PAT BUCHANAN: PATRIOT OR ANTI-SEMITE

Pat Buchanan is presently being pilloried by the press and reviled by commentators each day. I have read some of the vicious diatribe used to castigate him, and have heard the derogatory descriptions of him as a Hitler lover and apologist, historical revisionist, and, perhaps worst of all, an anti-Semite. Now, I don't know Buchanan, though I watched and heard him for years as the conservative voice on Crossfire, listened to his speeches when he ran as a Republican presidential candidate, and read his columns. I certainly don't agree with him in the area of free trade, which he does not support, nor do I agree with his refusal to accept a woman's right to choose on abortion. His zany idea of erecting a huge wall along our Mexican border is absurd, and I think he knows it even as he says it for its graphic impact. Nevertheless, I sympathize with Buchanan in those areas, since I realize just how many good-paying blue collar jobs have left America, and am repulsed by those unmarried women who seem to use abortion as a form of after-the-fact birth control, or married women who use it as a matter of convenience. Beyond that, I also believe that illegal immigration is having a significant, generally negative impact on American schools, politics, and social stability.

To clarify briefly, since I am not a candidate for president or any other office, and feel no need to parse my words or avoid stating views that might offend any voting segment, my father was an electrician who worked with his hands, and I understand the vulnerability of tradesmen. To them, a job is their identity, and it provides their station in life. Free trade often causes workmen to feel precarious about their livelihood. They can, and do, lose jobs. Switching to Buchanan's other shibboleth, the sanctity of life: I find abortion reprehensible in almost any form. However, I can reach no other conclusion than to believe the choice must ultimately rest with the woman bearing the prospective child, though I am hopeful she would discuss and share that choice with the man involved. Finally, the Latin phrase our nation adopted, E Pluribus Unum, which has the literal meaning, from many-one, has been forgotten and discarded as America focuses on multiculturalism and ethnic identities. The divergence they create engenders vocal splinter groups all seeking political advantage and patronage. Illegal immigration polarizes and accentuates these differences. No-one today speaks of America as the melting pot of the world. Pat Buchanan encompasses all I have said and much more, things he believes he can change and I believe he cannot.

But the charge of being an anti-Semite is an accusation that is very hard to defend against. It is much like the statement, "When did you stop beating your wife!" In his book, Buchanan is attempting to reemphasize the term, "America First." He believes that entangling alliances and treaties within Europe were responsible for WWI, that Britain's treaty in defense of Poland brought Europe into WWII, and that he would have preferred Hitler and Stalin annihilate each other as Fascism fought Communism. Buchanan did not originate the theory and, like any hindsight, a case can be made for that viewpoint. I am not certain he minimized any of the scope or inhuman aspects of the Holocaust, though I believe he stated their scale greatly expanded after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on the United States. Buchanan makes these points to indicate America is repeating the same mistake by signing treaties that will ultimately draw us into wars not in our national interest.

Unfairly or not, he has been called a reactionary, and an isolationist. His reply, "Well, if they mean I intend to isolate America from all the bloody, territorial, tribal and ethnic wars of the 21st century, I plead guilty!" As a former frogman, still closely involved with navy SEALs, and aware that our military is being tasked to put down civil insurrections throughout the globe, then serve as the socially stabilizing agent in such places as Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and possibly Sierra Leone, I could not agree more with Buchanan. After all, there exists the huge nation of China, an angry, economically fractured Russian bear, a still militarily potent North Korea, and a rearming, furious Iraq with whom we may yet be involved in shooting wars. During times of peace, the most difficult task facing a nation is to prepare its military for war. When few of its citizens have experienced military service, that task becomes politically even more difficult.

The famous French writer, Voltaire, is credited with the quote, "I do not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it!" We rarely honor that freedom in America today. In trying to place America First, Buchanan quarrels with those who seem to serve other masters. The topic comes under the general heading, "Dual loyalties," and the knock is a man cannot be truly loyal to both. Specifically, Buchanan's infamous quip before the Persian Gulf War that, "There are only two groups beating the drums . . . for war in the Middle East--the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States," put a label on him he will have difficulty living down. In this quote, one can easily read the implication that American Jews were more interested in protecting Israel than looking out for America's vital national interests. Was that really anti-Semitic, or did it express the feeling that America's interests would not be served by going to war in the Middle East? I can't claim to get inside anyone's skull, but my feeling is Buchanan resented the political power a relatively small Jewish population, at least in percent of the total, had in determining both our foreign policy and actually taking the country to war. Many people would read that as anti-Semitic. I do not. I regard it as his being irritated by the fact that what was good for Israel, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia was being implemented as American foreign policy, particularly when the case could be made it was not economically or politically necessary, and would result in the deaths of American servicemen.

