Friday, August 15, 2008

PAUL FINDLEY They Dare to Speak Out 7

Sins of Omission
The Israeli lobby's long string of Capitol Hill victories has been broken only a few times in the past forty-two years.72 Two setbacks occurred in the Senate and involved military sales to Saudi Arabia. In 1978 the Sen­ate approved the sale of F-15 fighter planes by a vote of 54-44, and in 1981 it approved the sale of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) intelligence-gathering planes and special equipment for the F-15s by a vote of 52-48. Curiously, both controversies entangled the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the politics of the state of Maine.
This involvement began on the Senate floor one afternoon in the spring of 1978 when Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy received a whis­pered message that brought an angry flush to his face.73 AIPAC had for­saken a Senate Democrat with a consistently pro-Israel record. Senator William Hathaway of Maine, who had, without exception, cast his vote in behalf of Israel's interests, was being "dropped" by the lobby in favor
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of William S. Cohen, his Republican challenger. Kennedy strode to the adjoining cloakroom and reached for a telephone.
Kennedy demanded an explanation from Morris J. Amitay, then executive director of AIPAC. Flustered, Amitay denied that AIPAC had taken a position against Hathaway. The organization, he insisted, pro­vides information on candidates but makes no endorsements. Pressed by Kennedy, Amitay promised to issue a letter to Hathaway compliment­ing him on his support of Israel.
The letter was sent, but the damage had already been done.74 While Amitay was technically correct—AIPAC does not formally endorse can­didates for the House or Senate—the lobby has effective ways to show its colors, raise money, and influence votes. In the Maine race, it was making calls for Cohen and against Hathaway. The shift, so astounding and unsettling to Kennedy, arose from a single "failing" on Hathaway s part. It was a sin of omission, but a cardinal sin nonetheless.
Over the years, Hathaway had sometimes refused to sign letters and resolutions that AIPAC sponsored.75 The resolutions were usually state­ments of opinion by the Senate ("sense of the Senate" resolutions) and had no legislative effect. The lettets were directed to the president or a cabinet officer, urging the official to support Istael. In refusing to sign, Hathaway did not single out AIPAC projects; he often rejected such requests from other interest groups as well, preferring to write his own letters and introduce his own resolutions. Nor did he always refuse AIPAC. Sometimes, as a favor, he would set aside his usual reservations and sign.
Hathaway cooperated in 1975 when AIPAC sponsored its famous "Spirit of 76" letter.76 It bore Hathaway's name and those of seventy-five of his colleagues and carried this message to President Gerald R. Ford: "We urge that you reiterate our nation's long-standing commit­ment to Israel's security by a policy of continued military supplies and diplomatic and economic support." At another moment, this expression would have caused no ripples. Since the administration of John F. Kennedy, the U.S. government had been following a policy of "contin­ued military supplies." But when this letter was made public in January 1975, it shook the executive branch as have few Senate letters in history.
Ford, dissatisfied with Israel's behavior, had just issued a statement calling for a "reappraisal" of U.S. policies in the Middle East.77 His state­
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ment did not mention Israel by name as the offending party, but his mes­sage was clear: Ford wanted better cooperation in reaching a compromise with Arab interests, and "reappraisal" meant suspension of U.S. aid until Israel improved its behaviot. It was a historic proposal, the first time since the Eisenhower era that a U.S. president even hinted publicly that he might suspend aid to Israel.
Israel's response came, not from its own capital, but from the United States Senate. Instead of directly protesting to the White House, Jerusalem activated its lobby in the United States, which, in turn, signed up as supporters of Israel's position more than three-fourths of the mem­bers of the United States Senate.
A more devastating—and intimidating—response could scarcely be conceived. The seventy-six signatures effectively told Ford he could not carry out his threatened "reappraisal." Israel's loyalists in the Senate— Democrats and Republicans alike—were sufficient in number to reject any legislative proposal hostile to Israel that Ford might make, and per­haps even enact a pro-Israeli piece of legislation over a presidential veto.
