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UNITED STATES: Congress and the Middle East

If another world war breaks out, it will begin in the Middle East, so we should talk about it candidly. This is not happening, since both parties are afraid of alienating the Jewish lobby. Most intelligent Americans are tired of the theater of the presidential elections, whereas the independent candidates, notably Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, impress people with their intelligence, wealth of information, and honesty, regardless of their quite different views. Ralph Nader complains that the US Congress and press have been one-sidedly pro-Israel, and this is the opinion in most countries. Among significant Nader supporters is Phil Donahue.

One of the best speeches I have ever heard was given by Kurt Stone at the Jewish Community Center in Dania, Florida. He is an extremely alert, well informed individual who has had a remarkably varied career, being among other things an ordained rabbi. In his book The Congressional Minyan, he describes his drawing up a list of the Jewish Members of Congress. It was an extremely difficult task, because many of them were officially Christian, just like many converted Jews in sixteenth-century Spain, where the Inquisition busied itself ferreting out judaizantes. Stone found out that a congressman from Oklahoma was really a Jew. In Spain one method of unmasking Jews was ask them to eat pork, Another was to see if they were circumcised. Stone chose to use death, not birth, as the criterion. Jews always insist on being buried in the Jewish section of a cemetery, so Stone found out where every dead Member of Congress was buried. In the present Congress his research came up with over 170 Jewish members. They do not form a caucus for fear of scaring the public, but they have means of communicating like a caucus.

The problem is that there is no similar body of Muslims in Congress, so the debate is one-sided. Stone was open in his expressing his hope that Joe Lieberman would be elected Vice-President and that this would pave the way for Jewish President. Obviously his Jewish audience agreed. However, this possibility may explain the rise of Bush in the polls, although no one would admit this.

The conclusion is that in US presidential elections, it is not a question of "Let the best man win." It is a question of using sound bites or saying a few words in bad Spanish to win groups of voters. The system is wrong, and many people realize it, but to get agreement on the necessary changes will be almost impossible.

Ronald Hilton - 11/06/00