Friday, August 15, 2008

PAUL FINDLEY They Dare to Speak Out 9

"They Wouldn't Give Him a Dime"
The same year, the pressures of pro-Israeli activists became decisive in the fortunes of a renegade Texas Democrat who turned Republican because he wanted to succeed Jimmy Carter as president.
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In October 1979, John Connally, who had been Democratic gover­nor of Texas, came to Washington to give the first major foreign policy speech of his campaign for the presidency. The field of Republican aspi­rants to the White House was already crowded. Although Ronald Rea­gan had not yet formally entered the race, seven other Republicans had announced their candidacy.
Connally s campaign theme was "leadership for America," and tele­vision advettisements showed him as the "candidate of the forgotten American who goes to church on Sunday."39 America, Connally believed, was looking for leadership. His speech to the Washington Press Club contained a section outlining a plan to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was part of a campaign strategy designed to present the former gov­ernor of Texas and secretary of the treasury as a decisive leader who was capable of talking man to man with powerful foreigners. He had served in several cabinet positions under President Nixon. With his wide-tang­ing political experience, he should have known the sensitivity of the Arab-Israeli question.
Several Middle East peace plans had been advanced by ptesidents, but the plan Connally outlined in his speech was the most ambitious ever presented by a candidate for the office. He argued that the Carter initiative at Camp David had stalled because of failed diplomatic lead­ership and that it was time for the United States to pursue a new Mid­dle East policy, one "based not on individual Arab or Israeli interests, but on American interests."40
American interests demanded peace and stability in the region, Con­nally said, and this could best be achieved by a program whereby the Israelis withdrew from occupied Arab tetritories in return for Arab acceptance of Israeli sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Arabs would be obligated to "renounce forever all hostile actions toward Jews and give up the use of oil supply and prices to force political change." This would ensure an uninterrupted supply of Middle East oil, which, Connally said, "is and will continue to be the lifeblood of Western civ­ilization for decades to come." The United States would guarantee the stability of the region by greatly expanding its military presence there.
Connally became the first prominent presidential candidate to declare his support for Palestinian self-determination.41 He said that the Palestini­ans should have the option of establishing an independent state on the
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West Bank and Gaza or an autonomous area within Jordan. Palestinian leaders who were willing to work for a compromise peace settlement with Israel should be welcomed to discussions, he added, but "those extremists who refuse to cooperate and continue to indulge in terrorism should be treated as international outlaws by the international community."
Connally also suggested that future American aid be conditioned on Israeli willingness to adopt a more reasonable policy on the West Bank. Noting the strain imposed upon the Israeli economy by the need for constant military preparedness, he said, "Without billions of dollars in American economic and military aid, Israel simply could not survive. Yet it is only candid to say that support for this level of aid, in the absence of greater willingness by Israeli leadership to compromise with their neighbors, is eroding." He criticized the Begin governments "policy of creeping annexation of the West Bank," quoting a group of American Jewish leaders who earlier in the year had denounced Israeli policy regarding the West Bank as "morally unacceptable and perilous for the democratic character of the Jewish state."
Connally knew his speech would stir controversy, and indeed the criticism came quick and hard. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said Connally s call for withdrawal from the territories "is a formula for Israel's liquidation." The Washington Star quoted unnamed Israeli officials in Washington as call­ing his plan "a total surrender to blackmail by Arab oil-producing coun­tries." Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said Connally s criticism of the Camp David peace process "gives encouragement to the Arab confrontation states who urge a vio­lent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is disappointing, although perhaps not surprising, that Mr. Connally should emerge as the candi­date of the oil interests."42 Connally s campaign manager later accused the Israeli embassy of orchestrating the attack.
Few news commentators praised his speech. Christian Science Mon­itor columnist Joseph C. Harsch found Connally's peace plan remarkable for its candor.43 Harsch wrote that Connally "broke with and, indeed, defined the pro-Israel lobby." He "said things about Israel which no prominent American politician has dared to say for a long time, with the exception of Senator J. William Fulbright." Agreeing that the peace plan was really nothing new, Harsch pointed out that it "comes out of
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the book of official American foreign policy as stated since the 1967 war." What was unusual, Harsch wrote, was that this policy should be articulated by a candidate for president:
The immediate question is whether Mr. Connally can demonstrate that it is possible to take the official government position on Middle East policy and still survive in the present political climate.