The letter was a demonstration of impressive clout. Crafted and cir­culated by AIPAC, it had been endorsed, overnight, by a majority of the Senate membership. Several senators who at first had said no quickly changed their positions. Senator John Culver admitted candidly, "The pressure was too great. I caved." So did President Ford. He backed down and never again challenged the lobby.
This wasn't the only time Hathaway answered AIPAC's call to oppose the White House on a major issue. Three years later, Ford's suc­cessor, Jimmy Carter, fought a similar battle with the Israeli lobby.78 At issue this time was a resolution to disapprove Carter's proposal to sell F-15 fighters to Saudi Arabia. The White House needed the support of only one chamber to defeat the resolution. White House strategists felt that the House of Representatives would overwhelmingly vote to defeat the sale, so they decided to put all their resources into the Senate.
Lobbying on both sides was highly visible and aggressive.79 Freder­ick Dutton, chief lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, orchestrated the pro-sale forces on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported, "Almost every morning these days, the black limousines pull up to Washington's Madi­son Hotel to collect their Saudi Arabian passengers. Their destination, very often, is Capitol Hill, where the battle of the F-15s unfolds."80
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The Israeli lobby pulled out all the stops. It coordinated a nationwide public relations campaign that revived, as never before, memories of the genocidal Nazi campaign against European Jews during World War II. In the wake of the highly publicized television series, Holocaust, Capitol Hill was flooded with complimentary copies of the novel on which the TV series was based.81 The books were accompanied by a letter from AIPAC saying, "This chilling account of the extermination of six million Jews underscores Israel's concerns during the current negotiations for security without reliance on outside guarantees." Regarding the book distribution, AIPAC's Aaron Rosenbaum told the Washington Post. "We think, frankly, that it will affect a few votes here and there, and simplify lobbying."82
Senator Wendell Anderson of Minnesota at first agreed to support the proposed sale.83 He told an administration official: "Sure, I'll go for it. It sounds reasonable." But a few days before the vote he called back: "I can't vote for it. I'm up for election, and my Jewish cochairman refuses to go forward if I vote for the F-15s." Furthermore, he said, a Jewish group had met with him and showed him that 70 percent of the con­tributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee the pre­vious year came from Jewish sources.
The pressure was sustained and heavy. Major personalities in the Jewish community warned that the fighter aircraft would constitute a serious threat to Israel. Nevertheless, a prominent Jewish senator, Abra­ham Ribicoff of Connecticut, lined up with Carter. This was a hard blow to Amitay, who had previously worked on Ribicoff s staff. Earlier in the year Ribicoff, while keeping his own counsel on the Saudi arms question, took the uncharacteristic step of sharply criticizing Israeli poli­cies, as well as the tactics of AIPAC. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ribicoff described Israel's retention of occupied tertitory as "wrong" and unworthy of U.S. support.84 He said that AIPAC does "a great disservice to the United States, to Israel, and to the Jewish com­munity." He did not seek re-election in 1980.
The Senate approved the sale, 52-48, but in the process Carter was so bruised that he never again forced a showdown vote in Congress over Middle East policy.
Hathaway was one of the forty-eight who stuck with AIPAC, but this was not sufficient when election time rolled around. AIPAC wanted
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a Senator whose signature—and vote—it could always count on. Search­ing for unswerving loyalty, the lobby switched to Cohen. Its decision came at the very time Hathaway was resisting pressures on the Saudi issue. The staff at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was outraged. One of them declared to a visitor: "AIPAC demands 100 per­cent. If a fine Senator like Hathaway fails to cooperate just once, they are ready to trade in his career."85 A staff member of a Senate commit­tee commented: "To please AIPAC, you have to be more pure than Ivory soap—99.44 percent purity is not good enough."86 Lacking the purity AIPAC demanded, Hathaway was defeated in 1978.
