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Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2002 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Joel C. Rosenberg

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Daschle's anti-Israel past




http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | WASHINGTON New questions are being raised about the anti-Israel past of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). In the 1970s, Daschle was a top foreign policy advisor to then-Sen. Jim Abourezk (D-SD), very well the most anti-Israel member of the U.S. Senate at the time, a role that could now come back to haunt Daschle.

With Congress voting to authorize the use of military force against Saddam Hussein, thousands of Jews and Christians rallying in the nation's capital this weekend in support of defending Israel, and mid-term elections just weeks away, now is not a good time for Daschle to be on the defensive. But there he finds himself, nonetheless.

Daschle's office late Thursday issued a statement strongly denying the Senator had signed a radical anti-war petition, as claimed by a liberal web site (Not In Our Name, www.NION.us). "Senator Daschle did not sign this petition nor did he direct anyone to add his name to the petition," insisted his communications director Ranit Schmelzer. "It is unfortunate that someone would choose to forge Senator Daschle's name."

But one person who did sign the petition -- and allowed his name to be used in the full page New York Times ad -- was Sen. Daschle's old boss: former Sen. Jim Abourezk, the American-born son of Lebanese immigrants.

Never heard of Sen. Jim Abourezk? Read on. But be forewarned, his quotes and views may disturb you.

The following are excerpts from a WORLD magazine Oct. 12, 2002 cover story, "MAD DASCHLE" by the publication's national editor, Bob Jones.

  • Fresh out of the Air Force and not yet 25 years old, Tom Daschle needed to find a rising political star to help launch his own career. He'd considered himself a Democrat at least since high school, so there was no question which party he would get behind -- only which candidate....

  • Mr. Daschle signed up with liberal Rep. Jim Abourezk as a $175-a-week field worker. When Abourezk was elected to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Daschle became the senator's point man on "Space, Defense (including Veterans), Foreign Affairs (including Middle East), [and] South Dakota Projects"...with "primary responsibility for Middle East and all other foreign relations matters."....

  • Mr. Abourezk called the Israeli government "terrorist" and consistently opposed arms sales to Tel Aviv. He called for recognition of the PLO and embraced Syrian President Hafez Assad, a major sponsor of international terrorism.

  • Later, during the Gulf War, the former senator even compared Israel to Nazi Germany: "Israel has been grabbing land since 1948, and I don't know how you call it self-defense.... Hitler said he took Czechoslovakia in self-defense, you know."....

  • Mr. Abourezk's papers, now stored in more than 1,000 boxes at the University of South Dakota, contain hundreds of pages of statements from the Congressional Record, but usually only in printed form. What few drafts have survived are mostly typewritten and unsigned, making it impossible to determine the author. But there are tantalizing exceptions that suggest Mr. Daschle was more than just a rubber stamp for the senator's views.

  • With a memo dated April 3, 1975, Mr. Daschle....blasted America's "carte blanche policy on military supplies for Israel," and even charged that the U.S. government endangered its own soldiers for the sake of Israel's: "During the October War the Department of Defense was willing to deplete the supplies available to American military forces in Western Europe and in the United States to maintain the Israeli Defense Forces. This was done to the tune of $2.2 billion which the United States government wrote off as an outright military grant and then asked the American taxpayer to pay for through government borrowing at 9.5% interest. Israel rightly concluded that there were no limits to the American commitment to Israel."

  • Undeniably, [Daschle] was the top foreign-policy aide to the most stridently anti-Israel senator ever to serve on Capitol Hill. But how much of the rhetoric actually came from Mr. Daschle's own pen? It's a question the current Senate majority leader has never been compelled to answer. (Sen. Daschle's office did not respond to WORLD's request for an interview.)

  • Whether he wrote every anti-Israel screed or just a handful of them, Mr. Daschle apparently never challenged his boss's views -- or did anything else to upset the senator, for that matter.

Bottom line: Sen. Daschle has some explaining to do, with just weeks before his political fate may be decided.

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JWR contributor Joel C. Rosenberg is a columnist for World magazine. Comment by clicking here.

Up

010/10/02: Daschle now sides with president, but signed radical anti-war petition
010/03/02: Lautenberg's radical record is a GOP challenger's dream!
01/10/01: The multi-million dollar black conservative professor
12/13/01: PREDICTIONS 2002

© 2001, Joel C. Rosenberg