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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 1999, pages 60-62

People Watch

Senator Simon Recalls AIPAC Request That He Run Against Charles Percy

By Lucille Barnes

Former Illinois Democratic Sen. Paul Simon reveals in his newly published autobiography how he came to run against former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Percy in 1984. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s principal Washington, DC lobby, has long considered Percy’s defeat by Simon a high water-mark of its influence on Congress. Simon, who was in the House of Representatives at the time, said that first “two longtime friends, Bob Schrayer and Stan Weinberger,” begged him to run (read pledged financial support) against Percy, who not only had voted to permit Boeing to sell Saudi Arabia AWACS aircraft (which later served the U.S. and Saudi-led coalition so well in the Gulf war), but also had suggested that not only were there Palestinians, but also that they had “rights.” Then, Simon wrote, he received a call from “a nationally respected Jewish leader from Chicago, Bob Asher” (an AIPAC board member). Given the change in U.S. public opinion in the subsequent 15 years, perhaps the next campaign to unseat a Senate Foreign Relations chairman will be by North Carolinians trying to oust Sen. Jesse Helms, who thinks he can keep his seat by giving unstintingly to Binyamin Netanyahu’s Israel, despite its blatant defiance of the U.S.-backed Middle East peace process.

The nomination as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. of former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Europe Richard Holbrooke, who strong-armed into existence the successful Dayton agreement to settle the Bosnian civil war, still has not been submitted to the U.S. Senate. A problem surfaced with an anonymous charge that after he left the State Department the persuasive/abrasive Holbrooke had violated U.S. lobbying rules by not waiting the required year before using his government contacts to set up meetings in Hungary on behalf of his new employer, Credit Suisse First Boston bank. Justice Department investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing there, but instead ran across charges of a similar violation on behalf of Credit Suisse in Korea. What’s important about the delay is not Holbrooke’s possible job at the U.N., from which Madeleine Albright secretary of state in the administration of President Bill Clinton, but the fact that while holding the job Holbrooke will be well positioned to succeed Albright if she should step down before the end of the Clinton administration, or if and when Vice President Al Gore succeeds Clinton. In Holbrooke’s case there should be no belated ethnic revelations as was the case with Albright. Holbrooke’s father, a Scarsdale physician, was Jewish. His mother was not.

The Palestinian cabinet has accused American multimillionaire and financier of Israeli extremism Irving Moskowitz of “waging a campaign of colonization and gross provocation which represents a direct challenge to the Palestinian people.” Moskowitz got his financial start buying and selling hospitals and then bought up the city council of a whole town, Hawaiian Gardens, on the wrong side of the tracks in Los Angeles County. There he has built a bingo parlor and sleaze empire to help finance the Jewish nationalist Ateret Cohanim movement, which seeks to Judaize Arab East Jerusalem. Moskowitz financed the final phase of a tunnel dug along the foundations of the Haram al Sharif, Islam’s third holiest site in the world, and was present when Israeli troops opened it to connect the Jewish and Arab quarters of the Old City, setting off Israeli-Palestinian rioting and gunfights in which more than 60 persons were killed. In early January he visited Israel to line up election campaign financing for right-wing extremist candidates.

New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind from Brooklyn, traveling with Moskowitz, said he had no doubt that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was the right man to support.

In Hebron, the Moskowitz group was greeted with music and dance by Jewish settlers. “These are people who love us and help us, they are real lovers of Israel,” said Baruch Marzel. “They can’t sleep at night if they don’t give money to Hebron.”

Israeli Knesset member Yossi Sarid, who leads the dovish Meretz party, said, “The Moskowitz phenomenon is both frightening and disgusting. The very thought that a man who makes his money from betting parlors is also gambling with our fate fills me with apprehension.”

Accompanying Moskowitz on his January trip to Israel and the occupied territories was out-of-control Congressman Michael Forbes (R-NY), whom the American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP) now calls a “rogue congressman.” AP reported that both Moskowitz and Forbes were heckled by Israeli peace activists as they toured the Ras al-Amoud area of East Jerusalem, where Moskowitz hopes to finance a new Jewish settlement this spring. Said ATFP Executive Director Michael Sanford, “Rather than going to Israel to urge them to abide by their signed commitments, Congressman Forbes has gone to support their violations of them...To call for ”˜coexistence’ by encouraging the building of Jewish-only settlements in illegally occupied territory on land that was confiscated from Palestinians is not only ironic, it’s just plain bizarre.”

