Memo To: Sen. Christopher Bond [R-MO]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your Letter to Colin Powell
I know you mean well, Kit, but I had to shake my head when I read in the NYTimes Saturday that it was your idea to write a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, telling him to get off Israel’s back – and that you got 88 other United States Senators to sign with you. The Times did not list the 11 brave souls who did not sign, but unless they have some good excuse, they of course will be targeted at their next elections by the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC).
The sad fact is that the people of Israel and the rest of the Middle East live in a constant state of fear and misery because AIPAC, as the action arm of the Jewish Political Establishment, makes life miserable here for members of Congress who break ranks when it comes to dealing with Israel’s government. As a Catholic who has been a Zionist supporter back to my teenage years in the late 1940s, I’ve watched with dismay for a half century as the conflict between Arabs and Jews eludes resolution precisely because the right-wing of the Likud Party always pushes for MORE. And its “Amen Corner” in the U.S. Congress – as Pat Buchanan termed it in 1990 – insists that nobody push back. I’m really dismayed to see you picking up the rationale that Israel has a perfect right to defend itself against suicide bombers by sending gunships into Palestinian communities and blowing up buildings suspected of containing bad guys – and shooting to kill teenage boys who throw rocks at Israeli soldiers in retaliation. It is an absolute disgrace that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can authorize assassinations of Palestinian political leaders with less difficulty than it takes our security forces to get the courts to authorize a wiretap.
With that kind of imbalance, it is no wonder that the Islamic world looks upon the United States as a patsy. There is far more reasoned debate in the Israeli Knesset on how to manage security than there is in the U.S. Congress. The only reason I have some optimism that we may finally get a true, peaceful resolution to the two-way terrorism in Israel and the political terrorism that has slopped over into the USA is that President Bush and Colin Powell are being firm in dealing with Sharon who obviously thinks he can give our President the finger when he is asked to stop expanding the Israeli settlements on the West Bank and to stop provoking violent responses by giving Israeli troops the go-ahead to roam around inside PLA neighborhoods and shoot at will. How do you think this looks to the Islamic world in general? How are we ever going to dry up the pools of outrage that boil among the 1.2 billion Muslims if we feed them with these kinds of provocations? If Yasir Arafat could actually control the “Muslim McVeighs” who blow themselves up in acts of retribution, I would consider him the equivalent of Osama bin Laden and argue we declare war on him. But for goodness sakes, Kit, the Israeli secret service, the Shin Beth, has publicly reported that Arafat is doing his best, but terrorists are beyond his control. I was happy to see the Jewish Forward acknowledge this fact. By the way, you should subscribe to the Forward, as I have for years, and you will find far more reasoned opinion than is in your letter to Colin Powell. You need to broaden your scope, I suggest.
I certainly hope that when Secretary Powell gives the speech today that you and your 88 colleagues are trying to influence that he take your views under advisement, and that’s all. Israel needs a push to finally break the zero-sum approach to the problem. We are really closer to a deal between Arab and Jew than anytime in my recollection. Perhaps something good actually will come out of September 11. I certainly hope it does not get worse. And please, do not get mad at me for bringing my thoughts to you in public as I have. You know I have been a Kit Bond fan for lo these many years. I just wish you would have asked around in a wider circle of opinion before you decided to take aim at our Secretary of State.