Writing in the Nation, Arthur Samuelson called Connally s plan "both wrong and dangerous," but went on to say that "Connally s can­dor is praiseworthy":
For all too long, public debate over the Middle East has been characterized by a marked dishonesty on the part of aspirants for public office. Rather than put forward how they plan to break the impasse in American-Israeli relations that has remained constant since 1967, they fall over one another in praise of Israel s virtues.44
The Washington Post called Connally s speech "a telling measure of how American debate on this central issue is developing":
No previous candidate for a major party's presidential nomination has staked out a position so opposed to the traditional line. Mr. Connally offers no deference to the "Jewish lobby," attacking the current Israeli governments policies head-on.45
Within a few days of the speech, however, less friendly voices were heard.46 A Jewish Republican running for mayor of Philadelphia snubbed Connally by refusing to be photographed with him. Two Jewish members of Connally s national campaign committee resigned in protest. One of them, Rita Hauser, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Council of the Amer­ican Jewish Committee, called the speech "inexcusable" and said it rep­resented "the straight Saudi line." The second, attorney Arthur Mason, said he was fearful that Connally s speech might stir anti-Semitism.
The bad news kept coming. The New York Republican Committee withdrew its invitation for Connally to speak at its annual Lincoln Day dinner, and traditional big givers boycotted a fund-raiser in New York that was to feature Connally.47 The Washington Post quoted an unnamed source who said the speech had robbed Connally of the support that his
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pro-business positions had won among some Jews: "Now they wouldn't give him a dime."48
Certainly the Connally candidacy suffered problems that were unre­lated to his positions on the Middle East: the campaign experienced orga­nizational difficulties; the forceful Texan came across to some as too "hot" on the "cool" medium of television; and he was undoubtedly hurt by his switch from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1973. But Winton Blount, Connally s campaign chairman, believes that none of these factors equalled the "devastating" effect of the controversial speech. Connally himself says there is "no question" that the speech hurt. Columnist William Safire, an admirer of Connally but also a pro-Israeli hard-liner, made a pained assessment of the speech's effect on the pres­idential race:
Supporters of Israel—along with many others concerned with noisy U.S. weakness in the face of Soviet military and Arab economic threats—made a reassessment of Ronald Reagan and decided he looked ten years younger.49
Succumbing to Israeli Dictates
In 1984 it was no contest at all on the Republican side of the presiden­tial race, either for the nomination or in respect to policy toward Israel. Ronald Reagan had the field to himself, and he was not about to risk a confrontation like the one that had proved fatal to the candidacy of John Connally four years before.
In late 1983, certain to be a candidate for re-election, Reagan was in a position to deliver, not just promise. He encountered Israeli pressures in opposition to his September 1982 peace plan and his delay in deliv­ering fighter aircraft in the wake of Israel's bombing of the Iraq nuclear plant. But he avoided a major showdown with Israel, and, beginning in 1983, Reagan went all-out for the Jewish vote, pandering to the Israeli lobby while trying to keep the Middle East crisis on hold until after the election.50
Polls showed the need for repair work.51 In 1980 Reagan had received 40 percent of the Jewish vote—the largest ever for a Republican presi­dential candidate—but half of this support had since drifted away. In
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April 1983 Albert A. Spiegel, a longtime Reagan supporter, quit as a spe­cial adviser to Reagan on Jewish affairs.52 Spiegel was upset over a news­paper story that said that Reagan intended to press his Middle East peace plan despite Jewish opposition, and that he felt he could be reelected without Jewish votes.
In December, Reagan launched a broad bid for Jewish support. The first action was upgrading the position of the White House liaison with the Jewish community, but his changes on the policy front were even more significant. After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in December 1983, Reagan announced a dramatic increase in the level of aid to Israel.53 Instead of the old formula, under which Israel was required to pay back some of the funds advanced, the administra­tion requested that in the future all aid be in the form of a grant. In addition, in a gesture to Israel's sagging industry, he agreed that $250 million in U.S. aid funds could be spent in Israel to help finance the manufacture of a new Israeli warplane.54 United States aircraft firms were dismayed, because they receive no similar government aid.
Reagan proposed a new, higher level of "strategic cooperation" in the military field and a free trade relationship that would make Israel the only nation with tariff-free access to both the European community and the United States. All of this won applause from the Israeli lobby. Near East Report, the AIPAC newsletter, declared editorially: " [Reagan] has earned the gratitude of all supporters of a strong United States-Israel relationship."55
In March, Reagan made further concessions to the lobby.56 He refused to intercede with Israel at the request of King Hussein of Jordan, whom he had been pressing to join the peace process. Aiming both to strengthen Yasser Arafat against more radical elements within the Pales­tine Liberation Organization and to improve his own influence over the Palestinian cause, Hussein asked the president for help. He wanted Rea­gan to press Israel to permit Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza to attend the upcoming session of the Palestine National Council. In another message, Hussein asked the United States to support a UN resolution declaring illegal the settlements Israel had built in the Arab ter­ritory it occupied, a position maintained for years by previous presidents. Reagan rejected both requests. Hussein rold a reporter for the New York
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Times that "the United States is succumbing to Israeli dictates," and that he saw no hope for future improvement.57
The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination never missed an opportunity to pledge allegiance to Israel. The 1984 presidential con­test often focused on the competition between former Vice President Walter Mondale and Senator Gary Hart on the question of who was more loyal to Israel. Mondale accused Hart of being weak in support­ing the removal of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.58 Hart accused Mondale of trying to "intimidate and coerce Israel into taking unacceptable risks" while he was vice president under President Carter.59
Cy Vance Took the Blame
Actually, Mondale was the principal pro-Israel force within the Carter Administration. During the 1980 campaign, he responded to lobby pres­sure by helping to engineer a diplomatic maneuver that proved costly to the United States. When Donald McHenry, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, cast a vote on March 1 in favor of rebuking Israel pub­licly for its settlements policy—the first such rebuke of an Israeli action since the Eisenhower administration—Jewish circles were furious, and so was Mondale.60 McHenry's vote supported a resolution that offended the pro-Israel lobby on two fronts: it was critical of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and it referred to East Jerusalem as "occupied territory."
