Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

People Watch: Martin Indyk Doesn't Forget

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

People Watch: Martin Indyk Doesn't Forget

Article excerpt

People Watch: Martin Indyk Doesn't Forget

"Without Barbie, I would not be standing before you tonight, as a spokesperson for the Clinton administration," White House Director of Near East and South Asian Affairs Martin Indyk told a Washington Institute for Near East Policy audience on May 18. The occasion was the ascension of former American Israel Public Affairs Committee board member Barbara Weinberg from president to chairperson of the Washington Institute, which she and Indyk, then an employee of AIPAC, Israel's Washington, DC lobby, founded together. Although Indyk's speech was described as a major statement of Clinton administration Middle East policy, the Washington Institute subsequently refused to release the text as delivered, issuing instead a summary of its "high points." Indyk's grateful remarks about Weinberg, who provided the institute's initial funding, were not included.

Clinton's Political Adviser

Indyk's White House colleague, political adviser Rahm Emmanuel, whose office is just steps from President Bill Clinton's, also got his start in AIPAC ranks more than a decade ago as a student volunteer imported to southern Illinois to work against then-Republican Representative Paul Findley, who, during his 22 years in the House of Representatives, had offended Israel's supporters by suggesting the U.S. look again at a number of Arab leaders, including PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Emmanuel earned his present White House position as the principal fundraiser for Clinton's presidential campaign. He may have earned his clout with some Democratic Party contributors in an unusual manner. Former American Jewish Congress official Mark Bruzonsky of the dovish Jewish Committee on the Middle East reported in his weekly column in the daily Saudi Gazette of Jeddah that the chief White House political strategist is a former captain in the Israeli army.

Yitzhak Rabin's Successor?

Service in the Israeli military is a time-honored way to enter Israeli politics too, although it took American-style party elections to pass leadership of Israel's rightwing nationalist Likud Party from former Jewish underground terrorist and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to the new generation, represented by former Israeli U.N. Ambassador and soundbite specialist Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin apparently is hoping to head off his Labor party rival, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, by grooming Israel's current chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, to be Rabin's successor as head of the Israeli Labor Party.

Barak's predecessor as chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Amran Mitzna, retired in March and immediately won a Labor Party nomination to be its candidate for mayor of Haifa in November elections. Israel's new president, Ezer Weizman, was a former Israeli air force chief, and Weizman's predecessor as president, Chaim Herzog, also was a career military officer.

Chief of Staff Barak was much in evidence during U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's February visit to Israel. What Christopher may not have known then is that it was Barak who originally advised Rabin to deport some 400 Palestinian Muslims from the Israeli-occupied territories last December 17, dealing a critical blow to the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks. Just before that, Barak tried to conceal the fact that he had been present last November at a "training accident" in which five Israeli soldiers were killed by a misfired rocket during what was rumored to be a "dress rehearsal" for an assassination which was to have been carried out in a neighboring country. …

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