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June 06, 2003 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-06

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Americans Fuel Terrorism

he irony could not be any
deeper. Every year,
American Jews send money
overseas to support Israel.
But every day, American Jews also
send their hard-earned money overseas
to regimes that fund, shelter or other-
wise support the terrorist groups that
are sworn to Israel's destruction. We
enrich anti-Israel forces by the simple
act of filling our gas tanks.
This irony isn't confined to the
Jewish community. Americans spend
billions of dollars a year on oil from
countries that support terrorists, then
spend billions more on military
actions and homeland security to pro-
tect against terrorism.
And this goes on against the backdrop
of a just-concluded war in which scores
of American soldiers lost their lives — a
war made necessary, and more difficult,
because Iraq's oil wealth enabled Saddam
Hussein to fiind his armed forces and
covert weapons programs.
This state of affairs is in large part the
result of America's shortsighted energy
policy. Instead of reducing our depend-
ence on fossil fuel, current U.S. energy
policy encourages ever-greater consump-
tion of non-renewable fuels such as oil.
Fuel economy standards for passen-
ger vehicles have not been increased for
over 20 years, are riddled with loop-
holes, and don't hold SUVs and pickup
trucks (which are used overwhelmingly

Michael Sklar of Huntington Woods is
chair of the Michigan Coalition on the
Environment and Jewish Life.

for personal transportation) to the
same standard as passenger cars.
To make matters worse, the IRS
encourages increased gasoline use by
giving huge tax breaks to buyers of the
biggest, most gas-guzzling vehicles. As
a result, America uses more and more
oil every year.
We cannot drill our way out of this
dilemma. America consumes over 25
percent of the world's oil but holds
only 3 percent of the world's oil
reserves. It also costs five times as
much to pump a barrel of oil here
than it does in Iran or Saudi Arabia —
and even more to produce oil from
deep offshore wells or northern Alaska.
It's no wonder that 60 percent of the
oil we use comes from overseas — and
that percentage is expected to increase
in the years ahead.
As Congress begins debate on a new
energy bill, it's important for Jews to
insist on a better way than the failed
policies of the past.
For starters, we can demand that our
elected representatives set standards
that increase energy efficiency. We can
phase in significantly higher fuel econ-
omy standards for the vehicles we drive
— standards that can be met with cur-
rent technology without compromising
vehicle safety or performance.
We can insist on higher energy effi-
ciency standards for refrigerators, air
conditioners and other appliances. We
can require that new buildings be bet-
ter insulated. These changes will save
consumers money, and they'll save
American jobs by positioning our

industries to compete across
causes global warming.
the globe.
Next week, we have a
We can also invest in the
unique opportunity to learn
increasingly cost-competitive
more about the implications
21st century clean energy
of America's energy choices for
sources such as wind and solar,
the security of Israel, of
rather than subsidizing 19th
America and of the natural
century industries like oil and
systems on which all life
coal with billions of dollars in
M IC HAEL depends. At Temple Beth El,
tax breaks and pollution rights.
former White House Chief of
We can require electricity
Staff John Podesta will deliver
Comm unity
providers to phase in an ever-
a bold new vision for our
Vi ews
increasing proportion of clean
energy future in a presentation
energy into their generating mix.
called "If Not Now, When? Energy,
And we can change our own behav-
the Environment, and Ethics in the
ior. By choosing to buy and drive
21st Century."
more fuel-efficient vehicles, and drive
If Jews will not act for our own ben-
them fewer miles, we can send less of
efit, who will? If today's Jews think
our money overseas to those who
only of themselves and do what is easy
threaten American and Israeli interests. and convenient in the short term
But that's not all.
without regard for the well-being of
A smarter, saner energy policy
God's creation, the state of Israel, and
would create jobs here at home in the
future generations, who are we? ❑
clean energy industries of the future,
bolster our economy by reducing our
trade deficit and safeguard the envi-
John Podesta speaks at Shabbat
ronment for our descendants by slow-
services, 7:30 p.m. Friday, June
ing global rises in temperature.
13. He is a senior fellow at the
A smarter, saner energy policy
Natural Resources Defense
would save taxpayers billions of dollars
Council. He'll deliver the 2003
in military costs. Even before the war
Milton M. Alexander Memorial
with Iraq, America was spending over
Lecture, sponsored by Temple
$60 billion every year to patrol oil
Beth El and the Michigan
lanes in the Persian Gulf — more than
Coalition' on the Environment
$1 per gallon of imported oil.
and Jewish Life. A Max M.
A smarter, saner energy policy
Fisher Jewish Community
would safeguard the environment for
Foundation grant also made the
our children and their children and
lecture possible. For information,
generations yet to come by reducing
call M-COEJL, (248) 642-5393.
the carbon dioxide pollution that

deeply involved in the airlift rescue,
indicated the decision was influenced by
David Wyman's book The Abandonment
of the Jews, which documents America's
failure to rescue Jews from the .
Yet that same year, President Reagan
visited the Bitburg military cemetery in
Germany, where a number of Hitler's
SS men are buried. Reagan suggested
the SS men were just as much victims
of the Nazis as the Jews murdered in the
Holocaust. American-German relations
were deemed politically more important
than offending Holocaust survivors.
In 1988, George Bush, then the
Republican presidential nominee, dis-
missed a leader of one of his campaign
support committees, Jerome Brentar,
after it was discovered that Brentar had
been active in a Holocaust-denial organ-
Yet neither at that time nor later did
Bush publicly criticize Pat Buchanan,

despite Buchanan's articles praising
Hitler's "great courage," claiming the gas
chambers at Treblinka could not have
been used to kill large numbers of peo-
ple, and defending suspected Nazi war
criminals. Alienating Buchanan and his
supporters was deemed politically more
risky than offending Holocaust sur-
The Carter administration, for its
part, initiated the process that eventual -
ly led to the establishment of the
United States HoloCaust Memorial
Museum, in Washington.
Yet, despite the objections of Elie
Wiesel and many others, President
Carter tried to redefine the Holocaust,
insisting that the Museum focus on the
deaths of "11 million" people, the 6
million Jews annihilated by the
Germans and the millions of civilians
(mostly East Europeans) who died dur-
ing the war. Alienating voters of Polish-
Americans or Ukrainian-Americans was

considered politically less desirable than
offending the far less numerous
Holocaust survivors.


Disturbing Theme

It was the Clinton administration that
presided over the opening of the muse-
um in 1993, and President Clinton gave
a stirring speech in which he said:
"Before the war even started, doors to
liberty were shut, and even after the
United States and the Allies attacked
Germany, rail lines to the camps Within
miles of militarily-significant targets
were left undisturbed."
Yet the following year, the Clinton
administration sought to orchestrate a
visit to the museum by Yasser Arafat,
despite the strong objections of many
Holocaust survivors and others.
Advancing the administration's diplo-
matic agenda in the Middle East was
deemed more important than whatever

offense an Arafat visit would have
President Bush's praise of Mahmoud
Abbas is likewise intended to advance
Mideast diplomacy. That goal is regard-
ed by the administration as politically
more important than the concerns of
those who are offended by Holocaust-
denial or troubled by the prospect of an
unrepentant Holocaust-denier serving as
the leader of a sovereign state.
George W. Bush is not the first
American president to honor the mem-
ory of the Holocaust victims and then
later say or do something troubling with
regard to the Holocaust. Such contra-
dictions may be found in every admin-
istration in recent memory. But no pres-
ident has ever done them in such close
proximity to one another.
To visit the most striking symbol of
the Holocaust on Saturday, and then
embrace a Holocaust-denier a few days
later — that is a first, ❑


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