Would A President Lieberman Be Good For The Jews?

Alan Skorski - The Jewish Press (NY) - December 31, 2002

J4JP Preface:

In the J4JP new Lieberman series, various articles point out the danger that Senator Joseph Lieberman represents not only for Jonathan Pollard - Lieberman has played a key role in unjustly keeping Jonathan in prison - but also for Israel and the Jewish community. The recent articles focus strongly on the moral character of Senator Lieberman and his "flip-flopping" positions on the issues. In the Jerusalem Post, Jackie Mason sums up that the problem with Lieberman is not that he is Jewish, but that he is a "hypocrite" on issues from moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem to school vouchers. In the Wall Street Journal deputy editor, Tunku Varadarajan, writes that Lieberman is an "unctuous and fulsome fraud" who has "... plotted every aspect of his persona as carefully as the best cartographer, measuring precisely how much of a Jew he can be, and as a Jew how Orthodox, and as an Orthodox Jew how flexible, and as a flexible Orthodox Jew how credible, and as a credibly flexible Orthodox Jew how electable." In the article below, political activist, Alan Skorski cites issues-based examples that lead him to the same conclusions about Lieberman.

The Jewish Press (NY)

When I first heard that Joe Lieberman had been tapped to be Al Gore`s running mate (back in the summer of 2000), I was on my way home from the Catskills. I knew it wouldn't be long before my Jewish Democrat friends would be calling to ask me, an active Republican, "So, who are you going to vote for now?"

When the calls came, I explained that I was still sticking with George W. Bush. You see, in their excitement over Lieberman my friends forgot that Al Gore, not Lieberman, was the presidential candidate.

Some of those friends, mindful of how journalists criticized George Bush Senior for picking the inexperienced Dan Quayle as his running mate and placing him "only a heartbeat away from the presidency," pointed out to me that Lieberman, too, would be "only a heartbeat away."

To which I patiently replied that while Al Gore was a master at changing his persona - and even his appearance the fact remained that Gore was an extension of Bill Clinton. (Besides, as I said, I am a Republican.)

Eventually, though, as the campaign evolved I began to feel vindication for "turning my back on a fellow Orthodox Jew," as Joe Lieberman started leaning more toward liberal Democratic policies and away from Jewish (halachic) values. He came out strongly in support of "choice" on abortion rights and backed off and even turned against "choice" on education.

Basically, what happened was that while everyone thought Lieberman would make Al Gore and the Clintonite Democrats kosher, it was Gore and the Dems who were making Lieberman non-kosher.

Whatever Joe Lieberman says or does that may conflict with halacha is between him and G-d. I am not a rabbi or a judge, but on those matters on which I can evaluate him, I certainly will not hold back. One such matter is Israel.

Senator Lieberman is seen by many in the pro-Israel community as the some sort of savior or guardian. Sadly, his actions prove otherwise. This is especially important to bear in mind when he campaigns for other candidates, reassuring Jewish audiences that these candidates "pass the muster" on Israel.

I remember Lieberman, in his typical hyperbolic style, telling Jewish groups that "you won`t have a better friend on Israel than Hillary Clinton." Really? He could have just said, "She will be there for you." Or, perhaps, "She will do the right thing." But to promise us that she`d be our best friend? With her record of hostile remarks about Jews, as documented by, among others, the Clintons`former political guru Dick Morris?

Speaking of records, when you look at Joe Lieberman`s record on issues related to Israel you can understand why he can speak so affectionately and passionately about people like Hillary Clinton.

Back in 1992, according to the Detroit Free Press, Jim Zogby, brother of pollster John Zogby and president of the pro-PLO Arab American Institute, paid a visit to Sen. Lieberman to complain about Arab Americans` alleged lack of access to the Democratic leadership. (The virulent anti-Israel activism of both James and John Zogby was recently chronicled by The Jewish Press.)

Joe Lieberman responded, "I`m an Orthodox Jew and I want Arab Americans involved in this [Clinton/Gore] campaign. It`s wrong, and I`m not going to stand for it." A few days later, Zogby`s delegation was invited to meet with party officials and was soon given a role in the Clinton campaign.

This should not be taken lightly by the Jewish community. This is not about Alan Skorski trying to deny a particular group the right to play an active role in the political process. We as pro-Israel advocates have to keep our eyes open, especially as Israel`s enemies and I certainly considerJim Zogby an enemy of Israel are gaining political influence in this country.

What justification can there possibly be for an Orthodox Jewish senator helping an enemy of Israel gain influence at the highest levels of our government?

But there is more. In 1995 Sen. Lieberman coauthored the Jerusalem Embassy Act. This bill declared Jerusalem as Israel`s undivided capital and stipulated that the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999. Again, from the Detroit Free Press (Aug. 16, 2000): "Lieberman recently sent a small olive branch to Arab Americans. After he was tapped by Gore, Lieberman said publicly that he had declined a recent request by Israeli officials to pressure the Clinton administration to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Militarily, Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East. In the war of public relations, however, Israel is not doing so well in part because Arab propagandists like the Zogby brothers have become much more sophisticated and have been able to use their influence to sway public opinion.

Every Jew concerned about Israel must ask himself the following questions: If Al Gore and Joe Lieberman were now in the White House, how different would the situation be in the Middle East?

Would Ariel Sharon have the "wink, wink" green light he now enjoys from the Bush administration to fight Palestinian terror or would Vice President Lieberman, afraid of being seen as too biased toward his Jewish brethren, succumb to Jim Zogby`s pressure and push President Gore in the same direction?

Would a Gore/Lieberman administration have had friends of Israel like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, et al?

Now that Gore has made it official that he won`t be running in 2004, it`s almost a given that Joe Lieberman will seek his party`s nomination. He certainly has the highest name recognition of the current group of Democrats being mentioned as possible presidential candidates.

But he is also, as the Jerusalem Post`s Bret Stephens recently wrote, a man who has "flip-flopped on Clinton, on Hollywood, on Social Security....If in 1997 he poured scorn on Arafat for doing nothing to rein in terrorists, in 1999 he welcomed Arafat at the National Prayer Breakfast."

Senator Lieberman certainly has a place in Jewish history, and he has done some fine things for our community. But we Jews can ill afford blind tribal loyalty, especially in these dangerous times.

Alan Skorski, formerly a pro-Israel activist at Wayne State University and a candidate for Congress from Long Island, is currently engaged in bringing the Republican message to Jewish voters.

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