamic Republics worst anti-regime demonstrations, shut in blood by the revolutionary guards and basij (volunteer) forces.
In recent months, particularly after the ruling conservatives took over the control of the Majles, or parliament, pressures on students and the civil society also increased, targeting mostly women and the youngs.
In a country where television, radio and newspapers are heavily censored, the Internet is, despite censorship, the only source of independent news and information, the international press watchdog said in a statement.
Families of the arrested journalists have, in a letter to the Judiciary, asked for explaination in regard of the long time that their relatives are held without trial.
A sopkesman for the Judiciary power has said the detainees have not asked to be defended by lawyers have responded, saying they have not been allowed to meet with their clients.
List of online publications taking part in the campaign:
France - Courrierinternational.com, lefigaro.fr, lemonde.fr, nouvelobs.com, lexpress.fr, telerama.fr, zataz.com
Spain- elpais.es, elmundo.es, abc.es, larazon.es, lavanguardia.es, elperiodico.com, periodistas-es.org, pressnetweb.com,
Germany - dw-world.de, netzeitung.de, politik-digital.de spiegel.de, sueddeutsche.de, telepolis.de, de.internet.com
Italy - internazionale.it, unita.it
UK - indexoncensorship.org
Bush asking Iran to eliminate all access to nuclear technology: Gary Sick
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) The Columbia University Professor Gary Sick took part in a telephone interview with the Mehr News Agency on the Bush Administration policy toward Iran, the relations between U.S. and Europe and the U.S. presidential election. The text of the interview follows: Q: What is your assessment of President George W. Bushs policy toward Iran?
A: I think it is extremely unlikely that the Bush administration will take any preemptive military action against Iran, at least under the present circumstances. As you very well know the United States is very heavily occupied in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think the Bush administration knows very well that any attempt to intervene in Iran would in fact be a much bigger problem and probably much more difficult than the operation in Iraq and for that reason I think that is not likely to happen.
There is a real possibility of an accidental escalation either because of Iranian activities or U.S. activities in the region. Whether theres a clash of some sort accidentally in Iraq or along the Iran-Iraq border or at some point in the Persian Gulf. I think an example of that is the Iranian arrest of those British on the river some time ago. Incidents like that which probably are not regarded as aggressive on either sides can escalate into a conflict and I think accidental confrontation is in some ways a danger but clearly the United States is going to keep up its pressure as much as possible on Iran to try to get it to accept a less threatening version of its nuclear program, particularly focusing on enrichment and reprocessing as very dangerous and trying to persuade Iran to give up both of those in ways that would in fact give Iran the capacity to build a nuclear weapon not necessarily to try to stop Iran from building nuclear power plants. Q: What is the role of Iran in establishing stability in Iraq?
A: Yes, I think events in Iraq are going to be very important and particularly as we come up to the elections supposedly in January, if there are outbreaks of fighting, if there is a Shia opposition to the election and if Iran supports the Shia opposition, I think that could in fact lead to very serious differences of views between Iraq and Iran and also between the Unites States and Iran.
Q: The unilateral policy of the U.S. has hurt the relations between the United States and its European allies. Europe has a different approach than that of the current Bush administration but, Mr. Kerry has said his policy is different from that of Bush and he has sought the support of the former allies of the United States. So the Europeans prefer Kerry rather than Bush. What is your opinion in this regard? A: There has been some difference of opinions in the past between Europe and the United States. The Bush administration has taken a very hard line position asking Iran to eliminate all access to nuclear technology. The Europeans were more willing to compromise and to negotiate based on limited Iranian access to nuclear technology particularly peaceful access, nuclear technology that did not immediately threaten the possibility of building a nuclear weapon.
Those differences I think have in fact narrowed very much. The European position and the American position are still different but they are not as different as they used to be. The Europeans are in fact taking a much tougher line with regard to Iran because of this difference of opinion about enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of plutonium.
The Europeans, especially the three countries that have been negotiating with Iran have begun to take a much more demanding view about Irans program so the differences are not that great. The big difference it seems to me between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush is that Mr. Kerry says quite clearly that he would favor a direct dialogue with Iran and he does not say that because he intends to praise Iran or that he has any illusion about differences of views but he does believe that the way to deal with those differences is to address them directly. Mr. Bush does not say that.