David Tenenbaum, an Orthodox Jewish engineer at the U.S. Army’s plant in Southfield, MI, was investigated for 10 months by the FBI starting in 1997 on suspicion that he had released classified information on armor systems, Patriot missile countermeasures, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees to Israel. The government dropped the investigation last July, but now Tenenbaum has filed a lawsuit seeking $120 million in damages from the Justice Department and several officials. His lawyer, Martin Crandall, said Tenenbaum’s Jewish faith might have made him a target in what the lawyer called “an ethnic-oriented persecution.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who once advised the Israeli government to close the West Bank to the media and suppress the Palestinian intifada “as quickly as possible—overwhelmingly, brutally and rapidly” and suggested early in the Iraq-Iran war that the U.S. should do nothing to halt it, just gets more embarassingly like the Nazis from whom his parents once fled. At a New York fund-raising dinner organized by Ben-Gurion University in late November after the Wye agreement had been signed by Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Clinton’s presence at the White House just in time for U.S. elections, Kissinger advised Israel not to hand over any more territory to the Palestinians pending conclusion of a permanent status agreement. The problem, of course, is that by following the advice, which he did, Netanyahu reneged on the agreement which he had just signed, and also further postponed the beginning of final status talks by calling new Israeli elections.

If you listen very carefully, you learn that not all members of the U.S. Congress want to bomb Iraq back into the stone age. In a Nov. 16 release African-American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) complained that “up to now our policy toward Iraq has been one of all stick and no carrot.” She noted that “the U.S. has never engaged Iraq in discussions to draft terms for the lessening of sanctions,” or “a time-table or clear commitment on the mechanism or conditions for lifting sanctions. The Iraqis have therefore never been given any incentive to cooperate with U.S. or U.N. demands.” She noted also that in the United Nations some “now call sanctions against Iraq a weapon of mass destruction.”

U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Celeste set off a political storm on the subcontinent by calling upon New Delhi to disclose publicly its requirements for a minimum nuclear deterrent. In an interview with the press trust of India he asked, “How many missile systems and warheads does India need to have a minimum nuclear deterrent?” Responded Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes: “How we address our security concerns is our problem...If the U.S. thinks that it can express concern over other countries’ security requirements, then other nations should also have the right to express their concern over the United States.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) issued a statement mourning the death of Kwame Ture, formerly known as American civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, at his home in Conakry, Guinea, at the age of 57. Noting that he had been a freedom rider and chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the ADC said Ture had been “especially supportive of the cause of the human and national rights of the Palestinian people. In spite of his struggle against cancer...on Nov. 5, just 10 days before he died, Ture announced plans for a trip to protest U.S. travel restrictions and embargoes against Libya, Cuba, Sudan and Iraq,” the ADC said.

On Dec. 31 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called upon Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) to retract a statement published on the Internet claiming the Prophet Muhammad violated terms of a treaty when it was expedient to do so. CAIR president Nihad Awad demanded an apology to the American Muslim community saying, “It is disturbing that you, in your capacity as a United States congressman, would make such a deeply offensive and demonstrably false statement regarding the Prophet of Islam, the religion of six million Americans and more than one billion people worldwide. The Prophet Muhammad never broke any treaty.”

The incident recalled the retraction U.S. News and World Report, whose publisher, Mort Zuckerman, is a leading U.S. Zionist, had to print of a similar accusation. On June 24, 1996 the magazine’s editors wrote, “We deeply regret any ambiguity in the language...It was the Meccans, not the Prophet Muhammad, who broke the peace of Hudaybiah of 628.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval, in an article published Jan. 6 by the Washington Times, blamed the Palestinian Authority for the breakdown of the Wye agreement only days after it was signed at the White House. The following day State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said at his daily press briefing: “We do not share Ambassador Shoval’s assessment at all. The Palestinians have, in fact, worked hard to implement many of their commitments under the Wye agreement, including annulling clauses in the Palestinian National Council Charter and stepping up the fight against terror...It is the Israelis who have not fulfilled their...obligations to withdraw from a further 13 percent of the occupied West Bank.”

President Clinton has nominated Iranian-American businessman and donor to the Democratic Party Hassan Nemazee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina. He is chairman of the Nemazee Capital Corp. of New York, and members of his family have contributed $124,000 to the Democrats since 1994. Mr. Nemazee also has made occasional campaign contributions of $500 and $1,000 to two Senate Republicans particularly sympathetic to Israel. They are New York Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato, defeated last November, and North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, who, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, must approve Mr. Nemazee’s nomination. Nemazee also has given $5,000 to Vice President Al Gore’s political action committee.

Former U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday expressed his support Jan. 18 for French proposals to lift the eight and a half year embargo on Iraqi oil sales while maintaining tight arms controls. Halliday, 67, who resigned his Baghdad position last September to protest the continuing sanctions, told journalists during a visit to Paris, “There is no nice way to say this is a genocide...we have to stop this collective punishment of the Iraqi people.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Edward Walker ordered the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv closed Dec. 31 and reopened it Jan. 4 after receiving what embassy spokesman Larry Schwartz called a “credible and specific threat.” The State Department closed 40 U.S. embassies in Africa for several days in December.

Prof. William Rubenstein of the University of Wales charges in the February issue of Britain’s History Today magazine that Leopold Amery, the member of parliament who, during World War I, drafted for British Foreign Secretary Lord James Arthur Balfour the “Balfour Declaration” expressing British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” spent his life covering up his Jewish ancestry. Rubenstein describes Amery’s deception as “possibly the most remarkable example of concealment of identity in 20th century British political history.”