Caught in the AWACS Dilemma
William S. Cohen was elected to the Senate, but he soon found himself in a storm similar to the one Hathaway, his predecessor, had encoun­tered. Once again, a proposal to sell military equipment to Saudi Ara­bia was raising concerns among pro-Israeli forces about a senator from Maine. It occurred soon after Ronald Reagan's inauguration, when the new president decided to approve the same request that the Carter administration had put off the year before. Saudi Arabia would be allowed to purchase its own AWACS planes, along with extra equipment to give Saudi F-15 fighters greater range and firepower. Israeli officials opposed the sale, because, they said, this technology would give Saudi Arabia the capacity to monitor Israeli air force operations.87
As it had in 1978, the Senate became the main battleground, but the White House was slow to organize. Convinced that Jimmy Carter the yeat before had taken on too many diverse issues at once, the Reagan forces decided to concentrare on tax and budget questions in the early months of the new administration. This left a vacuum in the foreign policy realm, which AIPAC skillfully filled. New director Thomas A. Dine orchestrated a bipartisan counterattack against arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. Even before Reagan sent the AWACS proposal to Capitol Hill for consideration, the Associated Press reported that the Israeli lobby had lined up "veto-strength majorities."88
AIPAC's campaign against AWACS began in the House of Repre­sentatives with a public letter attacking the proposal, which was spon­sored by Republican Norman Lent of New York and Democrar Clarence
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Long of Maryland. Ultimately, in October, the House rejected the pro­posed sale by a vote of 301-111, but the real battleground was the Sen­ate. Earlier in the year, before the Senate took up the question, Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon, always a dependable supporter of Israel, announced that fifty-four senators, a majority, had signed a request that Reagan drop the idea. Needing time to persuade the senators to recon­sider, the White House put off the showdown. By September, fifty sen­ators had signed a resolution to veto the sale, and six more promised to sign if necessary. Once more, the White House had no choice but to delay.
This time, the Saudis were testing their relationship with the new president, and they left more of the lobbying to the White House than was true in 1978. Their case relied heavily on the personal efforts of Howard Baker, Republican Senate leader; Senator John Tower, chair­man of the Armed Services Committee; and Senator Charles Percy, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Lobbyist Dutton was instructed to stay in the background, although David Saad, executive director of the National Association of Arab Americans, helped orga­nize the support of U.S. industries that had a stake in the sale.89
Dines team roamed the Senate corridors, while AIPAC's grassroots contacts brought direct pressure from constituents. The Washington Post reported that "AIPAC's fountain of research materials reaches a reader­ship estimated at 200,000 people."90 Senator John Glenn of Ohio said: "I've been getting calls from every Jewish organization in the country. They didn't want to talk about the issues. The big push was to get me to sign this letter and resolution."91 Glenn did not sign, largely because he hoped to broker a deal with the White House.
Syndicated columnist Carl Rowan wrote that "there is strong evi­dence" that the AWACS struggle increased "public resentment against the 'Jewish lobby.' "92 The issue was portrayed by some as a choice between President Reagan and Prime Minister Begin. Bumper stickers appeared around Washington that read, "Reagan or Begin?" When the Senate finally voted, Cohen, who had announced his opposition to the pro­posal, switched and provided one of the critical votes supporting the AWACS sale.93 He explained his reversal by declaring that Israel would have been branded the scapegoat for failure of the Middle East peace process if the proposal were defeated.
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Aside from this "sin," one of "commission" in the eyes of AIPAC, Cohen's behavior was exemplary. Never once did he stray from the fold, and in 1984 AIPAC did not challenge his bid for re-election.
Standing Dp for Civility
One of the most popular members of the Senate, Charles "Mac" Math-ias of Maryland was something of a maverick—a trait that was proba­bly necessary for his political survival. He was a Republican in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one.