The real issue in my mind if Mr. Kerry becomes president is whether Iran itself is preparing for a direct dialogue and that is not clear to me. In the past the United States has proposed talking to Iran, has proposed an opening for discussions and Iran has rejected it. So, I never make any predictions about this because I cant predict who will win in the election, but if Kerry should win the election I think he will in fact propose direct conservation with Iran in some point next year.
I cannot also predict how Iran may respond because in the past some people in Iran said they would like to have direct conservations with United States but others said no, only at very extreme circumstances where pre-conditions were made that the United States has to lift all the sanctions, that the U.S. has to do a whole series of things first then they would be prepared to talk.
To me at this stage its not really predictable, but I do believe that the Unites States and the Europeans will continue to cooperate at some level in terms of their policies which they have been doing up until now. Each takes a different position but they have been in fact coordinating their policies and talking about them and I would expect that to continue not with Europe breaking away from the United States but rather Europe taking a more collaborative view with Iran wanting to talk and the U.S. resisting such operations but both sides talking to each other and collaborating about their view with regard to Iran.
Professor Gary Sick is Adjunct Professor of International Affairs and Acting Director of the Middle East Institute at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. Gary Sick served in the National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan and is the author of two books on U.S.-Iranian relations. He is also the executive director of Gulf 2000, an international research project on political, economic and security developments in the Persian Gulf.
Iran will wait until after the Nov. 2 U.S. elections before responding to a European proposal to provide the country with nuclear fuel before supporting its entry into the World Trade Organization.
The deal would include giving Tehran a light-water reactor that produces less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Iran plans to build, reports Al-Jazeera. In exchange, Iran would suspend all of its own uranium-enrichment activities.
The U.S. is pushing for the International Atomic Energy Agency to send the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. The European proposal is seen as a last-ditch effort to avoid sanctions.
But analysts are now saying that Iran is factoring in a possible Kerry victory.
"I think if Kerry wins, Iran would strike a compromise that would essentially delay the issue until early next year," says Gary Samore of the London think-tank International Institute of Strategic Studies.
Iran's goal, says Samore, is to have the international community concede it's claim to a right to enrich uranium. It may agree to a temporary suspension and await the outcome of the election.
"I don't get a sense that Iran is ready to agree to the suspension. I could see the Iranians restoring the suspension for only a brief period of time," Samore said.
As WorldNetDaily has reported, John Kerry has proposed giving nuclear fuel to Iran to test its intentions.
During the first presidential debate, Kerry said, "I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes."
The same policy of accommodation toward Iran's nuclear aspirations is clearly outlined on Kerry's campaign website as well.
Iranians voted for a secular regime in 1953 under Dr. Mossadeqh. We were strongly fooled by the selfish brits who were worried about their oil supplies and convinced Einsenhower Dr. Mossadeqh was a 'Communist'. Dr. Mossadeqh was the farthest thing from a Communist immaginable. In fact, he consistently denounced the Communist funded parties in Iran including the Tudeh and the Islamist-Marxist MKO. The overthrow eventually became the biggest foreign policy blunder by the US government ...ever.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Sunday turned down a European Union proposal that it stop enriching uranium in return for nuclear technology.
Diplomats had said that if Iran rejected the proposal, most EU countries would back a U.S. demand that Tehran be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on Nov. 25.
"The EU proposal is unbalanced ... unlimited uranium suspension is unacceptable for Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a news conference.
Washington accuses oil-rich Iran of using its nuclear program as a veil for developing an atomic arsenal. Tehran says it only wants to generate electricity.
French, British and German officials are to meet Iranian negotiators on Wednesday to discuss the European offer.
The EU "big three" have led a European effort at compromise that would avoid sending Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council.
The IAEA, the U.N. atomic watchdog body, has been investigating Iran's nuclear program for more than two years.
It has uncovered many previously hidden activities that could be related to a weapons program but has found no "smoking gun."
by Jill Stewart
Sam Kermanian is one of many Jewish Republicans in Los Angeles reaching out to immigrants on behalf of President Bush, yet perhaps the biggest news of all is that such committed immigrant activists in the Republican Party are no longer red hot news.
Kermanian, an Iranian Jewish immigrant, is still rawly aware of how peoples lives in his native Iran are under the strict control of Islamist radicals.
