U.S. Minority Politicians to Meet on Backing Israel on Hamas

NEW YORK - Leading Democratic and Republican politicians, representing minority groups, will meet tomorrow in Washington to discuss a plan to enlist support for Israel's hardline position toward Hamas from Hispanic and black members of Congress.

Some 50 black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish lawmakers are expected to participate in the gathering at the annual meeting of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based organization that works to improve relations between blacks, Hispanic and Jews and to promote cooperation between Jewish communities and other ethnic groups.

Also due to attend are Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, and his Republic counterpart, Ken Melman.

Among the organizations that are helping to fund the meeting are the World Jewish Congress, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and LARS, an organization promoting Hispanic human rights.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the foundation, said that this year's meeting has a special significance. "The rise to power of Hamas has created an advocacy problem for Israel, and it is important for members of Congress who are identified with specific ethnic groups to add their voices to the support of Israel."

According to Schneier, "there are reports that Hamas leaders want to visit Venezuela and Bolivia and hope to enlist South American leaders to their cause. This makes it even more important for Israel to win over the leaders of large immigrant groups in the United States."