October 28, 2004
by Reb Yudel
ISRAEL NEEDS A THOUGHTFUL, EFFECTIVE AMERICA
By Larry Yudelson
I confess: I don't know John Kerry personally. I've never even shaken his hand.
All I have to rely on in judging him on Israel is a spotless voting record as senator; strong endorsement from pro-Israel allies; and his promises that he "will never press Israel to make concessions that will compromise its security."
I have to marvel, nonetheless, at the intensity with which Republicans claim to be able to look into Kerry's soul and find therein an enemy of Israel.
It's the same surety with which they mock Kerry's call for a "more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror" -- as if a thoughtless, ineffective war was a good thing. And it's the same surety with which Bush insisted that toppling Saddam Hussein would create a safer Middle East.
The result has been the opposite.
Even as President Bush was prematurely declaring "mission accomplished," known stores of uranium and high explosives were left unguarded.
So much for keeping deadly weapons from the hands of terrorists.
And so much for proving America strong.
The Administration continues to downplay the cost of the Iraqi war, giving false assurance about the training of Iraqi soldiers.
Bush has illustrated the limits of American military power, and has offered no plans on how to increase it – even as he threatens American financial might through record budget and trade deficits.
By itself, that would be bad news for American client states in the Middle East – that is to say, Israel.
It gets worse.
We have created a vacuum that Iran and Saudi Arabia are entering to their own benefit, a failed state which nurtures terrorism.
As the Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies recently put it, "Iraq has now become a convenient arena for jihad, which has helped al-Qaeda to recover from the setback it suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan. With the growing phenomenon of suicide bombing, the US presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have otherwise been deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat."
The Bush record doesn't looks any more successful, thoughtful or strategic when you look away from the Middle East.
What good is declaring homeland security a priority if the administration allocates more anti-terrorism resources to Wyoming than its police officers can handle but leaves the coastal ports unprotected from bombs smuggled in cargo containers?
What good are the administration's tough words against negotiating with members of the "axis-of-evil" if North Korea now claims to have developed nuclear bombs – and Secretary of State Colin Powell's denials have no credibility at home or abroad?
This pattern of looking away from the real threats continues with Bush's blindness to the aims of Saudi Arabia, a major funder of fundamentalist fanatic terror organizations.
It is an awkward fact that Saudi Arabia's ambassador Prince Bandar is a longtime Bush family friend, and that another family friend, fomer Secretary of State James Baker III is acting as a lawyer to the Saudis.
It is particularly awkward since Saudi Arabia was home of 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11, and the presumptive source of the operation's half million dollar price tag.
The Bush administration has avoided embarassment through the Orwellian tactic of actively rewriting history.
Bush has convinced many Americans – including the majority of those who will vote for his reelection nect week – that the hijackers were Iraqi and that the plot was orchestrated by Saddam Hussein.
Similarly, the administration casts Saddam Hussein – rather than Saudi Arabia – as the major financial backer of a decade's worth of Hamas suicide bombers and the violent intifada of the past four years.
Which raises the unpleasant question: What lies will the Bush administration peddle if granted another four years?
One popular lie this election season is that Bush has always been Israel's most steadfast friend.
Forgotten is the candidate who promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem "as soon as I take office" -- and then didn't.
Forgotten is the president who pushed a "roadmap to peace" on a resistant Israeli prime minister.
Forgotten is the president who protected Yasser Arafat from Prime Minister Sharon threat of exile – and didn't write off Arafat until (like Bill Clinton before him) feeling personally betrayed by the PLO leader.
And forgotten is the administration that quickly threatened Israel's foreign aid over the map of Israel's security wall.
A one-time flip-flop? Not necessarily. Israeli analysts attribute the dramatic decline in Israeli deaths from suicide bombings to the wall. But during the vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney gave credit to the removal of Sadadm Hussein.
Also interesting in Cheney's response to the debate question was his evident pride as he described Bush as "First president ever to say we'll establish and support a Palestinian state next door to Israelis." Imagine the outcry if Kerry had said such a thing! (And note the contrast to Sen. Edwards' strong, emotional support for Israel's right to self-defense.)
I won't claim to see into the soul of the candidates, or predict their behavior in the four years ahead. But what I do know that in the past four years have Bush's deeds have not matched his words, nor have the consequences of his actions matched his predictions. (Does anyone remember the budget surplus and social security lock box?)
Given the choice between a pro-Israel senator, vouched for by such
pro-Israel stalwarts as Steven Grossman and Alan Dershowitz, and an
incumbent president who proudly mocks the desire for "effective" and
"thoughtful" policy, I'm voting for John Kerry without any