We understand what the president is doing, and we support him strongly, said Kermanian, who stepped down as chairman of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles to join the Bush 04 campaign team. Immigrants look at how the world really is, so they no longer support just the Democrats.
It was no surprise, then, when Bush spoke several words of Spanish during his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City. The gesture went virtually unremarked by the media and caused nary a ripple of discernible backlash in his party.
Ten years ago, veering outside the English language to appeal to a special group of mostly Democratic voters would have been front-page news across the land, but today the imagery of the Republican leadership reaching out to heavily Democratic immigrants is not only commonplace, its indicative of a major shift in views and strategy.
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told his up-by-his-bootstraps tale at the RNC, it was not merely a personal story from the Republican Partys most famous moderate. It was also a direct appeal to immigrants, using the GOPs message of personal responsibility and eventual triumph.
These two RNC moments are indicative of an almost imperceptible change inside the Republican Party to not only reach out to immigrants but to target the message and explain the GOP philosophy as never before. There may be only minor dividends to show for it this November, but Republicans are energized about their chance to make inroads with traditionally Democratic immigrant voters.
Going after the potentially huge vote among Latino immigrants, a heterogeneous group with many contradictory and nuanced views on both policy and values, has become a key focus of the GOP in California. But even among Jewish immigrants, who form only a tiny percentage of voters in California, the GOP has become energized.
Hector Barajas, director of grass-roots development at the California Republican Partys Burbank headquarters, has been building an outreach program to Latinos, who were largely ignored by Republicans for decades. Barajas noted that today, he oversees a massive computerized list of experts and speakers who spread the partys message far beyond Latinos, to niche immigrants of every persuasion.
Were not saying youve got to become a Republican today, but its just: Please listen to the message we are bringing forth, he said of the outreach strategy. Of course we seek the major group, which is Latinos, but now we outreach to Asians, Filipinos and all the various language groups.
We have a group that only goes out to Middle Eastern immigrants, including Jewish immigrants, he continued. We have a spreadsheet of people who speak all the various languages, so if I need to find an Asian American woman teacher who speaks Cantonese, because somebody wants to hear a speech from such a person, I can find somebody right here.
Barajas, who grew up in heavily Mexican-American Echo Park, said, We no longer use this one-size-fits-all method, sending out the Caucasian face or the English speaker to a group who doesnt relate to that.
One of the strongest volunteers to reach out to Jewish immigrants is attorney Paul Weisman, who oversees 350 precinct walkers who are familiar with heavily Jewish areas in Hancock Park and on the Westside.
Noted Barajas, Paul has put his law practice aside, basically, to do this, and his energy level is being replayed in many other urban areas where Jewish Republicans are now a force.
Nobody believes the Republicans will score huge gains among immigrant groups this year. But there are signs that immigrant interest in the Democratic Party is not what it once was. If Republicans can shift even a modest percentage of immigrants to their side, the Democrats could face trouble in coming years even in California.
The voter registration gap between Democrats and Republicans in California is the narrowest it has been since the 1930s, with Democrats holding only an 8 percentage point lead over Republicans. Last Octobers election of Austrian immigrant Schwarzenegger as governor has not only helped pour millions of extra fund-raising dollars into Republican coffers, it has also made voter signup easier.
Now its the Democrats who are sweating, not the once-divided Republicans. Lately, noted Republican pollster Stephen Kinney, large numbers of Latinos especially Latinas have begun registering as decline-to-state voters and rejecting the Democratic Party.
Kinney and many others believe the Democrats have taken immigrants for granted for too long. Nobody knows if the move by Latinos toward decline to state is a harbinger of a sea change in immigrant voter sympathies in other immigrant groups, but Kinney noted, Its definitely not good news for the Democrats.
With immigrant interest in the Democrats waning somewhat, some GOP groups and activists are using the opening to interest immigrants in voting for and contributing money to Bush. Although Latinos get much of the attention, because they represent a potentially vast voting bloc, the Iraq War has enlivened Middle Eastern immigrant groups as well, and some are clearly siding with the GOP.