Mondale organized an immediate counterattack within White House circles. He persuaded Carter that the State Department had wrongly advised him. Late in the evening of the controversial vote the White House announced a "failure in communications" between Washington and New York. It explained that McHenry had misunderstood his instructions and should have abstained. Three days later, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance personally took the blame for the "failure." Few believed him.61
Both the nation and the Carter-Mondale ticket would have been better off had Carter ignored Mondale's demand for a vote reversal.62 For Carter, the episode was an unrelieved diplomatic disaster. Arabs were outraged by what they viewed as a shameless withdrawal in the face of Jewish pressure.63 American Jews, urged to action by Israeli Defense
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Minister Ariel Sharon, doubted the honesty of the explanation and felt betrayed. Sharon told Jews in New York, "I do not like to interfere with internal United States affairs, but the question of Israeli security is a question for Jews anywhere in the world."64 To the world, the adminis­tration appeared out of control.
Senator Edward Kennedy was the main beneficiary of Carrer s embarrassment. Calling the UN vote a "betrayal" of Israel, he won the Massachusetts primary by two to one. He also carried New York and Connecticut, where earlier polls had shown Carter ahead. In New York, Jews voted four-to-one for Kennedy. A member of the Israeli parliament said: "The American Jewish community showed itself to have the lever­age to swing a vote over the issue of whether the president is good to Israel."
Mondale's measures did not placate the Jewish vote. In November, Carter-Mondale became the first Democratic presidential ticket to fail to win a majority of the Jewish votes cast. Exit polls showed it received, at the most, 47 percent.65
After losing to the Reagan-Bush ticket, Mondale devoted himself full-time to campaigning for the presidency, with his uncritical support of Israel becoming a principal plank in his platform. Early in the cam­paign, he dismissed the idea that Saudi Arabia would "become a strong assertive force for moderation" and urged the prepositioning of high-technology U.S. military equipment in the custody of Israeli "techni­cians, an arrangement that would eliminate any possibility that the equipment could be used for purposes independent of Israeli wishes."
Later, Mondale and his campaign team carefully avoided any rela­tionship with Arab interests, or even Arab American interests. In June 1984 this zeal led Thomas Rosenberg, Mondale's finance director in Illi­nois, to return five $ 1,000 checks to Chicagoans of Arab ancestiy who had presented them as campaign donations.66 He explained that some of the comments they had made in a personal meeting with Mondale amounted to "an anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic diatribe." One of the five, Albert Joseph, a lifelong Democrat and owner of Hunter Publishing, denied the accusation, recalling, "We passed forty-five minutes with [Mondale] in the utmost friendliness and respect."
Joseph said that when the checks were returned he was informed by Joseph Gomez, at the time a member of the Mondale finance commit­
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tee in Illinois, that Mondales organization had decided to "take no more money from Arab Americans in the future." The Chicago publisher said he felt "insulted, betrayed, and shocked." He told a reporter that Mon­dale was "disenfranchising a whole group of Americans." Upset by the decision to return the funds, Gomez, a Chicago banker and Hispanic leader, withdrew from the Mondale campaign. Gomez said the Mon­dale campaign decision confirmed his view that "people of Arab ances­try are the most persecuted group in America today."
Candidate Gary Hart's record of support for Israel was as unblem­ished as Mondales, and his campaign organization displayed a similar indifference to Arab American sensibilities. Upon learning that the First American Bank in Washington, D.C.—where he had done his personal banking for years—had been purchased by a group of Middle East investors in 1982, Hart immediately closed out a campaign loan of $700,000 and severed all ties with the bank.67 His special counsel explained, "We didn't know it was an Arab bank. We got [Hart] out of it as soon as we knew." Hart's competitor for the nomination, Jesse Jack­son, denounced the move as a "serious act of racism."68
As a senator, Hart voted for every pro-Israeli measure, opposed every initiative intended to provide arms to Arab states, and put his signature on every major letter and resolution helpful to the Israeli cause.69 When a few colleagues, such as Senator John Glenn, condemned Israel's raid on rhe Iraqi nuclear installation, he deplored the condemnation.
