As mentioned previously, I met with the Deputy National Security Advisor to the United States, Elliott Abrams, a few weeks ago. He was at a local area synagogue, and spoke after Friday night services. The main subject of his talk was Jews in government. Essentially, his claim was that from the 1960s-1990s, it was basically a nonissue to see a Jew in government. However, with the Walt and Mersheimer paper, suddenly, the outside community (not the Bush administration) sees it as a problem that Jews are in government. He said that there are now college courses at elite universities that look at whether the "Israel lobby" and AIPAC control US foreign policy. The Walt/Mersheimer paper is read, and then the Dershowitz response paper is read. Both are 'debated,' to determine the 'truth' of whether AIPAC and the "Israel lobby" control foreign policy. Imagine that. Imagine if there was a class where Holocaust denial literature was read on par with Elie Wiesel's books, and the "truth" of it were debated. Such is the state of modern American academia. Truly frightening. Abrams said that he feared for the future generations, saying he saw antisemitism on the rise not just abroad, but here on American soil, in American academia.
After his talk, there were many questions and answers posed. I raised my hand and asked the first question. My question was: "In light of the fact that Yassir Arafat's uncle was a Nazi who was an architect of the Final Solution, and that Fatah's roots are indeed in Nazism (and there is no indication that Abbas/Abu Mazen thinks any differently)...why is Israel and the US fooling itself by pretending that somehow Abu Mazen is 'moderate' and should be 'negotiated with'?"
Abrams's response was very instructive. He said that Abu Mazen may not be a moderate by "our standards," but he was someone who at least "wanted to talk." However, Abu Mazen has little power, and so it's basically pointless to speak to him until and unless he does have power. He then went on a long sidenote about how moderates rarely do end up in power in these sorts of nations. According to this 'logic,' then it would be up to the US and Israel to do all that is possible to empower Abu Mazen.
But here is where you kind folks will be enlightened. After the talk, a little birdie told me that some people close to Elliott Abrams completely disagree with his characterization of Abu Mazen as "someone who wants to talk," and a "relative moderate," but could not say so publicly. This little birdie also thanked me for saying what I said publicly.
Other tidbits from Abrams...
He spoke of Iran and its nuclear threat, and then said that the Democrats wanted to put language into a bill that would take the military option OFF the table for Iran. He said (and I agree with him) that the only way to be effective with Iran is to keep the military option on the table, and he admonished many Jewish organizations who remain silent about this. He also spoke support of the democracy project in these Muslim nations. He believes that democracy is ultimately the answer, since no democracy is a threat to the world.
Afterwards, I privately approached Mr. Abrams. I said to him "Mr. Abrams, respectfully, how can you say that democracy is the answer, when in Egypt, if there were fair elections, the Muslim Brotherhood would be elected TOMORROW? And the same is true in most of the Muslim world. Democracy? What about Indonesia, where the "democratically" elected president said the Holocaust never happened? What about Iraq, where it looks likely that there will be sharia law? Islam itself is both a political system and a religion. Isn't THAT the problem?"
His response was basically that Egypt is in the state it is in because Mubarak (president of Egypt) has suppressed all opposition parties, and hence the ONLY choice now is the Muslim Brotherhood. He said democracy is a long term, not immediate solution there. Then he said that the Indonesian PM who denied the Holocaust was, after all, voted OUT. He spoke ultimately a line about optimism. And he did so privately - with no one else nearby to even listen in. In short, this is what he really believes. I also mentioned Sandmonkey (with regards to democracy in Egypt) - and yes, Mr. Abrams has heard of him.
There you have it, folks. An inside track into the mind of a top official in the Bush administration, and my interaction with him. I hope you enjoy this read.
I should say that after the talk with Mr. Abrams, I spoke with a director from the Obsession movie (who attended this event), about radical Islam and the like. It was interesting that he did not know much to anything about India. He also thought Robert Spencer's words were "extremist," but he has read his books.
My next post will be a detailed rendering of my attendance at the US-Indian-Israeli relations event.