Kermanian typifies the Republican Jewish immigrants who are speaking out for Bush in 2004. He noted that no polls have been conducted that break out the Iranian Jewish vote for president. However, a poll by the American Jewish Committee shows Jewish support for Bush has jumped from less than 20 percent during the 2000 election to 24 percent now, a roughly 25 percent gain, laid in part to support from Jewish immigrants.
Iranian Jews make up about 30,000 to 35,000 of the half million Iranians in California, Kermanian said, and he estimated 75 percent back Bush.
Our group takes the threat of terror and the militant Islamist ideology a lot more seriously than average Americans and average Jewish Americans, he said. We had to live with it for generations.
Despite working so high up in the GOP effort for Bush in California, however, he does not yet see a fully engaged outreach to Middle Eastern and other immigrant groups, largely because they make up too small a percentage of voters. However, he said, the Republicans now see immigrants as up for grabs, while the Democrats appear to be assuming that they have a lock on the majority of immigrant voters.
Change could come if Republicans effectively spread the Bush message of keeping more of your own money and giving less of it to government, and achieving your aims and your childrens aims with the very values that made you immigrate to the United States, he said.
Si Frumkin is a well-known journalist for Panorama newspaper and political activist in the Russian Jewish community, whose column also runs in three papers in Israel and two in the former Soviet Union. Frumkin is among the growing number of voices urging Jewish immigrants to get involved in politics through the GOP.
Frumkin noted that at a recent Bush-Cheney organizing event at the Sportsmens Lodge in the San Fernando Valley, within the group of about 50 volunteer activists who attended, several were immigrants and six were Jews from the former Soviet Union.
People keep getting in touch with me to register and to get the forms so they can sign up voters, Frumkin said. He said that decades ago, when he arrived in the United States, he and other Russian Jewish immigrants were shocked by the left-leaning views of American Jews.
But todays Russian Jewish immigrants, who he said lean heavily Republican, have gotten over the surprise and are much more eager to speak out than before. American Jews were shocked and horrified at [Ronald] Reagan for calling the former Soviet Union an evil empire, but immigrant Jews knew it was an evil empire. When you go to a party now where the vodka flows, people stand up for America and love America and are real flag wavers.
While there are probably fewer than 100,000 Russian Jews in Southern California, Frumkin noted that they are often very successful in business. What they lack in voting numbers, they make up for in financial contributions to George Bush.
Frumkin, a Holocaust survivor who has lectured at the Wiesenthal Center, said the GOP has also lightened up somewhat, loosening its tie so to speak, in reaching out to immigrants who didnt relate as well to the old, more formal version of the party.
We like to enjoy the campaign fight and say whats on our mind, he said. I like to say, My God, I cannot see Teresa Heinz as the first lady.
The California Republican Party is indeed no longer in the hands of a hard-right faction that dominated its voter registration effort and platform throughout the 1990s. That far-right wing became the tail that wagged the dog of a party that probably has fewer than 20 percent very conservative voters. The hard right drove many voters away from Californias GOP, handing the Democrats their biggest statewide voting victories in 40 years in 2000.
Schwarzeneggers election has helped marginalize the far right in California. But even before Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy in the summer of 2003, the California Republican Party elected two moderates, Duf Sundheim and Mario Rodriguez, as its chairman and vice chairman, in the spring of 2003.
Five years ago, Rodriguez, a hip, bilingual, former military brat who owns a successful printing business, had little chance of being elected to such a post in the GOP. Now, hes in such demand as a public speaker for the Republicans at Latino and other immigrant events, that it can take weeks to book him.
Rodriguezs popularity has not gone unnoticed by outreach czar Barajas, who is making Republican immigrants available as speakers in dozens of different languages, no longer ceding even the high school crowd to the Democrats.
The GOP used to be invited into the high school government classes to give their version of politics and government, and the GOP would not even bother, while the Democrats spoke to all the kids, Barajas said. Now we are there, and we dont shrink from explaining the tough stuff, like why we oppose drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. These kids are the future voters.
Among a dozen top public and private pollsters in California, none believes Bush can win the state. But with a Republican president whos as comfortable in a monied group of Middle Eastern business leaders as with Latinos at a rally in the Southwest, it may be only a matter of time before Democrats have to fight back in order to hang on to immigrants. n
Jill Stewart is a syndicated political columnist. She can be reached at www.jillstewart.net.
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