In his autobiography, published in 1955, Amery said only that his mother had fled Hungary after 1848 and that his father came from an old English family. In fact, Rubenstein said, Amery changed his middle name from Moritz to Maurice and did not mention that his mother, Elizabeth Johanna Saphir, was of Jewish descent. “Most men—especially those in public life—who are hiding their Jewish ancestry would take pains to distance themselves as far as possible from Jewish issues,” Rubenstein wrote. “Many might have become anti-Semites. But, most remarkably, Amery behaved in precisely the opposite way.”

An example of such behavior was Amery’s role, as assistant secretary to the war cabinet, in establishing the Jewish Legion, which was the forerunner of the modern Israel Defense Forces. A powerful Amery speech in parliament also is thought to have played a key role in precipitating the departure of Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain in 1940 and the accession to power of Winston Churchill, who led Britain throughout World War II.

Ironically, one of Amery’s sons, John, apparently did become an anti-Semite. He defected to Nazi Germany and was hanged for treason in London after World War II. Another son, Julian, was a Conservative member of Parliament who died in 1996.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin reiterated Russia’s strong objection to U.S. and British air attacks on Iraq in a 40-minute telephone conversation with President Clinton Dec. 30. National Security Council spokesman David C. Leavy said the two leaders also discussed Russia’s economic crisis and its parliament’s delay in ratifying the second strategic arms reduction treaty, called Start II.

Representatives of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party emerged from a Dec. 22 Palestinian Legislative Council meeting agreeing to disagree on whether he should re-declare a Palestinian state May 4, the day final status talks under the Oslo accords are to have ended. “It’s very difficult for Arafat to back down from this expectation of statehood now,” said Fatah secretary-general for the West Bank Marwan Barghouti. “It would be very damaging for his credibility.” Council member for Nablus Hussan Khader said, “I am afraid Hamas will again appear on the scene. This is very dangerous because if there are bombings, it will help those to the right of Netanyahu.” Moussa Zaabout, a council member affiliated with Hamas, said that the group had no need for bombings and added: “Hamas is not concerned with this...We know Israeli elections are just a way of postponing the peace process.”

Members of the Kuwaiti Journalists Union have denounced the visit of their colleague, Hamed Bu Yabes, to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. The denunciation said Kuwaiti journalists reject contact with Israel, with which Kuwait remains in a state of war.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto flew in late December to Dubai, where her three children are studying, after a court in Lahore overturned a Pakistani government order that had barred her from leaving the country because she faces corruption charges.

Israel has rejected a Polish request for the extradition of Solomon Morel, who commanded a camp for German prisoners of war under the Soviet occupation. The Polish request last April charged Morel with beating and torturing prisoners and creating inhuman conditions at the Swietochlowice camp, which he commanded from February to November 1945. Barbara Makosa-Stepkowska, a Polish Justice Ministry spokeswoman, said the Israeli decision ends the case in Poland, where the investigation begun in 1992 was the only one to date against a Polish Jew accused of crimes against Germans after their defeat.

Former Israeli Consul General in New York Colette Avital, who also has served as Israeli ambassador to Portugal, was recalled from a conference in Brussels in late November and suspended by Foreign Ministry Director General Eitan Ben-Tsur. Avital, a supporter of the Oslo peace process who frequently clashed with hard-line American supporters of the Likud Party in New York, is accused of giving a reporter for Ha’aretz, Israel’s largest daily, an internal Foreign Ministry document laying out policy options in the event that Palestinian President Arafat proclaims a Palestinian state next May. Many foreign office officials said the charges against her were a settling of scores by right-wing officials for her leftist views.

“We must ask ourselves why such a courageous and outstanding person has been accused of leaking a document to the press,” said Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli ambassador to Spain and Labor Party member of the Knesset. “I believe Avital...She is the best diplomat the foreign office has.”

Israeli police arrested airport security guard Yair Ben-Aboo Jan. 4 on charges he called for the assassination of Israeli Labor Party leader Ehud Barak while awaiting Barak’s arrival at Kiryat Shemona on a campaign tour.

In January, Cyprus put on trial two Israelis, Udi Hargov and Igal Damary, on charges they spied on Cypriot armed forces on behalf of Turkey. Israel has not said what their mission was, but they were intercepted while apparently planting or removing listening devices.

Exiled Saudi dissident billionaire Osama bin Laden told Time magazine he “instigated” the August bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The interview appeared to be the closest Bin Laden has come to admitting a role in the Kenya and Tanzania attacks.

The U.N. war crimes tribunal has cleared the way for Bosnian authorities to prosecute a former Muslim warlord on charges that he blocked food convoys for civilians and mistreated prisoners of war. Fikret Abdic fought against Muslim-led Bosnian-government forces in the civil war and, when the fighting ended in late 1995, fled with 27,000 of his supporters to Croatia where he later became a Croatian citizen. Under the 1995 Dayton agreement, Bosnian authorities may not make war crimes arrests unless they first submit evidence to the international tribunal in The Hague and get approval to proceed. Croatia’s constitution, however, bars extradition of its citizens for trial in another country except at the request of The Hague tribunal.

Lucille Barnes covers Washington, DC for U.S. and Middle East publications.