"Intimidation is Su Great"
Senators Ernest Hollings of South Carolina and Alan Cranston of Cali­fornia and former Florida governor Reuben Askew—early dropouts in the Democratic competition—were similarly uncritical in their support of Israel.70 So was Senator John Glenn of Ohio, who had been expected by many observers to take a middle road position on Middle East policy. In the past he had criticized Israeli military actions, supported the sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia, and even suggested talks with the PLO.71 Bitten by the presidential bug, Glenn shifted ground in 1983, effec­tively ruling out such talks and excusing his vote for the F-15 sale on the grounds that Saudi Arabia would otherwise have bought planes from France with "no strings attached."72
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In a speech to the Foreign Policy Association in New York, Glenn went much further, saying that the United States should recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel once the terms of Camp David were completed or if negotiations broke down completely.73 He charac­terized the PLO as "little more than a gang of thugs" and said the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East was Arab refusal to accept the legit­imacy of Israel.
Although the speech did not allay Jewish suspicion, it cost him the support of citizens who felt that the next president must respond to Arab as well as Israeli concerns. One of Glenn's closest colleagues, an Ohio congressman, reacted with alarm and distress: "Glenn caved in, and he didn't have to do it. I was so demoralized by that statement I delayed making some calls to labor people in his behalf."74 The speech caused a veteran diplomat of the Johnson administration, former Ambassador Lucius Battle, to refuse to serve as a Glenn foreign policy adviser.75
Only two candidates spoke up for a balanced policy in the Middle East: black civil rights activist Jesse L. Jackson and George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and criticized Israeli military and settlement actions.76 His proposals were even more precise than those that brought John Connally's campaign to an end four years before.
In a speech at a Massachusetts synagogue in February, McGovern asked, "Is it not both bad politics and bad ethics to brand as anti-Israel an American politician who is willing to apply the same critical stan­dards to Israeli policies that are applied to United States policies?"77 McGovern said that even though during his twenty-two years in Con­gress he had voted " 100 percent" for measures providing economic and military aid to Israel, he nevertheless opposed Israel's invasion of Leba­non: "I don't think one sovereign nation has the right to invade another."
Neither McGovern nor Jackson had a serious prospect for nomina­tion. In different ways, each presented himself in the role of "party con­science." The "Super Tuesday" primaries in March eliminated McGovern, and only Jackson's conscience remained in the campaign.78
Jackson had become controversial with U.S. Jews four years before his presidential bid, when he carried his human rights activism abroad to Lebanon and there met PLO leader Yasser Arafat.79 Until then, the for­mer disciple of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., worked mainly for
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black rights through his organization, People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), a Chicago-based group that received substantial Jewish finan­cial support. In Lebanon, he came face-to-face with the misery of Pales­tinians, describing them as "the niggers of the Middle East."
Early in 1983, Jackson began traveling around the country as a "non-candidate" but already drumming up interest in a "rainbow coalition" of interest groups. At a time when prospective candidates often try to blur controversial statements made in the past, Jackson reiterated his recom­mendation that the United States open a dialogue with the Palestine Lib­eration Organization. In a televised statement in New York, he said the United States could best help Israel by supporting the creation of a Pales­tinian homeland. Until that happened, he said, Palestinians would engage in "more acts of terrorism, more acts of desperation." He urged direct U.S. talks with the PLO to get the peace process moving, but he said that our diplomats could not even discuss this option, because "intimidation is so great" in the United States. These statements put him at odds with most Jewish leaders.
By the time Jackson became a candidate in October 1983, Wash­ington Post editorial editor Meg Greenfield had called him one of the nations two greatest political orators (sharing the honor with President Reagan).80 Jackson immediately enlivened the political scene by flying to Syria, where he negotiated the release of a U.S. Navy pilot held captive there.81 He proclaimed, "The temperature has been lowered somewhat between Syria and America. The cycle of pain has been broken."82
In the critical primaries beginning in March, Jackson received impressive support in Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as in southern states. In televised debates with Mondale and Hart, Jackson called for compassion in dealing with all people in the Middle East and tejected the "terrorist" labels so often attached to all Palestinians.83 While Mondale and Hart rejected Jackson's plea for a comprehensive Middle East peace involving a Palestinian homeland in the West Bank, the exchange was moderate in terms and expression. It was the first time that Palestinian righrs had been discussed with civility in a presidential campaign.
