Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A View from the Hill: 1992 Elections an Opportunity to Reassess US-Israeli Relations

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A View from the Hill: 1992 Elections an Opportunity to Reassess US-Israeli Relations

Article excerpt

A View From the Hill: 1992 Elections An Opportunity to Reassess US-Israeli Relations

By George Moses

In the political numerology of the United States, even-numbered years are election years, when legislators must transform themselves from statesmen into pandering political candidates.

This election year, however, is one in which all of the domestic political opportunities and pitfalls associated with US Middle East policies must be re-examined by candidates. This could lead to a serious public re-evaluation of US interests and policies associated with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Right now, moreover, is the time to make it happen. Here's why.

The foreign policy background to this year's election is a continuation of that of 1990, with the rate of change caused by world political upheaval continuing to accelerate. In a final victory of US Cold War policy, the Soviet Union is no more, replaced by 15 political entities about which most Americans know virtually nothing. Led by Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, too, may relapse into a chaos known to most Americans only from the history books. Israel can no longer pose as an American "strategic asset" in relation to any of these countries.

At home, our need for economic readjustment has seemed to match the need for Eastern European political readjustment, stride for stride. One trend that has emerged clearly is growing skepticism about bilateral foreign aid, a third of which traditionally goes to Israel.

In the states, congressional redistricting to accommodate the results of the 1990 census is, as usual, being carried out by processes analogous to setting foxes loose in hen houses. Earlier predictions from this source of a turnover of about 20 percent in the House of Representatives still seem on target. It is safe to predict that far more of the new members elected in 1992 will be from minority groups than those they replace. For them, the old orthodoxies of American policy, including the wisdom of always siding with Israel's lobby in Washington, will be very much open to question.

Meanwhile, the political clock continues to tick. By the time this magazine reaches its readers, filing deadlines for congressional primaries will be very close in over half the states, and the New Hampshire presidential primary will be only weeks away (ignore Iowa, everyone else will.)

In the region, the peace "process" drags on while Israel, with American dollars, continues its expropriation of Palestinian lands. Portions of Lebanon and Syria also remain under an Israeli occupation made possible by American financial support. The US also continues to block UN consideration of, and action against, racist Israeli policies against Arabs on both sides of the Green Line.

The United States enjoyed a military victory in Iraq, but has not yet converted this into a political victory either for itself or for the Iraqi people. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the American master plan for a common defense strategy is again stalled.

All this provides a chance to pose anew a number of Israel-related questions to candidates who, if they aspire to national office, ought to have some answers by which voters can judge their fitness. Some (by no means all) of the questions are listed below:

Questions of Policy

On Oct. 11, 1985, Alex Odeh, a regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), was killed in Orange County, CA by a booby trap wired to his office door. The suspects in this murder, named by the FBI, continue to reside in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank despite US requests for Israeli assistance in their extradition. …

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