Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment

Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment

Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment

Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment

Synopsis

J. J. Goldberg critically examines the people, institutions, money and ideas that constitute Jewish political influence in the United States.

Excerpt

Shortly after noon on Thursday, September 12, 1991, President George Bush stepped up to the podium in the White House briefing room and addressed a special press conference on the Middle East. It would prove to be one of the turning points of his presidency: the day he locked horns with the American Jewish community.

The president had called the reporters together to discuss a delicate diplomatic maneuver in the Middle East peace process, the fragile center‐ piece of his post—Cold War foreign policy. a week earlier, the government of Israel had asked Washington to guarantee $10 billion in Israeli commercial loans, to be drawn over the next five years. Bush planned to say no.

Israel, already America's largest foreign-aid recipient, wanted the huge new credit line in order to finance the resettlement of Jewish refugees streaming out of the collapsing Soviet Union. Bush had long championed the cause of Soviet Jewish emigration, but the timing of this latest request from Jerusalem was wrong, he told the reporters. He was hoping to convene an unprecedented Israel-Arab peace conference in Madrid in the coming weeks, after years of patiently nudging both sides toward the table. At this point, he was eager not to anger Arab leaders by showering sudden new largesse on Israel.

Accordingly, Bush announced that he was asking Congress to delay action on the loan guarantees for 120 days. However, he said, he was "up against some powerful political forces" bent on thwarting his will. Congress, in fact, appeared to be on the verge of approving the loan guarantees without him.

"I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the . . .

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