Jackson found himself on the defensive when a reporter disclosed that, in a private conversation, he had referred to Jews as "Hymies" and New York as "Hymietown," a slip that led many to charge him with
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being anti-Semitic.84 He was encumbered by the endorsement of con­troversial black leader Louis Farrakhan, who called Judaism a "dirty reli­gion" and Hitler a "wickedly great man." Inspired by attacks from Jewish leaders, the press never let up in pressing him about the allegations of anti-Semitism and his relationship with Farrakhan.85 Even in his press conference in Cuba, where his endeavors brought the release of several U.S. citizens, the anti-Semitic theme dominated the questioning. In advance of the Democratic convention, the American Jewish Commit­tee organized a campaign to keep Jackson from attaining prominence in the campaign of the expected nominee, Walter Mondale.86
Despite these problems, Jackson rallied support broadly enough to remain a major factor throughout the convention. While no one expected Jackson to be on the presidential ticket, he emerged a winner even before the convention. He proved that a black man could be a cred­ible candidate for the nation's highest office, even while supporting posi­tions strongly opposed by the Istaeli lobby. In doing so, he lifted the self-esteem of two ethnic groups often abused or neglected in U.S. soci­ety: blacks and Arab Americans.
The winner of the presidential sweepstakes, Ronald Reagan, was left to wondet if his heroic endeavors for Israel had paid off at the polls. He received 31 percenr of the Jewish vote, down from rhe 40 percent he received in 1980.
"One Lonely Little Guy"
Reagan's successor, President George H. W. Bush, did slightly worse than his former boss in the 1988 elections, receiving an even smaller percentage of the national Jewish vote. Two years later, Bush got involved in what one author calls "the most noteworthy showdown with Israel and the American-Israeli lobby of any American president."87 It began in March 1990, when Israel submitted a request to the United States for more than $1 billion in loans, gifts, and donations. The money was going to pay to resettle Soviet Jews in the occupied territo­ries—in clear violation of international law. Bush's response was simple and straightforward: There should be no new settlements in the West Bank or Easr Jerusalem."
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This reiteration of American policy would open the floodgates to a tidal wave of criticism. Eighteen months later in September 1991 the request was repeated—except this time, Israel asked for a $10 billion loan guarantee. Again, the purpose was to build and expand settlements in the occupied territories. The request was made despite U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's suggestion five months earlier that Israel cease settlement expansion, which Baker called "an obstacle" to peace. Adding to the Oval Office's concerns were Bush's plans to convene an Arab-Israeli peace conference in Madrid—plans that would have been significantly undermined had the president agreed to subsidize further illegal Israeli settlements.
Bush asked Congress to delay the loan guarantees for four months. Immediately, almost one thousand pro-Israel lobbyists swamped Capitol Hill, insisting that the United States dispense the guarantees at once. Congress, not surprisingly, was inclined to listen. Sensing that both his authority and plans for peace were at risk, President Bush made the fol­lowing complaint:
I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill work­ing the other side of the question. We've got one lonely little guy doing it.88
When Congress realized that the "lonely little guy" was their presi­dent, and that he was serious about delaying the loan guarantees, they quickly approved his request. American Jews were indignant, labeling Bush an anti-Semite for his criticisms of lobby pressure and accusing him of denying them the right to practice citizen advocacy. Bush quickly apologized, but to many it was a case of too little, too late. According to one author, "The showdown led to a strain in United States-Israel rela­tions, and some Republicans say Bush lost Jewish votes." Of course, this overlooks an important factor of the episode: during the showdown, polls showed that more than 80 percent of the American public sup­ported Bush, a tide of support members of Congress could not ignore.85
While his stance in 1991 may have cost Bush Jewish votes, he lost the votes of those critical of Israel the next summer when, despite con­tinued construction of the controversial settlements, the U.S. president finally caved to pressure and approved the loan guarantees. Bush also
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exhibited strong—and strongly biased—support for Israel in October of
1991 when, after U.S. intelligence determined that Israel had exported missile components to South Africa, the president waived U.S.-mandated sanctions against Israel.
Nevertheless, this support was not enough to erase the memory of the Bush-Israel showdown from the minds of Israel's American sup­porters. While campaigning for the presidency in 2000 against Bush's son, Democratic candidate Al Gore mentioned the incident—and Bush's
1992 loss at the polls—in a speech to AIPAC:
I vividly remember standing up against a group of administration foreign policy advisers who promoted the insulting concept of linkage. . . . We defeated them.90
It was a lesson well learned by American politicians, as no U.S. pres­ident since has openly threatened to withhold funds to ensure Israeli compliance with international law. Indeed, according to USA Today, cur­rent President George W. Bush "says he believes his father, the first Pres­ident Bush, made a political mistake that helped cost him re-election when he threatened to withhold some U.S. aid" from Israel.91
Penetrating the Defenses at Defense and State
The Pentagon—-that enormous, sprawling building on the banks of the Potomac—houses most of the Department of Defense's central head­quarters. It is the top command for the forces and measures that provide Americans with security in a troubled wotld. Across the Potomac is the Department of State, a massive eight-story building on Washington's Foggy Bottom, the nerve center of our nation's worldwide diplomatic network. These buildings are channels through which flow thousands of messages dealing with the nation's top secrets each day. No one can enter either building without special identification or advance clearance. Armed guards seem to be everywhere, and in late 1983 conctete embankments and strategically placed heavy trucks were added to pro­vide extra buffers should a fanatic launch an attack. These buildings are fortresses, where the nation's most precious secrets are carefully guarded by the most advanced technology.
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But how secure are the secrets?
The leaks to Israel are fantastic.1 If I have something I want the secretary of state to know but don't want Israel to know, I must wait till I have a chance to see him personally.
This declaration came from an ambassador, still on active duty in a top assignment, while he reviewed his long career in numerous posts in the Middle East. Although hardly a household name in the United States, his is one of Americas best-known abroad. Interviewed in the State Department, he spoke deliberately, choosing his words carefully: "It is a fact of life that everyone in authority is reluctant to put anything on paper that concerns Istael if it is to be withheld from Israel's knowledge," said the veteran. "Nor do such people even feel free to speak in a crowded room of such things."
The diplomat offered an example from his own experience. "I received a call from a friend of mine in the Jewish community who wanted to warn me, as a friend, that all details of a lengthy document on Middle East pol­icy that I had just dispatched overseas were 'out.'" The document was clas­sified "top secret," the diplomat recalled. "I didn't believe what he said, so my friend read me every word of it over the phone."
His comments will upset pro-Israel activists, many of whom contend that both the State Department and Defense Department are dominated by anti-Israeli "Arabists." Such domination, if it ever existed, occurs no longer. In the view of my diplomat source, leaks to pro-Israel activists are not only pervasive thtoughout the two departments, but "are intimidat­ing and very harmful to our national interest." He said that, because of "the ever-present Xerox machine," diplomats proceed on the assumption that even messages they send by the most secuie means will be copied and passed on to eager hands. "We just don't dare put sensitive items on paper." A factor making the pervasive insecurity even greater is the knowledge that leaks of secrets to Israel, even when noriced—which is rare—are almost nevet investigated.
Whatever intelligence the Israelis want, whether political or techni­cal, they obtain promptly and without cost at the source. Officials who normally would work vigilantly to protect our national interest by iden­tifying leaks and bringing charges against the offenders are demoralized.
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In fact, they are disinclined even to question Israel's tactics for fear this activity will cause the Israeli lobby to mark them as troublemakers and take measures to nullify their efforts, or even harm their careers.
The lobby's intelligence network, having numerous volunteer "friend-lies" to tap, reaches all parts of the executive branch where matters con­cerning Israel are handled. Awareness of this seepage keeps officials—no matter what rung of the ladder they occupy—from making or even pro­posing decisions that are in the United States' interest.
If, for example, an official should state opposition to an Israeli request during a private interdepartmental meeting—or worse still, put it in an intra-office memorandum—he or she must assume that this information will soon reach the Israeli embassy, either directly or through AIPAC. Soon after, the official should expect to be criticized by name when the Israeli ambassador visits the secretary of state or another promi-nenr U.S. official.
The penetration is all the more remarkable because much of it is carried out by U.S. citizens on behalf of a foreign government. The prac­tical effect is to give Israel its own network of sources, through which it is able to learn almost anything it wishes about decisions or resources of the U.S. government. When making procurement demands, Israel can display better knowledge of Defense Departmenr inventories than the Pentagon itself.
Israel Finds the Ammunition—in Hawaii!
In its 1973 Yom Kippur war against Egypt and Syria, Israel sustained heavy losses in weapons of all kinds, especially tanks. It looked to the United States for the quickest possible resupply. Henry Kissinger was their avenue. Richard Nixon was entangled in the Watergate controversy and would soon leave the presidency, but under his authority the gov­ernment agreed to deliver substantial quantities of tanks to Israel.
Tanks were to be taken from the inventory of U.S. military units on active duty, reserve units, even straight off production lines. Nothing was held back in the effort to bring Israel's forces back to its desired strength as quickly as possible.
Israel wanted only the latest-model tanks, which were equipped with 105-millimeter guns. But a sufficient number could not be found even
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by stripping U.S. forces. The Pentagon met the problem by filling part of the order with an earlier model fitted with 90-millimeter guns. When these arrived, the Israelis grumbled about having to take "second-hand junk." Then they discovered they had no ammunition of the right size and sent an urgent appeal for a supply of 90-millimeter rounds.
The Pentagon made a search and found none. Thomas Pianka, an officer then serving at the Pentagon with the International Security Agency, recalled: "We made an honest effort to find the ammunition. We checked everywhere. We checked through all the services—Army, Navy, Marines. We couldn't find any 90-millimeter ammunition at all."2 Pianka said the Pentagon sent Israel the bad news: "In so many words, we said, 'Sorry, we don't have any of the ammunition you need. We've combed all depots and warehouses, and we simply have none.'"
A few days later the Israelis came back with a surprising message: "Yes, you do. There are 15,000 rounds in the Marine Corps supply depot in Hawaii." Pianka recalled, "We looked in Hawaii and, sure enough, there they were. The Israelis had found a U.S. supply of 90-millimeter ammunition we couldn't find ourselves."
Richard Helms, director of the CIA during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, recalled an occasion when an Israeli arms request had been filled with the wrong items.3 Israeli officials resubmitted the request complete with all the supposedly top-secret code numbers and a note to Helms that said the Pentagon perhaps had not understood exactly which items were needed. "It was a way for them to show me that they knew exactly what they wanted," Helms said. Helms believed that during this period no important secret was kept from Israel.
Not only are the Israelis adept at getting the information they want—they are masters at the weapons procurement game. Les Janka, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense who is a specialist in Mid­dle East policy, recalled Israeli persistence:
They would never take no for an answer. They never gave up. These emis­saries of a foreign government always had a shopping list of wanted mili­tary items, some of them high technology that no other nation possessed, some of it secret devices that gave the United States an edge over any adver­sary. Such items were not for sale, not even to the nations with whom we have our closest, most formal military alliance—like those linked to us through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.4
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Yet Janka learned that military sales to Israel were not bound by the guidelines and limitations that govern U.S. arms supply policy elsewhere. "Sales to Israel were different," he said. "Very different."
Janka has vivid memories of a military liaison officer from the Israeli embassy who called at the Defense Department and requested approval to purchase a military item that, because of its highly secret advanced technology, was on the prohibited list: "He came to me, and I gave him the official Pentagon reply. I said, Tm sorry, sir, but the answer is no. We will not release that technology.'"
The Israeli officer took pains to observe bureaucratic courtesies and not antagonize lower officials who might devise ways to block the sale. He said, "Thank you very much, if that's your official position. We understand that you are not in a position to do what we want done. Please don't feel bad, but we're going over your head." And that of course meant he was going to Janka's superiors in the office of the secretary of defense, or perhaps even to the White House.
Asked if he could remember an instance in which Israel failed to get what it wanted from the Pentagon, Janka paused to reflect, then answered, "No, not in the long run."
Janka had high respect for the efficiency of Israeli procurement officers:
You have to understand that the Israelis operate in the Pentagon very pro­fessionally, and in an omnipresent way. They have enough of their people who understand our system well, and they have made friends at all levels, from top to bottom. They just interact with the system in a constant, con­tinuous way that keeps the pressure on.
The Carter White House tried to establish a policy of restraint. In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's assistant for national security, Brzezinski remembered Defense Secretary Harold Brown's efforts to hold the line on technology transfer.5 "He was very tough with Israel on its requests for weapons and weapons systems. He often turned them down." But Brown's was not the final word. For example, Brzezinski cited as the most notable example Brown's refusal to sell Israel the controversial anti­personnel weapon known as the cluster bomb. Despite written agreements restricting the use of these bombs, Israel had used them twice against pop­ulated areas in Lebanon, causing death and injury to civilians. Brown responded by refusing to sell Israel replacements. But even on that request,
5 They Dare to Speak Out
Despite that somber revelation, no official effort was launched to discover who had revealed the sensitive information.
Israel eventually prevailed. President Reagan reversed the administration policy, and cluster bombs were returned to the approved list.
Others who have occupied high positions in the executive branch were willing to speak candidly, but, unlike Janka, they did so with the understanding that their names would not be published. As one explained, "My career is not over. At least, I don't want it to be. Quot­ing me by name would bring it to an end." With the promise of anonymity, he and others gave details of the astounding process through which the Israeli lobby is able to penetrate the defenses at the Defense Department—and elsewhere.
Sometimes the act is simple theft. One official says, "Israelis were caught in the Pentagon with unauthorized documents, sometimes scoop­ing up the contents of 'in boxes' on desk tops." He recalls that, because of such activity, a number of Israeli officials were told to leave the coun­try. No formal charges have ever been filed against an Israeli official involved in such activities, and Israel has covered each such exit with an excuse such as family illness or some other personal reason: "Our gov­ernment never made a public issue of it." He added, "There is a much higher level of espionage by Israel against our government than has ever been publicly admitted."
The official recalled one day when he received a list of military equipment that Israel wanted to purchase. Noting that "the Pentagon is Israel's 'stop and shop,'" he took it for granted that the Israelis had obtained clearances. So he followed usual procedure by circulating it to various Pentagon offices for routine review and evaluation:
One office instantly returned the list to me with a note: 'One of these items is so highly classified you have no right to know that it even exists.' I was instructed to destroy all copies of the request and all references to the par­ticular code numbers. I didn't know what it was. It was some kind of elec­tronic jamming equipment, top secret. Somehow the Israelis knew about it and acquired its precise specifications, cost, and top secret code number. This meant they had penetrated our research and development labs, our most sensitive facilities.
Penetrating the Defenses at Defense and State 5
"They Always Get What They Want"
Israel s agents are close students of the U.S. system, and they work it to their advantage. Besides obtaining secret information by clandestine operations, they thoroughly and effectively apply open pressure on exec­utive branch offices. A weapons expert explains their technique:
If promised an answer on a weapons request in thirty days, they show up on the thirty-first day and announce: "We made this request. It hasn't been approved. Why not? We've waited thirty days." With most foreign govern­ments, you can finesse a problem. You can leave it in the box on the desk. With Israel, you can't leave anything in the box.
He said the Israeli embassy knows exactly when things are scheduled for action:
It stays on top of things as does no other embassy in town. They know your agenda, what was on your schedule yesterday, and what's on it today and tomorrow. They know what you have been doing and saying. They know the law and regulations backward and forward. They know when the deadlines are.
He admired the resourcefulness of the Israelis in applying pressure:
They may leak to Israeli newspapers details of their difficulty in getting an approval. A reporter will come in to State or Defense and ask a series of questions so detailed they could be motivated only by Israeli officials. Some­times the pressure will come, not from reporters, but from AIPAC. If things are really hung up, it isn't long before letters or calls start coming from Capitol Hill. They'll ask, "Why is the Pentagon not approving this item?" Usually, the letter is from the congressman in whose district the item is manufactured. He will argue that the requested item is essential to Israel's security. He probably will also ask, "Who is this bad guy in the Pentagon— or State—who is blocking this approval? I want his name. Congress would like to know."
The American defense expert paused to emphasize his point: "No bureaucrat, no military officer likes to be singled out by anybody from Congress and required to explain his professional duty."
5 They Dare to Speak Out
He recalled an episode involving President Carter's secretary of defense, Harold Brown:
I remember once Israel requested an item on the prohibited list. Before I answered, I checked with Secretary Brown and he said, "No, absolutely no. We're not going to give in to the bastards on this one." So I said no. Lo and behold, a few days later I got a call from Brown. He said, "The Israelis are raising hell. I got a call from [Senator Henry] 'Scoop' Jackson, asking why we aren't cooperating with Israel. It isn't worth it. Let it go."
When Jimmy Carter became president, the Israelis were trying to get large quantities of the AIM 9-L, the most advanced U.S. air-to-air mis­sile at the time. A former Pentagon official said his colleagues objected. One of them said, "No, no, no. It isn't yet deployed to U.S. troops. The production rate is not enough to supply even U.S. needs. It is much too sensitive to risk being lost." Yet, early in his administration, Carter over­ruled the Pentagon, and Israel got the missiles.
A former administration official recalled a remarkable example of Israeli ingenuity:
Israel requested an item of technology, a machine for producing bullets. It was a big piece of machinery, weighed a lot, and it was exclusive. We didn't want other countries to have it, not even Israel. We knew if we said no, the Israelis would go over our heads and somehow get approval. So, we kept say­ing we were studying the request. Then, to our astonishment, we discovered that the Israelis had already bought the machinery and had it in a warehouse in New York.
The Israelis did not have a license to ship the equipment, but they had nonetheless been able to make the purchase. When they were con­fronted by the Defense official, they said, "We slipped up. We were sure you'd say yes, so we went ahead and bought it. And if you say no, here's the bill for storage, and here's what it will cost to ship it back to the fac­tory." Soon after, the official recalled, someone in the State Department called and said, "Aw, give it to them," adding an earthy expletive.
This sense of futility sometimes reaches all the way to the top. Unre­stricted supplies to Israel were especially debilitating in the 1974-77 period, when U.S. military services were trying to recover from the 1973
Penetrating the Defenses at Defense and State 15 5
Arab-Israeli war. In that conflict, the United States had stripped its own army and air forces in order to supply Israel.
During this period of U.S. shortage, Israel kept bringing in its shopping lists. The official recalls that the Pentagon would insist, "No, we cant pro­vide what you want now. Come back in a year or so." In almost every one of those cases, he said, the Pentagon position was overruled by a political decision out of the White House. This demoralized the professionals in the Pentagon. Still worse, it handicapped national security: "Defense Depart­ment decisions made according to the highest professional standards went by the board in order to satisfy Israeli requests," said the official.
"Exchanges" That Work Only in One Direction

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