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October 19, 1990 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-19

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Saudi guardsmen simulate an attack at a training center in Saudi Arabia.

any of the key players."
Equally clear, at least
from the Israeli and Ameri-
can Jewish perspectives,
were the importance of two
other factors. The first is
Jerusalem's central place in
Jewish thinking.
"Jerusalem is always a
highly emotional issue for
the Jewish community,"
said Jess Hordes, Washing-
ton director for the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith, one of the groups that
reacted with strong lang-
uage to the Palestinian rock
throwing at the Wall. "The
fact that this was Jerusalem,
that it involved Jews pray-
ing in the area, only
amplifies the sense that a
double standard is being ap-
plied to Israel."
The second is the percep-
tion that the Bush ad-
ministration is slowly edg-
ing away from its announced
goal of dislodging Iraq from
Kuwait, forcefully if
necessary, in favor of a
negotiated settlement that
would avert American
bloodshed, but leave Saddam
Hussein's military might in
place and poised to strike
Israel next.



"All of this is another
piece of a disturbing puzzle,"
said Rep. Charles Schumer
(D-NY). "While the ad-
ministration denies it,
they're clearly moving away
from support for Israel.
Their coalition against
Saddam Hussein has taken
on exaggerated importance.
This portends very badly for
"I think it's clear that the
administration thinks the
Persian Gulf is more impor-
tant now than Israel. I think
that's very shortsighted."
This week's harshly word-
ed letter from Secretary of
State James Baker III to
Israeli leaders underscored
the degree of animosity that
now separates Israel from its
long-time guardian angel.
Mr. Baker wrote that "if
Israel rejects the Security
Council decision, there will
be some who will compare
you, even though it is not
justified, to Saddam Hussein
and his rejection of Security
Council decisions."
Mr. Baker's letter
dismayed pro-Israel ac-
tivists; the fact that the
letter was leaked in Israel
angered administration offi-

cials in Washington.
"We've been going back
and forth in the past few
weeks, trying to discern
whether the administration
is, in fact, talking linkage,"
said the Washington repre-
sentative for a major Jewish
organization, requesting
anonymity. "This Baker
letter ... was an outrageous
confirmation of our worst
fears about linkage."
The UN's past history as a
forum for anti-Israel sen-
timents also did little to al-
leviate the fears of Israel's
"The reluctance of the
Israeli government to coop-
erate with the United
Nations representatives is
surely understandable,
given the UN's record of one-
sided pronouncements on
virtually all questions per-
taining to the Arab-Israeli
conflict," the American Jew-
ish Congress said in one of
the week's less emotionally
charged statements.
"The (UN) resolution is a
continuation of classic anti-
Semitism which negates the
value of Jewish life," added
Rabbi Marc D. Angel, presi-
dent of the Rabbinical Coun-

cil of America, whose more
heated remarks reflected the
private seething others were
more careful to conceal.
. America is par-
ticipating in the classic anti-
Israel venom of the United
Nations," said Rabbi Angel,
whose organization joined
with other Orthodox groups
in proclaiming Saturday
(Oct. 20) a "Sabbath of Pro-
For Washington, Israel's
reluctance to cooperate with
the UN mission was the last
straw for foreign policy offi-
cials who increasingly view
Israel as an irritating com-
plication in their high-
stakes showdown with
Saddam Hussein.
American officials pri-
vately suggest that they re-
sent Israel's failure to
understand that U.S. par-
ticipation in the UN state-
ment was designed to bal-
ance two interests — holding
together the fragile alliance
of Arab nations confronting
Iraq, and protecting Israel
from even harsher language
proposed by the Palestine
Liberation Organization.
This anger was abundant-
ly evident in Mr. Baker's

letter, which forcefully urg-
ed the Israelis to accept the
UN envoy.

The bottom line so far is
that American Jewish ac-
tivists increasingly find
themselves at odds with the
White House's evolving
sense of this country's vital
interests in the Middle East.

Taking the long view,
that's one of the most
frightening elements of the
current crisis. Despite years
of arguing that American
and Israeli interests in the
Middle East were compati-
ble, the most serious test to
date of that assumption is
pointing in a different direc-
tion, at least in the view of
many in the administration.
And the fact that the ad-
ministration appears willing,
to sacrifice more of Israel's?
international credibility in
return for a little more bal-
ing wire to hold together the
fragile coalition currently
arrayed against Iraq is a
clear signal to the world that
the U.S.-Israeli relationship
has fallen considerably
on Washington's list of
priorities. ❑

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