Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Schifter Shifts to Clinton

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Schifter Shifts to Clinton

Article excerpt

Schifter Shifts to Clinton

Richard Schifter, who reportedly spent much of his tenure as Reagan administration assistant secretary of state for human rights trying to water down criticism of Israel in the State Department's annual human rights report, was one of only three assistant secretaries held over when Ronald Reagan appointee George Shultz was replaced as secretary of state by George Bush appointee James Baker. All three holdovers were Jewish, which led to speculation among their career colleagues that they owed their coveted jobs more to clout with the Israel lobby than to irreplaceable expertise in their fields.

That, apparently, is what political appointee Schifter believed too. Last April 3, he left the State Department after six years in the position. According to an interview he granted to the Jerusalem Report, his departure was due in part to disagreements with the Bush administration and career foreign service personnel over Israel. Now he has publicly broken with the Bush administration by signing an advertisment promoting Democratic presidential candidate William Clinton's foreign policy credentials.

Schifter has been writing a column for the Washington Jewish Week, and heads the American Jewish Committee's national advisory council. Before his Reagan administration appointment, Schifter had been a founding member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a hard-line lobbying group close to the Israeli arms industry.

There Go the Neocons, Again

Among signers of the "Clinton/Gore '92 Committee" advertisement in The New York Times, along with Richard Schifter, were other so-called "neo-conservatives," who, back in 1980, described themselves as Roosevelt Democrats supporting conservative Republican Ronald Reagan. The one thing that held together the otherwise contentious neocons was their desire for a Middle East settlement made in Israel and backed up by a lot of U.S. military power, which they wanted to keep intact.

Signers of the pro-Clinton advertisement included Morris Amitay, former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Edward Koch, former New York mayor who now writes a strongly pro-Israel newspaper column; Martin Peretz, fanatically pro-Israel publisher of the New Republic; and analyst Edward Luttwak, whose Middle East strategies seem to be based as much on Israeli as on U.S. interests.

Will Lobby Lose Its Solarz-Power?

The 1990 census returns resulted in a reduction of New York congressional seats from 43 to 40. Efforts to create safe seats for Black and Hispanic representatives resulted in the carving up of Democratic Rep. Stephen Solarz's Jewish-majority district. Faced with running against Israelsupporters Reps. Ted Weiss (D) in the Sept. 15 primary and Bill Green (R) in the November election, Solarz chose instead to run against several Hispanic Democratic primary contenders in a newly created district with a 58 pecent Hispanic majority. The Solarz move engendered resentment among New York Hispanics, who fear his $2 million campaign war chest, accumulated over several elections in which he had no serious opposition.

Whatever happens to Jewish-Hispanic relations in New York, Solarz will emerge a winner. If he loses and retires from Congress, he can take his unspent campaign kitty with him into private life. This is the last year he would be able to do that. …

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