A Choice Not an Echo on the Middle East in Wyoming's Lone Congressional District

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A Choice Not an Echo on the Middle East in Wyoming's Lone Congressional District

In most congressional elections, voters are tormented by the spectacle of both major party candidates tripping over each other in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the powerful (and generous) pro-Israel lobby. Each candidate pledges full support for the policies of the Israeli government, no matter how egregious. Neither candidate would dare to suggest a reduction in the astronomical level of financial aid given by the United States to Israel.

This year's congressional election in Wyoming, however, offers a refreshing change -- a real choice between a typical "Israel-firster" member of Congress and a challenger who has a long history of supporting a just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Scott Farris, who won the Democratic Party nomination for Wyoming's lone congressional seat, is a former journalist who has spoken out against the inequitable policies of the United States in the Middle East.

As a political columnist for Wyoming's largest and only statewide newspaper, the Casper Star-Tribune, Farris wrote several columns questioning the level of aid given to Israel, particularly the unique policy that allows American citizens to deduct donations to Israeli charities from their income tax. That column generated from former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley an appreciative note.

Farris, 41, has also contributed articles to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, including a 1989 profile of former Wyoming Rep. Richard Cheney and his views of the Middle East when Cheney was named Secretary of Defense by President George Bush. Farris has also reviewed books on the Middle East for such publications as The Bloomsbury Review.

Farris' knowledge of Middle East affairs, expressed during a foreign policy seminar at the University of Wyoming, so impressed the guest seminar leader, former Undersecretary of State David Newsom, that Farris was invited to participate in the 1989 Georgetown University International Leadership Seminar while Newsom was a professor there at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Farris' opponent, on the other hand, two-term incumbent Rep. Barbara Cubin, has taken the usual line of unflinching support for even the hardest line of Israeli policies -- policies a significant number of Israeli citizens often oppose, but never the United States Congress.

"There can be no peace without recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians."

Mrs. Cubin, a Republican identified with the most conservative wing of her party, has taken the usual all-expenses-paid junkets to Israel, courtesy of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has been unwavering in the support of every conceivable form of aid to Israel, and has been a routine signatory on letters to U.S. foreign policy officials demanding that no U.S. policy ever run counter to the desires of Israeli hard-liners.

Farris, an aide to former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan, said that while foreign policy has not been a major theme of his campaign this year, there is no doubt that Middle East politics plays a role even in the American West. …