New York World Order: Giuliani's Foreign Policy Mayor's Trip to Middle East Made Headlines, but Mostly at Home

By Ron Scherer, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 18, 1996 | Go to article overview

New York World Order: Giuliani's Foreign Policy Mayor's Trip to Middle East Made Headlines, but Mostly at Home


Ron Scherer, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FROM the Big Apple, Rudolph Giuliani jets to the Middle East and offers the Israelis advice. He hosts parties for prime ministers but kicks out Yasser Arafat. And Fidel Castro can forget about enjoying a city freebie.

He's no United States envoy, but that apparently hasn't stopped the mayor of America's most international city from running his own version of foreign policy.

New York City mayors traditionally have had no compunction about weighing in - with all the brashness of a New Yorker - about events overseas. Sometimes, as in the case of Mr. Giuliani's visit to Israel last week, mayors have adopted stances that put them at odds with official US positions.

The mayor traveled to Israel to express sympathy for victims of the recent bombings and to encourage New Yorkers to visit the Middle East nation. He also offered Israelis his views on Mr. Arafat.

"Don't go romanticizing," he warned. "Remember if you are asking something of him you need more proof that it is going to be carried out than if you asked that of someone else."

The mayor's advice contrasts with the official position of the US government.

"Arafat's actions have spoken quite loudly in the wake of the bombing, and on the whole the United States government has taken a very positive note of what he's done," says Glyn Davies, deputy spokesman for the State Department.

But the international community need not worry, according to one former Big Apple mayor. "Who listens to him or any other mayor who makes these statements overseas?" asks former mayor Edward Koch. "Nobody cares. They only care here in New York."

Indeed they do. Giuliani's remarks resonate in the borough of Brooklyn, home to many Orthodox Jews, whom the mayor counts on for support. "He is rising higher and higher in the eyes of the Jewish community," says Noach Dear, a city councilman from the borough.

Not all of Brooklyn is so enraptured. "I think the mayor was grandstanding. He could have gone there very quietly instead of taking a crush of reporters with him," says Sal Albanese, a Brooklyn Democrat and City Council member.

The New York Times referred to the mayor's trip as "clumsy" and said he was interfering with internal Israeli politics. …

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