He Dared To Differ
George Szamuely
New York Press


Extraordinary silence greeted the news of the suspension of Martin Indyk’s State Department security clearance. The current U.S. Ambassador to Israel, a U.S. citizen only since 1993, he’s the first Jew to hold that position. Though the ADL’s Abraham Foxman made a few predictable noises about possible anti-Semitism at work, he quickly dropped the subject. This was rather odd, for the charges against Indyk look rather feeble. He is accused of "sloppy handling of information." Apparently, while traveling, Indyk had used unclassified laptop computers to write up his discussions with foreign leaders. How classified could his discussions have been?

Interestingly – and doubtless entirely coincidentally – just a few days before this public censure, Indyk had delivered a major speech in Israel calling on Israelis and Palestinians to share the city of Jerusalem. "There is no other solution," he pointed out. "It is not, and cannot be the exclusive preserve of one religion." Even Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has not gone this far. He insists that Jerusalem remain undivided and under Israeli control, with only some Arab neighborhoods within and just outside the city being ceded to the Palestinians.

Amazingly, though Martin Indyk’s entire career has been devoted to the cause of championing Israel’s interests, this has done him precious little good with Israel’s amen corner here. He has repeatedly been denounced for insufficient pro-Israeli ardor. Indyk, the New Republic sneered a few years ago, is "as indifferent to Israeli sensibilities as any State Department Arabist." The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s chief lobbying organization in the United States, accused him of "faulty moral equivalence."

Indyk was born in England, grew up in Australia and lived for some years in Israel. When he came to the United States he took a job with AIPAC. In 1985, Indyk created an AIPAC offshoot, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Though the Institute claims to be "a public educational foundation dedicated to scholarly research and informed debate on US interests in the Middle East," very little debate about U.S. interests takes place there since they are taken to be the same as Israel’s. Institute members flood talk shows, op-ed pages and congressional committees with a steady stream of pro-Israeli views. The board of advisers includes such reliable advocates of Israel as Martin Peretz, Edward Luttwak, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard Perle, Eugene Rostow, Max Kampelman, Paul Wolfowitz and Mortimer Zuckerman. Its staffers regularly trot out articles with titles like "The Case for Hitting Hard at Saddam."

Indyk’s successor as executive director, Robert Satloff, is a regular habitué of the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New Republic. His articles are always the same, elaborations on one argument: the United States has no business demanding any concessions from Israel. We should simply stay the hell out of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. U.S. policy toward the "peace process," he wrote in the New Republic two years ago, should be to "recognize any agreed outcome of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and only an agreed outcome of negotiations." Since Israel is by far the stronger party of the two, this policy amounts to little more than blanket American endorsement of the Israeli position.

Having advised Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992, Indyk was appointed to the National Security Council as Middle East expert. He became a U.S. citizen a few days before Clinton’s inauguration. At the NSC, Indyk became famous as the inventor of the "dual containment" strategy, whereby the United States would block Iran’s and Iraq’s access to the world – a naive and hubristic policy that unraveled very quickly. In 1995 Indyk was appointed Ambassador to Israel, where he became a confidant of the Israeli Labor Party leaders.

In October 1997, he came back to Washington to become Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Even before his Senate confirmation hearings were under way he was under attack. The Center for Security Policy, run by various Reagan Administration retreads, denounced his "contemptuous attitude toward Israel." Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote to Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms demanding that Indyk be made to "state for the record his support for and intent to implement" the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, itself Lieberman’s handiwork. Indyk was also criticized for his lukewarm support for a bill requiring the State Department to use the term "Jerusalem, Israel" on the birth certificates of Americans born in Jerusalem. Currently, the State Department lists only "Jerusalem," with no mention of Israel.

Indyk was confirmed. Last year he was attacked again, this time by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Indyk had hired Joe Zogby (son of Arab American Institute President James Zogby) who, it was alleged, had written articles "harshly attacking Israel." ZOA National President Morton A. Klein wrote: "Zogby’s harsh attacks on Israel and US policy in the Mideast for not being sufficiently pro-Arab, should disqualify him from serving on the staff of US government officials involved in shaping America’s Mideast policies." That just about every senior State Department official involved in "shaping" America’s Mideast policies is Jewish is, however, seen as perfectly just and reasonable. Last October, at the request of Barak, Indyk was reappointed U.S. ambassador to Israel – a cozy arrangement the United States would not dream of entertaining with any other country. His humiliation now is further proof, if any was needed, that when it comes to Israel, nothing short of grandstanding will do.

Read George Szamuely's Antiwar.com Exclusive Column

Archived Columns by George Szamuely from the New York Press

He Dared To Differ

Closed Ballots

Kicking Dick

Whore on Drugs

Soros' World

The Good Lieberman

Nader-Buchanan 2000

W's Oil Warriors

Rupert's Hillary

The Veep's No VIP

Hollow Mexico

Death of Innocents

NATO's Home Free

Poll Attacks

Israel's Powerful Friends

Defense Against What?

God Bless Rehnquist!

Long, Hillary Summer

Communicating Power

Law as Ordered

What Threat?

Peculiar Yet Brave

Closed to Debate

Arrogance of Power

Prison Love

Gore's Oil

Rough Justice

Race Race

Al the Coward

Intruder Alert

McCain's Money

Haider Seek

Out of Africa

Prosecute NATO

Villain or Victim?

Intervention, Immigration, and Internment

Home-Grown Terrorism

Who Benefits?

Laws of Return

Embassy Row

Selling Snake Oil

Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be Un-American

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press


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