Without thinking very hard, I can recall four instances in which Israeli interests appear to have subordinated those of America.

In June of 1967, the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering ship flying the American flag, was attacked, bombed, and torpedoed by Israeli forces while it was steaming in international waters. During the 75 minute attack, 34 American sailors were killed and 171 wounded. Two separate flights of defending aircraft from the USS America and USS Saratoga were sent to aid the Liberty. The first flight was recalled by Secretary Robert McNamara. The second, after the admiral Geis' inquiries about a misunderstanding, was recalled by order of President Lyndon Johnson.

The second was a book titled, The Samson Option, written by noted investigative reporter Seymor Hersch. In it, Hersch details the fascinating story of Israel's development and production of nuclear weapons. The undertaking was discovered and reported by the CIA to Lyndon Johnson. In spite of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty America had signed, and our expressed desire to deny other nations nuclear weapons, president Johnson and our government took no action to impede or curtail the huge and expensive, highly secret, Israeli effort.

The third is the episode of Samuel Sheinbein who, at 17, became sufficiently angry at another Maryland teenager that he strangled him with a rope, maimed the body, dismembered it with a power saw and set fire to the torso. While under suspicion for the murder, he boarded a plane to Israel. On arrival, he claimed protection under Israeli law, since his father, Sol Sheinbein, also living in the United States, held dual Israeli and American citizenship. Israel's Supreme Court refused to extradite Mr. Sheinbein to the United States for a Maryland trial, and recently sentenced him to 24 years in an Israeli prison. Israel's prisons seem far more humane than those in America, and he will immediately be eligible for conjugal visits, can apply for furloughs of from 24 to 96 hours beginning in 2003, and can request parole in 2013, when he is 33. Young Mr. Sheinbein has confessed to the particularly brutal murder, but through it all Israel has maintained national and judicial sovereignty over a killing that took place in the United States.

Though I may be considered a trifle loutish and vindictive for saying it, I'm aware about $4B of American foreign aid is presented without strings attached to Israel each year in the form of a loan. Those loans are annually forgiven because Israel is a staunch friend and loyal ally of the United States. Seems to me the United States could easily say the loan will be a little late this year unless Samuel Sheinbein is returned here for trial in a court of jurisdiction. The parents of the murdered boy would certainly be grateful to see their son's killer tried by a Maryland court, sentenced by an American jury, and incarcerated in an American prison. It might be closer, as the old testament says, to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a hand for a hand.

I sincerely hope I can state Israel is being a bit high-handed about the Sheinbein case without myself being considered anti-Semitic. I say this from a background as a naval frogman where anyone completing training was fully accepted. His race, his religion, his ethnic background, his native language, and his color did not matter an iota. My first swim buddy in the teams was Charlie Mack, an excellent black man, and I can assure you there was no racial prejudice between us. Each of us was dependent during our dangerous closed circuit diving on the other for his life, and petty things like the color of one's skin were laughable. That was 1956, and I have not changed since. To risk being thought blunt, I believe it is completely unfair that a man cannot criticize an action of Israel's or one of its policies without running the risk of being called an anti-Semite. I'm not. Israel has unique interests, survival among a sea of Arabs being the foremost. America has her own. They may not always be parallel. Sometimes, they are opposed.

The last item that comes to mind was the trial for treason, conviction, and imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard, who worked for US intelligence, for spying for and delivering top secret information to Israel. Despite numerous subsequent attempts to have him freed by the Israeli government, Mr. Pollard is still serving his life sentence. Our intelligence people have repeatedly insisted that his term not be commuted, saying his offense and the secrets he provided the Israelis were as extensive and important as those for which Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed.

Political pressure was placed on president Clinton by Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Wye accords last year to pardon Mr. Pollard for time already served. In fact, it was stated that Mr. Netanyahu essentially gave an ultimatum to us. Heeding the advice of his subordinates, President Clinton turned it down.

Mr. Pollard himself, in an interview given in prison on 15 May, 1998, provided a quote that I think is quite interesting. The former file clerk said, "You can't love two countries at the same time to the same degree, just as you can't love in a sense two women, equally -one has to suffer." Serving a life sentence for loving one of those countries more than the other, Mr. Pollard ought to know.

Funny, but it seems to me that's exactly what Pat Buchanan is being called an anti-Semite for saying.

10/31/99


Sam Orr sorr@metrolink.net
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)