During the Nixon administration especially, he frequently dissented from the Republican party line. His opposition to the war in Vietnam and his staunch advocacy of civil rights and welfare initiatives earned him a place on the Nixon administration's "enemies list" of political oppo­nents.94 In a December 1971 speech, before the Watergate break-in at Democratic headquarters that led to Nixon's downfall, and while the country was angrily divided by domestic tensions and the war in Viet­nam, Mathias advised Nixon to work to "bind the nation's wounds."95 He urged the president to "take the high road" in the 1972 campaign and to disavow a campaign strategy "which now seems destined, unneces­sarily, to polarize the country even more." In the same message, Math­ias criticized Nixon's advisers for "divisive exploitation of the so-called social issues [through] . . . the use of hard-line rhetoric on crime, civil rights, civil liberties, and student unrest." Mathias was alarmed at what he saw as the Republican drift to the right.96
In 1975 and 1976 he considered running for president as an inde­pendent "third force" candidate in an effort to forge a "coalition of the center." The late Clarence Mitchell, director of the Washington office of the NAACP, said: "He's always arrived at his position in a reasoned way."97 In fact, early in his career Mathias marked himself as a progres­sive and a champion of civil rights, and his constituency took his liber­alism on social issues in stride.98 A resident of Frederick, Mathias's home town, told the Washington Post, "Why, a lot of people around here think he's too liberal. But they seem to vote for him. The thing is, he's decent. He's got class."99
He also had flashes of daring. In the spring of 1981, he wrote an article in the quarterly Foreign Affairs that he knew would put him in hot
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water with some of his Jewish constituents. In it, Mathias criticized the role played by ethnic lobbies—particularly the Israeli lobby—in the for­mation of U.S. foreign policy. The controversial article upset Maryland's influential Jewish community, which had consistently supported Math-ias's campaigns for office.100 Mathias had voted to sell fighter planes to the Saudis in 1978, and his vote helped President Reagan get Senate clearance for the AWACS sale in 1981.
The same year the controversial article appeared, just after voters elected him to his third term in the Senate, Mathias took another step that appeared so politically inexpedient that many people assumed he had decided to retire from Congress in 1986.101 At the urging of Sena­tors Howard Baker and Charles Percy, who wanted another moderate Republican on the Foreign Relarions Committee, Mathias gave up a senior position on the Appropriations Committee in order to take the foreign policy committee assignment.
His committee decision shook the leadership of Baltimore, the largest city in the state and a competitor for federal grant assistance. As the Baltimore Sun noted in an article critical of the move, "Had he remained on the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Mathias almost cer­tainly would have become chairman of the subcommittee that holds the purse strings for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency of great importance to the 'renaissance' of Baltimore."102
Contrary to the assumptions of Maryland political observers, Math­ias was not planning to retire. He had left a committee that was impor­tant to his constituents, but the senator welcomed the opportunity to help shape the issues that come before the Foreign Relations Commit­tee. He was exhibiting a political philosophy admired by former Senator Mike Mansfield, who once called Mathias "the conscience of the Sen­ate," and by former Secretary of State Henty Kissinger, who recognized Mathias as "one of the few statesmen I met in Washington."103
These qualities led Mathias to write his controversial Foreign Affairs article, which called for "the reintroduction of civility" into the discus­sion of "ethnic advocacy" in Congress.104 He acknowledged that ethnic groups have the right to lobby for legislation, but he warned, "The affir­mation of a right, and of the dangers of suppressing it, does not... assure that the right will be exercised responsibly and for the general good."
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Mathias cited the Israeli lobby as the most powerful ethnic pressure group, noting that it differs from others in that it focuses on vital national security interests and exerts "more constant pressure." Other lobbying groups "show up in a crisis and then disappear" and tend to deal with domestic matters. Mathias continued:
With the exception of the Eisenhower administration, which virtually com­pelled Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai after the 1956 war, American pres­idents, and to an even greater degree Senators and Representatives, have been subjected to recurrent pressures from what has come to be known as the Israel lobby.
He added an indictment of his colleagues: "For the most part they have been responsive [to pro-Israel lobbying pressure], and for reasons not always related either to personal conviction or careful reflection on the national interest."
Mathias illustrated his concern by reviewing the "spectacular" suc­cess of AIPAC in 1975 when the group promoted the "Spirit of 76" let­ter: "Seventy-six of us promptly affixed our signatures, although no hearings had been held, no debate conducted, nor had the administra­tion been invited to present its views."
The Maryland Republican felt that the independence of Congress was compromised by the intimidating effect of AIPAC's lobbying. He wrote that "Congressional conviction" in favor of Israel "has been immeasurably reinforced by the knowledge that political sanctions will be applied to any who fail to deliver" on votes to support high levels of economic and military aid to Israel.
Although he signed AIPAC's letter to President Ford in 1975, Math­ias resisted AIPAC's 1978 lobbying against the Carter administration's proposal to sell sixty F-15 fighter planes to Saudi Arabia. In the Senate debate before the vote, he said that both Israel and Saudi Arabia were important friends of the United States and that "both need our support."
Despite this attempt to balance American interests with those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, Mathias said an "emotional, judgmental atmo­sphere" surrounded the arms sale issue. He quoted from a letter, written to a New York Jewish newspaper, condemning his vote:
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Mr. Mathias values the importance of oil over the well-being of Jews and the state of Israel. . . . The Jewish people cannot be fooled by such a per­son, no matter what he said, because his act proved who he was.
Yet Mathias had already responded to such criticism in his Foreign Affairs article:
Resistance to the pressures of a particular group in itself signals neither a sellout nor even a lack of sympathy with a foreign country or cause, but rather a sincere conviction about the national interest of the United States.
He appealed to both the president and the Congress to "help to reduce the fractiousness and strengthen our sense of common American purpose." The presidents national constituency, he wrote, afforded him a unique opportunity to work toward this end, but Congress, "although more vulnerable to group pressures," must also be active.
Mathias asserted that it is not enough simply to follow public opin­ion: "An elected representative has other duties as well—to formulate and explain to the best of his or her ability the general interest, and to be prepared to accept the political consequences of having done so." He warned that ethnic advocacy tends toward excessiveness and can thwart the higher good of national interests.
The Baltimore Jewish Times reported that Jewish leaders faced "a delicate dilemma" as they considered how to respond to the article:
Basically, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they keep a low profile and do not challenge Mathias s assertions, they feel they will be shirking their duty and giving in. Yet if they "go after" the Senator, they will be falling into a trap by proving his point about excessive pressure.105
Some Jews decided to take the latter course. Arnold Blumberg, a his­tory professor at Towson State University, charged that Mathias "is in the mainstream of a tradition which urged Americans to pursue trade with Japan and Nazi Germany right up to the moment when scrap metal rained on the heads of American GIs from German and Japanese planes."106 A prominent Jewish community official charged that the arti­cle was "malicious" and expressed hurt that Mathias had the "poison in him to express these views."107 Congressman Benjamin S. Rosenthal, a Democrat from New York and a senior member of the House Foreign
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Affairs Committee, charged that Mathias was "standing on the threshold of bigotry" and denying "to the ethnic lobbies alone the right to partici­pate in shaping the American concensus on foreign policy."108 Other crit­ics expressed the fear that the article would encourage anti-Semitism.109
A spokesperson for the Maryland Jewish War Veterans organization said Mathias had "sold" himself "to the cause of the Saudis," while a let­ter to the Baltimore Sun chided, "I wish that [Mathias] had had the integrity to express those views one year prior to his re-election rather than one year after."110
One critic, identified as "a former lobbyist," told the Jewish Times of Baltimore,
Mathias is a bright, well-respected legislator who's been effective on Soviet Jewry, but when it comes to Israel he was always the last to come on board. He was always reluctant, and was pressured by Jewish groups, and he resented the pressure. He sees himself as a statesman above the fray. Now he obviously feels he's in a position to say what he really believes.111
The Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco criti­cized Mathias in its August 3, 1981, "Backgrounder" newsletter for rais­ing the issue of "dual loyalty" within the "Jewish lobby." Mathias dismissed the charge as a false issue.112 In Maryland, the article was denounced by some rabbis, and Rabbi Jacob Angus of Baltimore pub­licly defended Mathias.
Two journalist friends, Frank Mankiewicz and William Safire, warned Mathias that his article would "cause trouble." Two years later, Mankiewicz assessed the senator's future and said he felt the article had created serious problems.
Ethnic lobbying still worried Mathias. Pondering each word over a cup of tea one afternoon in the fall of 1983, he told me,
Ethnic ties enrich American life, but it must be understood they can't become so important that they obscure the primary duty to be an Ameri­can citizen. Sometimes the very volume of this kind of activity can amount to an excessive zeal.
Some of his critics had not even read his article, Mathias recalls with a smile. "In a way, they were saying, I haven't read it, but it's outra­geous." At breakfasts sponsored by Jewish groups, Mathias was regularly
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challenged. "When this happened, I would ask how many had actually read my article. In a crowd of 200, maybe two hands would be raised."
Did the article close off communication with Jewish constituents? "I can't say it closed off access, but I have noticed that invitations have fallen off in the past two years," said Mathias.
Mathias did not seek a fourth term in the Senate. He told a friend that controversy in the Jewish community was a factor in his decision.
$3.1 Million from Pru-lsrael Sources
Boy wonder of industry, self-made millionaire, tireless Republican cam­paigner for progressive causes—Charles H. Percy was a bright prospect for the presidency in the late sixties. He skyrocketed to prominence dur­ing his first term in the Senate, which began in 1967 after he won an upset victory over Paul Douglas, the popular but aging liberal Democrat.
In his first bid for election, 60 percent of Jewish votes—Illinois has the nation's fourth largest Jewish population—went to Douglas.113 But over the next six years Percy supported aid for Israel, urged the Soviet Union to permit emigration of Jews, criticized PLO terrorism, and supported social causes so forcefully that Jews rallied to his side when he ran for re­election. In 1972 Percy accomplished something never before achieved by carrying every county in the state. Even more remarkable for an Illinois Protestant Republican, he received 70 percent of the Jewish vote.
His honeymoon with Jews was interrupted in 1975 when he returned from a trip to the Middle East to declare, "Israel and its lead­ership, for whom I have a high regard, cannot count on the United States in the future just to write a blank check.""4 He said that Israel had missed some opportunities to negotiate, and he described PLO leader Yasser Arafat as "more moderate, relatively speaking, than other extremists such as George Habash." He urged Israel to talk to the PLO, provided the organization renounced terrorism and recognized Israel's right to exist behind secure defensible borders, noting that David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, had said that Israel must be willing to swap real estate for peace.
A week later Percy received this memorandum from his staff: "We have received 2,200 telegrams and 4,000 letters in response to your Mideast statements. . . . [They] run 95 percent against. As you might
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imagine, the majority of hostile mail comes from the Jewish community in Chicago. They threaten to withhold their votes and support for any future endeavors."
That same year, Percy offended pro-Israel activists when he did not sign the famous "Spirit of 76" letter, through which seventy-six of his Senate colleagues effectively blocked President Gerald R. Ford's intended "reappraisal" of Middle East policy. This brought another flood of protest mail."5
Despite these rumblings, the pro-Israel activists did not mount a serious campaign against Percy in 1978. With the senator's unprece­dented 1972 sweep of the state fresh in their minds, they did not seek out a credible opponent either in the primary or the general election. In fact, when the Democratic nomination went largely by default to an unknown lawyer, Alex Seith, Jews took little interest. Even Percy's vote to approve the sale of F-15 planes to Saudi Atabia during the campaign year caused him no serious problem at that time.
In fact, only about one hundred Chicago Jews, few of them promi­nent, openly supported Seith. The challenger's scheduler, who is Jewish, called every synagogue and every Jewish men's and women's organization in the state, but only one agreed to let Seith speak. His campaign man­ager, Gary Ratner, concludes, "Most Jews felt there was no way Percy would lose, so why get him mad at us." Of the $1 million Seith spent, less than $20,000 came from Jews. Encouraged by Philip Klutznick, a prominent Chicago Jewish leader, Illinois Jews contribured several times that amount to Percy. Of seventy Jewish leaders asked to sign an adver­tisement supporting Percy, sixty-five gave their approval. On election day, Jewish support figured heavily in Percy's victory. He received only 53 percent of the statewide vote, but an impressive 61 percent of the Jew­ish vote.
The 1984 campaign was dramatically different. Pro-Israel forces targeted him for defeat early and never let up. Percy upset Jews by vot­ing to support the Reagan administration sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, a sale also supported by the Carter administration. These developments provided new ammunition for the attack already under­way against Percy. His decision was made after staff members who had visired Israel said they had been told by an Istaeli military official that the strategic military balance would nor be affected, bur that they did
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not want the symbolism of the United States doing business with Saudi Arabia.
Early in 1984, AIPAC decided to mobilize the full national resources of the pro-Israel campaign against Percy. In the March primary, it encouraged the candidacy of Congressman Tom Corcoran, Percy's chal­lenger for the nomination. One of Corcoran's chief advisers and fund­raisers was Morris Amitay, former executive director of AIPAC. Corcoran's high-decibel attacks portrayed Percy as anti-Israel. His fund-raising appeals to Jews cited Percy as "Israel's worst adversary in Con­gress." A full-page newspaper advertisement, sponsored by the Corcoran campaign, featured a picture of Arafat and headlined, "Chuck Percy says this man is a moderate."116 A letter to Jewish voters defending Percy and signed by fifty-eight leading Illinois Jews made almost no impact.
Although Percy overcame the primary challenge, Corcoran's attacks damaged his position with Jewish voters and provided a strong base for AIPAC's continuing assault.117 Thomas A. Dine, executive director of AIPAC, set the tone early in the summer by attacking Percy's record at a campaign workshop in Chicago. AIPAC encouraged fund-raising for Paul Simon and mobilized its political resources heavily against Percy. It assigned several student interns full time to the task of anti-Percy research, and it brought more than one hundred university students from out-of-state to campaign for Simon.
Midway through the campaign, AIPAC took a devious step to make Percy look bad. The key votes that were selected by AIPAC and used to rate all senators showed Percy supporting Israel 89 percent of the time during his career. This put him only a few points below Simon's 99-per­cent rating in the House of Representatives—hardly the contrast AIPAC wanted to cite in its anti-Percy campaign. The lobby solved the problem by changing its own rule book in the middle of the game. It added to the selected list a number of obscure votes that Percy had cast in the sub­committee, as well as letters and resolutions that Percy had not signed. The expanded list dropped the senator's rating to only 51 percent, a mark that Simon used when he addressed Jewish audiences.
While most financial support from pro-Israel activists came to Simon from individuals, political action committees figured heavily. By mid-August these committees had contributed $145,870 to Simon, more than to any other Senate candidate.118 By election day, the total had risen ro $235,000, with fifty-five committees participating.
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In addition, California Jewish activist Michael Goland, using a loophole in the federal law, spent $1.6 million for billboard, radio, and television advertising that urged Illinoisans to "dump Percy" and called him a "chameleon." Percy undertook vigorous countermeasures. For­mer Senator Jacob Javits of New York, one of the nation's most promi­nent and respected Jews, and Senator Rudy Boschwitz, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on the Middle East, made personal appearances for Percy in Chicago, and one hundred Illinois Jews, led by former Attorney General Edward H. Levi, sponsored a full-page advertisement declaring that Percy "has delivered for Illinois, delivered for America, and delivered for Israel." The advertisement, in an unstated reference to Goland's attacks, warned, "Don't let our U.S. Senate race be bought by a Californian."
Except for charging in one news conference that Simon incorrectly proclaimed that he had a 100-percent voting record for the pro-Israel lobby, Percy tried to avoid the Israel-Jewish controversy in the campaign.
These precautions proved futile, as did his strong legislative endeav­ors. His initiatives as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Com­mittee brought Israel $425 million more in grant aid than Reagan had requested in 1983 and $325 million more in 1984, but these successes for Israel seemed to make no difference. A poll taken a month before the election showed a large majority of Jews supporting Simon. The Percy campaign found no way to stem the tide.
