Rep. Nancy Pelosiís recent speech to the Israeli-American lobby (AIPAC) ought to be a clarion call for peace activists. Her address did not contain any big surprises. But it is, nonetheless, remarkable for its transparency. The speech (see below for the text) affords a up-close look at what Pelosi thinks about Israel, the Palestinians, the Mideast, and nukes.
Itís worth a look too because Pelosiís beliefs on these matters are not a departure. Most of the Democratic Party leadership espouse similar ideas. The bipartisan voting record of Congress in recent years on Mideast issues proves this to be the case. Remember, this is the party thatís supposed to represent the grassroots, i.e., we the people. So what is the Democratic leader of the House doing, anyway, giving a pep talk to the second largest lobby in Washington? Indeed, to the lobby of a foreign power? Itís a question more Americans ought to be asking.
Most of the speech is the same old stuff. I draw your attention only to several points:
Pelosi denies that the key issue is Israelís occupation of the West Bank and Gaza --- at a stroke repudiating numerous UN Security Council Resolutions that the US voted for and supposedly still supports. But clearly, thatís no longer the case, and hasnít been for many years.
The real issue, she states, is the survival of Israel. This is the familiar mantra by which anything and everything becomes possible. Only, there's a minor catch: The statement isnít true and hasnít been since probably 1949.
If nothing else, Pelosi is well-versed. She recites another familiar line, the one about how there was no partner for peace until Arafat expired, when light suddenly came flooding in. Pelosi makes it clear that in her view the Palestinian leader Abbasí real job is to serve as policeman for Israel. Evidently, his legitimacy largely depends on this. Looking after the best interests of his own people comes in a distant second.
But her most revealing statements concern nuclear proliferation, and they show why the Democrats (who donít get it) are no improvement over the Republicans (who always get it wrong). In fact, the Democrats may be even more dangerous, precisely because there is still the perception in the land, however mistaken, that the Democrats are the party of enlightened ideas. I would be willing to bet that most registered democrats are not aware of how extreme their elected Democratic representatives are on these key issues. Nor can most thus have a true sense of how dire the situation is.
According to Pelosi, the biggest danger to Israel today comes from Iran, whose nuclear ambitions, though still unproved, also threaten the US. Her perspective contains the seed of ominous things to come, because, after all, something will have to be done about Iran, right? Yes, and soon.
Meanwhile, Pelosi manages to overlook Israelís brutal treatment of the Palestinians, which undoubtedly is the greatest danger to Israel, by far, and comes from within. Nor does she mention Israelís massive nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenal. But her statements additionally contain the tacit and troublesome assumption that the only people in the region who matter are Israelis and Americans. Everyone else, virtually the entire population of numerous countries, though no less imperiled by nuclear weapons (arguably even more so), simply donít count in this calculus. In fact, Pelosiís remarks are implicitly racist for this reason.
The shocker, though, also near the end, is where Pelosi takes the US and Israeli nuclear monopoly in the region for granted, as if this were a good and necessary thing. The purpose of the NPT in her view is to shut down the rogue proliferators, who by definition are always those other guys, never us. Itís the stuff of which nuclear nightmares are made. I would also bet that the vast majority of people who live in the Mideast take sharp issue with Pelosiís thinking, and probably have a bone to pick with her about where the actual threat lies.
George Washington, our founding father, who warned against entangling alliances, must be turning over, about now. But donít take my word for it. Read Pelosiís speech (which follows) and draw your own conclusions.
Mark Gaffney is the author of Dimona: the Third Temple?, a pioneering 1989 book about Mordechai Vanunu and the Israeli nuke program. Markís latest book is Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes. Mark can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Pelosi Speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee;
Text of Remarks
5/24/2005 12:11:00 PM
WASHINGTON, May 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at their 2005 Policy Conference last night. Pelosi discussed the relationship between the United States and Israel and the continued effort for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Below are her remarks:
"Thank you, Amy Friedkin, my dear friend for so many years. Californians, North and South, are proud of your great leadership at AIPAC. And to Bernice Manocherian, President of AIPAC, thank you. All who care about peace in the Middle East are grateful for your strength and wisdom in guiding AIPAC. As a native of Baltimore, I take special pride of your incoming President, Howard Friedman, who will continue in the tradition of outstanding leadership at AIPAC.
"I also want to acknowledge all of the students who are here. It is great to see so many young people taking such an interest in public affairs, especially on one of the critical issues of our time: peace in the Middle East. This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.
"And then we were told that the reason we had to land in that field, as opposed to our actual destination, was because there had been an infiltration that morning, and they weren't sure how secure the area was. And that point alone brought us back to the daily reality of Israel: even moments of peace and beauty are haunted by the specter of violence.
"While in Israel, we met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years ago.
"One thing, however is unchanged: America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship.
ďPrime Minister Sharon's leadership of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable. He has brought Israel through an extremely challenging period, and now he has made the difficult decision that it is in Israel's national security interest to disengage from Gaza.
"In the next few months, Israeli settlers will be evacuated entirely from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. This courageous decision is gut-wrenching for Israel.
"Israel's decision can be a decisive milestone on the road to peace. If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace.
"Any progress on the Roadmap for Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it.
"Fortunately, Palestinian Authority President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant, stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure the security services. All that is commendable.
"But he has not removed Arafat's corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision, and now he is confronted with a huge challenge: by the end of summer, Israel will be out of Gaza.
"Can Gaza become a pilot case for self-government for a Palestinian state? Or will it become a terrorist haven, a launching pad for rockets into Israel? President Abbas must act, for his own good, against those he must know are his enemies and are the enemies of the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
"The United States, just as Israel, wants to see him succeed. That is why I was so pleased when President Bush dispatched Jim Wolfensohn to help with the Gaza withdrawal. It is why I supported additional aid to the Palestinians in the Emergency Supplemental bill that recently passed Congress.
"There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to
"The greatest threat to Israel's right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it
has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.
"Proliferation represents a clear threat to Israel and to America. It must be confronted by an international coalition against proliferation, with a commitment and a coalition every bit as strong as our commitment to the war against terror.
"The people of Israel long for peace and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope that peace and security come soon - and that this moment of opportunity is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.
"In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.'
"The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever."