Pushing Israel
Jude Wanniski
November 20, 2001


Memo To: Sen. Christopher Bond [R MO]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Power Equivalence

I see you were partly successful in getting the White House to not allow Secretary of State Colin Powell to push Israel as hard as he was intending to do. He did give a good push, but the reports make it clear he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to drop demands that negotiations cannot start unless the Palestinians stop the use of force for eight consecutive days. This of course would prevent negotiations, as Yasir Arafat cannot control the crazies. We'll see what happens now, but I do believe you and your colleagues made a serious mistake in representing the interests of the Israeli Lobby in Washington at the expense of the almost non-existent Palestinian Lobby. Secretary Powell now has to attempt the delicate diplomatic game with his hands bound. My true opinion, Kit, is that the right-wing of the Likud Party has never wanted a peace with the Palestinians, going back to 1948, when the original founders of Israel expressed an interest in extending its boundaries as time went on. It is an extremist position that has been muffled over the decades, but it has resurfaced in these troubled times.

I've gotten many e-mails since I wrote my "Israel Needs a Push" yesterday. Some of it from Muslims I don't know, thanking me for expressing myself. Most of it, though, was in opposition, based on the concept being spread by the Warrior Wing of the GOP, that Israel is morally superior to the Palestinians and so are we, i.e. that because there is no "moral equivalence" between Arabs and Jews, we should always give Israel and its Lobby in Washington the benefit of the doubt. You seem to have joined the "no moral equivalence" crowd in getting 87 of your Senate colleagues to write the President and ask that he get Colin Powell off Sharon's back. Here is one of the letters I got yesterday, and my response:

Dear Sirs: I admire Mr. Wanniski, and I'm learning important lessons in economics from him. But, tell me, does he see Israel and the Palestinian cause as moral equivalents? He uses the phrase "the two-way terrorism in Israel and the political terrorism that has slopped over into the USA..." No doubt things are a mess, and very complex in Israel/Palestine. But to see Mr. Wanniski focusing his condemnation on Israel is distressing to me. Very distressing.

Burnie Thompson

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Dear Mr. Thompson:

I am not a moralist, but a political economist. I will leave it to others to decide if Israel is morally superior to the Palestinians or not. When it comes to POWER, though, Israel + United States is clearly superior to Palestine + Arabs. If there is to be an equivalence in the diplomatic realm, Uncle Sam will have to take his thumb off the scale. As long as Israel knows we back her no matter how crazy she gets in the use of force there will be no way for domestic political pressure inside Israel to begin a real search for peace. The right wing of the Likud Party now in control really does not wish to give up any land and probably prefers to think of expansion -- pushing the Palestinians off the West Bank entirely. Consider me an honorary member of the Rabin wing of the Labor Party, which was much more serious about peace.

Jude Wanniski

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Kit, I recommend you have your secretary get a subscription to the Forward, the most important Jewish weekly in America. It does seem to represent the Peace Wing of the Jewish Political Establishment. In an editorial in the current, November 16 issue, "What Israelis Want," it reports on a public opinion poll published a week ago in the Israeli daily newspaper Ma'ariv, which asked its readers "if they would like to see Israel renew peace negotiations, declare war on the Palestinian Authority or continue the status quo. A decisive majority, 53%, chose negotiations, while 26% chose war and 14% opted for the status quo....Many American Jewish activists have convinced themselves that Israel has no choice right now but to fight on, and that any proposals to the contrary are threats to Israel's safety. Most Israelis don't agree. It's something to think about."