United Nations Report: Jesse Helms Personified the Confluence of Mideast, Domestic American Politics

By Williams, Ian | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 31, 2001 | Go to article overview

United Nations Report: Jesse Helms Personified the Confluence of Mideast, Domestic American Politics


Williams, Ian, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


UNITED NATIONS REPORT: Jesse Helms Personified the Confluence of Mideast, Domestic American Politics

Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations.

August saw yet another debate on the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As usual, however, it was full of sound and fury but signified nothing, except to show how isolated the U.S. position in support of Israel is. While paying lip service to the Mitchell report, Israel balked at the question of observers and the cessation of settlement activities recommended in it. Since when Israel balks, Washington vetoes, the resolution, after days of open debate, was not put to the vote.

Not only is the Middle East standoff tragic for the participants, it also poisons the whole system of global diplomacy, hindering efforts to establish a more secure world. At times it seems there is hardly a diplomatic conference or issue immune from its baneful influence.

The August announcement by veteran North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms that he was not going to run again is good news for the United Nations and bad news for the Israel lobby. It also illustrates dramatically how the Middle East issue intrudes upon the most insular and parochial backwaters of politics--like the tobacco fields of Carolina.

Helms was never a friend of the Palestinians or the Arabs--or, come to think of it, of many other foreign peoples. In fact, there were many Americans he never expressed much liking for either, ranging from African Americans to gays and liberals. Not many people suspected him, therefore, of harboring warm sentiments for Jews.

At least Helms was consistent, however: he opposed pretty much all foreign aid bills. Inevitably, this ran him up against the Israel lobby--which, of course, is not desperately concerned about foreign aid in general, but sees it as a useful camouflage for its subventions to Israel.

In 1990, the lobby saw its chance--and took it. That year Helms was almost defeated by Harvey Gant, a liberal African-American who drew a lot of liberal money for his campaign, much of it Jewish. After a few words, the senator changed his otherwise obdurate and obstinate stand and became the lobby's most fervent attack dog in the Senate.

One thing Helms always shared with the lobby, however, was a deep suspicion of the United Nations and all international organizations, which he saw as a threat to American sovereignty and the lobby saw, equally, as a threat to Israel's right to defy international law and resolutions with impunity. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Helms used his position to poison relations between the U.S. and the U.N.--effectively, thus, with the rest of the world. From 1990 onward, He proved properly grateful for the support of the lobby, which, with equal loyalty, supported Helms, even though his reactionary views on almost every domestic issue were anathema to most American Jews. In his 1990 and 1996 Senate elections he received $26,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Washington's refusal to honor its legal obligations as a U.N. member first surfaced around Middle Eastern issues, when Congress refused to authorize U.N. estimates of the cost of its Palestinian program. Beginning with that ominous precedent, Congress has expanded its bilking habits to include a much wider range of issues. While Helms' real aim was to destroy the U.N., or at least to withdraw American participation in it, he made "reform" a condition of paying U.S. dues, and found that lots of people who should have known better were prepared to go along.

So while the U.N. still exists, and the U.S. is still a member, Senator Helms and his friends in many respects have had their way. Starved of funds, the U.N. cannot take initiatives, and both it and its member states often tend to defer pre-emptively to what they think Washington's wishes will be. In some ways even America's friends treat it carefully, like an eccentrically acerbic neighbor who may fly off the handle at any random incident.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

United Nations Report: Jesse Helms Personified the Confluence of Mideast, Domestic American Politics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.