CIA Director, George Tenet, has arrived to the region, in order to resuscitate the Oslo Process, by resurrecting the legitimacy of Arafat and by rebuilding the PLO/PA’s terror apparatus (otherwise called “security and police forces”). Tenet has been the intelligent, pleasant, and professional ally of Secretary Powell in the ideological battle with the Cheney-Rumsfeld school of thoughts. While Secretary Powell has considered Arafat and the Oslo Process as viable ingredients for peace, Cheney and Rumsfeld have concluded that the Oslo Process has undermined regional stability and US interests. They have considered Arafat and the PLO as the key to the problem rather than the solution. Tenet was drafted (1993) into the National Security Council, and then promoted to the post of Deputy CIA Director, by Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor. It was Berger who was mostly responsible for Arafat becoming the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House during Clinton’s presidency. Prior to joining the Clinton Administration, Tenet was a most effective and a most respected Staff Director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, serving under Chairman David Boren (OK-D), a powerful legislator, who displayed a cold-indifferent attitude toward Israel. George Tenet, a loyal leader to his bureaucracy, is heading the CIA, which has been (since 1990) second only to the Dep’t of State in its appeasing policy toward Saddam, its hostility toward the Iraqi opposition and its criticism (since 1948) of Israel. In 1990, the CIA instilled fear in the Administration, wildly exaggerating the strength of Saddam’s military and the scope of expected US losses. In 1967, the CIA exerted a brutal pressure on Israel to refrain from the pre-emptive Six Day War. In 1948, the CIA joined the Dep’t of State in the opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State.
Never have the CIA and the Department of State encountered such an effective congressional/public opposition in their attempts to reinvent the PLO/PA and to coerce Israel into reckless sweeping concessions. However, Congressional leaders wonder whether recent Israeli military actions have revitalized the Israeli spirit, which led to the Six Days War, Jonathan (Entebbe) Operation and the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor? Or, does the indecisive, incomplete and inconsistent manner of the current military actions demonstrate the re-entrenchment of the Oslo Process in the mind of Israel’s policy-makers? Congressional leaders wonder whether Israel comprehends the nature of the drastic changes in the US state of mind, which have occurred since 9/11, and their positive impact on US attitudes (especially on Capitol Hill) toward Israel?
An April 2002 Gallup Poll indicates that the degree of support for Israel among President Bush voters has reached an all time high. The level of support enjoyed by President Bush among registered Republicans, conservatives, the intellectual Right and Church circles is similar to the level of support enjoyed by Israel among the same groups. Such a unique phenomenon in US history has not escaped the attention of the President’s political advisors, who have been preoccupied with the November 2002 election, highlighting the 435 races for the House of Representatives, 34 Senate races and the 36 gubernatorial races in California, Texas, New York and (that of Jeb Bush) in Florida, etc. The poll suggests that 70% of the US public view Palestinian tactics as terrorism. An April poll conducted by CBS shows that 59% of the public has established symmetry between the US war on Islamic terrorism and Israel’s war on Palestinian terrorism.
VP Cheney stated on “Face the Nationa” (May 19, 2002) that suicidal bombers should not be allowed to set the agenda in the Mideast, lest they transfer that mode of operation into the US! Majority Whip, Tom DeLay, determined on May 22, 2002 that Arafat/PLO/PA constitute a threat to US interests, and that the US and Israel are fighting a common battle against terrorism – a battle over values and strategic interests. Majority Leader, Dick Armey, is currently leading an appeal to extradite Palestinian terrorists and the Syria Accountability Act. Both Armey and DeLay support 5-10 Congressional initiatives, which enhance war on Palestinian and Syrian terrorism, supporting Israel, exerting more pressure on the PLO/PA and limiting the maneuverability of the Dep’t of State on Capitol Hill. They lead the most hawkish Congress on US-Israel relations since 1948.
The current Congress has demonstrated suspicion, criticism and indifference toward the Oslo Process, PLO, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab regimes, the UN and toward peacekeeping and other multi-lateral initiatives. Congress has never regarded the Jewish State as a classic issue of foreign policy. Rather, it has considered Israel an external/domestic issue, representing SHARED interests, threats and values. A large marble plaque of the face of Moses is featured in the House of Representatives, and the official US and Congressional Seals include a Star of David, composed of thirteen stars. The Founding Fathers derived much of their inspiration from the Old Testament. Unlike the Knesset, the US Congress (Senate and House) is equal, in clout, to the Administration. The US Legislature is independent of the Executive, and dependent on constituents. Separation of Powers and the system of Checks and Balances have made Congress the most powerful legislature in the world. Congress, rather than the Administration, possesses the Power of the Purse, and could transform a popular president into a Lame Duck president, as evidenced by Bush #41.
The editors of the leading conservative weeklies in the USA, William Kristol and Rich Lowry of the Weekly Standard and The National Review, the editor of The New Republci, Martin Peretz (a supporter of Al Gore), along with former CIA Director and Secretary of Educaction, James Coolsey and William Bennett, 24 additional personalities of the US Center and Right sent a public letter to President Bush (April 3, 2002): “It can no longer be the policy of the US to urge, much less to pressure, Israel to continue negotiating with Arafat, any more than we would be willing to be pressured to negotiate with Osama Bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Nor should the US provide financial support to a Palestinian Authority that acts as a cog in the machine of Middle East terrorism, any more than we would approve of others providing assistance to Al-Qaeda…Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight. Israel’s victory is an important part of our victory. For reasons both moral and strategic, we need to stand with Israel in its fight against terrorism… The US and Israel share a common enemy. We are both targets of what you have correctly called an ‘Axis of Evil.’ Israel is targeted in part because it is our friend, and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles – American principles – in a sea of tyranny, intolerance and hatred… The terrorist network consists of Arafat and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority… In the war on terrorism, we cannot condemn some terrorists while claiming that other terrorists are potential partners for peace. We cannot help some allies under siege, while urging others to compromise their fundamental security… The present crisis stems not from the absence of a political way forward, but from terrorism…”
Never have the US public, Congress and critical elements in the Administration shared such deep empathy with Israel’s battle against Palestinian terrorism. Never has the terrorist threat, shared by the US and Israel, been as clear to Americans as it has been since 9/11. Never has the Dep’t of State faced such high hurdles in its attempts to force Israel into sweeping and unwarranted concessions. Never has the public image of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians been so low in the US. Never has the US attitude toward the threat of terrorism been as lucid as it has been since 9/11: “In the battle between Right and Wrong, one should not be neutral, avoid preoccupation with the Gray area (which plays into the hands of terrorists), and focus on the destruction of the entire infrastructure which feeds terrorism.”
A senior US official told me a few weeks ago that “The lack of moral clarity in the battle against terrorist regimes has undermined Western battle against terrorism. The Bush Administration believes that one should deny terrorist regimes any legitimacy, as has been the case with regimes promoting genocide, slavery or piracy. Western democracies should not allow terrorists to change Western mode of living. Rather, Western democracies should devastate the terrorists’ mode of operations. One should not negotiate with terrorists. One should obliterate them.”
Would Israel leverage the post-9/11 mood in the USA, expanding mutually-beneficial strategic cooperation, bolstering its steadfastness in face of pressure, and strengthening Israel’s control of historic and strategic sacrosanct, which is fundamental to the long-term survival of any nation? Would Israel overcome temptations and pressure to concede areas, which constitute the cradle of its history and are indispensable for its long-term national security, in return for a short-term diplomatic and financial gratification?