web analytics
October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

A President’s Televised Anti-Israel Outburst


Media-Monitor-logo

The end of George W. Bush’s presidency coincided with the 20th anniversary of Bush’s father taking the oath of office, and it got the Monitor thinking of how one televised performance on the part of Bush Senior cemented his reputation as a president indifferent or even hostile to Israel.

Actually, the first President Bush has gotten something of a bum rap on that score. That’s not to say he came close to exhibiting toward Israel the sympathetic understanding of Lyndon Johnson, the pragmatic admiration of Richard Nixon, the gut-felt connection of Ronald Reagan, or the instinctive friendship of his own son.

But the fact is that Bush had his administration work for Jewish interests on several fronts, helping facilitate the emigration to Israel of hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews; playing a crucial part in the rescue from Ethiopia of a second wave of Falasha Jews (as Reagan’s vice president Bush had coordinated America’s role in the first mass exodus of Falashas); and successfully pushing the UN to rescind its infamous 1975 resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

It didn’t help U.S.-Israel relations that Bush’s term in office roughly coincided with the premiership in Israel of Yitzhak Shamir, a gruff and introverted man under the best of circumstances, which made him the polar opposite of the genial, extroverted Bush.

“For Bush and Shamir, it was a case of hate at first sight,” wrote Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in Friends In Deed, their anecdotal account of the American-Israeli alliance. “Never in the history of relations between the two countries was there such antipathy – true emotional dislike – between the heads of government. Even between Eisenhower and Ben-Gurion things were not so bad.”

Nor did it help that Bush’s secretary of state, James A. Baker III, famously used a four-letter word in describing American Jewish voting habits or that, as the journalists Andrew and Leslie Cockburn reported, when a friend commented that it seemed like every U.S. administration leaves office disliking Israel, Baker responded with a laugh, “What do you do about someone who comes into office feeling that way?”

But the low point in the Bush administration’s relationship with Israel came on September 12, 1991, when Bush held a nationally televised press conference and blasted Jewish organizations and lobbyists who were trying to win Congressional support for U.S. loan guarantees requested by Israel.

The administration, still at loggerheads with the Shamir government over the issue of Jewish settlements, had been urging Congress to delay consideration of the Israeli requests. Polls showed strong public support for Bush’s position, but Jewish organizations had dispatched hundreds of activists to Washington in a large-scale effort to sway lawmakers.

To Bush, this was nothing less than an attempt to take American foreign policy out of his hands, and he lashed out in language for which he would later apologize.

Fists pounding on his lectern, Bush declared that he was “up against some powerful political forces.… I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely little guy down here doing it.”

Bush also made it sound as though he had gone to war with Saddam Hussein for the sake of Israel. “Just months ago,” he declared, “American men and women in uniform risked their lives to defend Israelis in the face of Iraqi Scud missiles.” (Of course, Bush left out the fact that the war was fought for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the unrestricted flow of oil to the West, and that when Iraq rained Scud missiles down on Israel, the U.S. pressed Israel not to retaliate.)

And, knowing full well how unpopular foreign aid is to large numbers of Americans, Bush exploited that issue as well. “During the current fiscal year alone, and despite our own economic problems,” is how we put it, “the United States provided Israel with more than $4 billion in economic and military aid, nearly $1,000 for every Israeli man, woman and child.”

Though Bush did add that the U.S. had been Israel’s closest friend for more than 40 years and that “this remains the case and will as long as I am president,” nobody paid any attention to that part of his outburst. Bush had, in just a few minutes’ time, ensured that he would be remembered as the first president ever to publicly question the motives (and cast doubts on the legitimacy) of pro-Israel lobbying by American Jews.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A President’s Televised Anti-Israel Outburst”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Aerial view of Yemenite Village of HaShiloach, Old City of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives.
Jews to Double Presence in Old Yemenite Village of Shiloach, Silwan
Latest Indepth Stories
Arab children look at pictures of two of a kind - Arafat and Barghouti.

{Originally posted on author’s site, FirstOne Through} The town of Sayreville, New Jersey is in mourning. The superintendent of the town shut the high school’s football program for the rest of the year due to reports of sexual assaults made by upper classmen of the football team against the junior classmen. According to initial reports, […]

Jordan's King Abdullah

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

The Kinneret/Sea of Galilee

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Bibeye doctor

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

Does it not seem ironic that just on the day all of Israel is joyously celebrating another year of having concluded the public reading of the entire Pentateuch, we must mournfully and even tearfully commemorate the death of the individual who imparted to us God’s Torah in the first place?

Why is “Palestine” worthier of “statehood recognition” than ISIS, another terrorist gang seeking it?

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblyman Hikind talks with a group of Israeli solders.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

William Safire

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/a-presidents-televised-anti-israel-outburst/2009/01/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: