Jewish Journal


June 10, 2004

Timeline of Reagan, Key Jewish Events


The following are key events in the Ronald Reagan presidency focusing on his Middle East policy and relations with the American Jewish community:

Nov. 4, 1980:

Reagan is elected president with 39 percent of the Jewish vote. Incumbent President Jimmy Carter receives 45 percent of the Jewish vote.

September 1981:

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin meets with Reagan in Washington. He raises concerns about the sale of AWACS radar aircraft to Saudi Arabia, which the United States finalizes later that year. The Jewish community lobbied heavily against the sale out of concern that the planes could be used to target Israel.

June 7, 1981:

Israel destroys the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. The move is condemned by the Reagan administration, which then suspends weapons shipments to Israel.

Nov. 30, 1981:

The United States and Israel sign a memorandum of understanding for mutual security.

May 17, 1982:

Reagan submits a proposed constitutional amendment on school prayer. No legislative action is taken after hearings on the proposal.

June 21, 1982:

Reagan hosts Begin in Washington. Throughout the summer, Reagan pressures Israel to end its operations in Lebanon.

June 1982:

Reagan calls for Israeli restraint after an assassination attempt by Palestinian terrorists on Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to London. Israel retaliates by invading Lebanon to oust the Palestinian leadership there.

Sept. 1, 1982:

The Palestinian Liberation Organization flees Beirut. Reagan unveils the "Reagan Plan," calling for a five-year period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and an end to Israeli settlement development there. It is rejected by Israel's Cabinet.

Jan. 5, 1983:

President Reagan and Israeli President Yitzhak Navon confer at the White House.

Oct. 23, 1983:

An attack at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut kills 241 Americans. Reagan orders U.S. troops out of Beirut early the following year.

Sept. 20, 1984:

A car bomb kills 23 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

October 1984:

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres meets with Reagan and leaders of the U.S. Jewish community in Washington.

November 1984:

In a landslide victory, Reagan defeats former Vice President Walter Mondale to win a second term. He garners 31 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to Mondale's 67 percent.

April 22, 1985:

Israel and the United States sign a free-trade agreement.

May 1, 1985:

The United States gives Israel $1.5 billion in emergency aid.

May 5, 1985:

Reagan visits the Bitburg cemetery in West Berlin, where Nazi SS guards are buried. American Jewish leaders object to the visit and lobby the White House to change the location for the event, marking the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. Reagan refuses, but adds a visit to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to his itinerary.

Nov. 21, 1985:

Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, is arrested and charged with spying for Israel. He is sentenced to life in prison two years later.

October 1986:

Reagan meets Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland for their second summit. The main topic is arms reduction, but the U.S. delegation hands Soviet officials lists of Jews who have not been allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. Activists for Soviet Jewry also press Gorbachev on the country's Jews at news conferences.

Sept. 15 1986:

President Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, at right, hold a press conference at the White House

Nov. 20, 1987:

President Ronald Reagan meets with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the Oval Office

Dec. 6, 1987:

More than 250,000 people rally in Washington for freedom for Soviet Jews. The meeting comes the day before Gorbachev's first visit to Washington.

March 1988:

Shamir arrives again in Washington. Within the next three months, the two countries agree to cooperate on military, political, economic and scientific issues, as well as to develop the Arrow anti-missile rocket.

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