When the votes were counted, Percy lost statewide by 89,000 votes."9 One exit poll indicated that Percy had won 35 percent of the Jewish vote. In the same balloting, Illinois Jews cast only 30 percent of their votes for the re-election of President Ronald Reagan—evidence of their unhappiness with the chief executive's views on the separation of church and state, abortion, and other social issues, not to mention his insistence on selling AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia.
In an election decided by so few votes, any major influence could be cited as crucial. Although broadly supportive of Reagan's program, Percy was remembered by many voters mainly as a moderate, progressive Republican. Some conservative Republicans rejoiced at his defeat. The "new right," symbolized by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, withheld its support from Percy, and early in the campaign indicated its preference for Simon, despite the latter's extremely liberal record in Congress.
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The Middle East controversy alone may have been sufficient to cost Percy his Senate seat. Thousands of Jews who had voted for Percy in 1978 left him for the Democratic candidate six years later. And these votes fled to Simon mainly because Israel's lobby worked effectively throughout the campaign year to portray the senator as basically anti-Israel. Percys long record of support for Israels needs amounted to a repudiation of the accusation, but too few Jews spoke up publicly in his defense. The senator found that once a candidate is labeled anti-Israel, the poison sinks so swiftly and deeply it is almost impossible to remove.
The Middle East figured heavily in campaign financing as well as voting.120 Simons outlay for the year was $5.3 million, Percys about $6 million. With Goland spending $1.6 million in his own independent attack on Percy, total expenditures on behalf of the Simon candidacy came to $6.9 million.
Forty percent—$3.1 million—of Simons campaign financing came from Jews who were disgruntled over Percys position on Arab-Israel relations. Indeed, Simon was promised half this sum before he became a candidate. While he was still pondering whether to vacate his safe seat in the House of Representatives in order to make the race, he was assured $1.5 million from Jewish sources. The promise came from Robert Schrayer, Chicago area businessman and leader in the Jewish community, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was helping to organize anti-Percy forces in her job as assistant director of political affairs for AIPAC.
Reviewing the impact of the Middle East controversy on his defeat, Percy says, "Did it make the difference? I don't know. But this I believe: I believe Paul Simon would not have run had he not been assured by Bob Schrayer that he would receive the $1.5 million."121 Simon acknowledges, "This assurance was a factor in my decision."
AIPAC's Thomas A. Dine told a Canadian audience: "All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And American politicians—those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire—got the message."122
"Leave the Grandstanding to Others"
The message came through so loud, so clear, that some senators now find it necessary to confer with AIPAC executives before introducing
The Deliberative Body Fails to Deliberate 5
legislation related to the Middle East. One such politician is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who in the 2000 elections won out over her challenger, former Representative and critic of Israel Tom Campbell. Feinstein went on to sponsor, along with Mitch McConnell (R-KY), every blatantly pro-Israel piece of legislation in the 107th Senate. These senators reportedly conferred with Howard Kohr, executive director of AIPAC, before drafting their legislation. Kohr claims to receive "dozens of calls" from lawmakers asking what they can do to help Israel.
On May 2, 2002, Feinstein and McConnell introduced Senate Res­olution 247 which, like Tom DeLay s "Israel First" resolution in the House, criticized the Palestinian Authority, condemned suicide bomb­ings, and made no mention whatsoever of Israeli aggression. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), was appalled:
Nowhere in this resolution is Israel called upon to fulfill its role in work­ing for peace in the Middle East. ... If the Senate is serious about pro­moting peace in the Middle East—and I believe to the depths of my soul that we are—then we should leave the grandstanding to others. We should support the real work of peacekeeping. . . . This is not the time for the United States Senate to wade into the fray waving a sledgehammer in the form of an ill-timed, ill-advised, and one-sided resolution, and I intend to
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vote against it.
The Lobby and the Oval Office

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