August 16, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 118

They are all Liebermans; Reactions in the Arab Media to Lieberman's Nomination

August 16, 2000
Palestine, Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 118

Al Gore's selection of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his vice-presidential candidate provoked different reactions in the Arab media. The official response was that "This is a matter of internal American politics," and "It does not harm Arab interests" and therefore it is of no concern.They are all Liebermans; Reactions in the Arab Media to Lieberman's Nomination However, many journalists and commentators could not react to this event with indifference and expressed agitation and deep concerns.

Concerns About Increased U.S. Support to Israel

Many articles expressed concern that the nomination of a Jewish candidate to such a high-ranking position could result in increased U.S. support for Israel at the Arabs' expense. Hani Habib, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam considered the Democratic candidate for the presidency and his running mate: "Both are Israelis, [the only difference is that] one of them is also a Jew."[1] An op-ed in the London based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi warned that, "The Arabs are going to a face harsh period because of Lieberman's zealous support of the Hebrew state and his hostility towards the Arabs. Therefore, we should anticipate an American policy that will be even more antagonistic to the Arab governments."[2]

In the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, Maher Uthman anticipates a severe deterioration in American attitudes towards Arabs: "We must tell the Americans: it is your own business whether your president or vice-president is Greek, Chinese, Buddhist, Jewish, or Catholic - a male or a female. However, if you announce, by words or actions that your neutrality… is over, and is replaced with a preference for Israel, this will mean that you have announced a war against the Arab rights to their lands."[3]

U.S. Cannot Support Israel More Than it Does

Other columnists considered Lieberman's nomination an insignificant matter, claiming that all the presidents of the US, from both parties, "Are allies of the Jews in any case."[4] Therefore, the nomination of a Jew to this position will not cause any major change in U.S. policy in the Middle East, "Because in all that regards Israel, they are all Liebermans, even though they are not Jews."

The same position was also expressed in an editorial in the Egyptian governemnt daily Al-Akhbar. The editorial stated: "The reason we think little of a Jew's candidacy for U.S. Vice-President is the fact that all [former] US presidents loved and supported the Jews more than the Jews [loved and supported] themselves. What then is the worry and what would be new about the nomination of a Jew to the position of Vice-President?… Al Gore loves the Jews more than the Jews love themselves."[5]

Religion is Not the Issue

Many articles emphasized that the reservations regarding Lieberman's nomination are not about his religious affiliation, but rather about his pro-Israel actions and statements. An editorial in the PA daily Al-Quds stated: "[Although there is] the possibility that Gore and Lieberman's success will, for the first time, place a Jewish American in the position right next to the only world power's decision making [center] – the real problem here is not Lieberman's religion… but rather his absolute support for Israel, even when Israel's Prime Minister was Netanyahu."[6]

Jihad Al-Khazen, columnist and former editor of the daily Al-Hayat, urged the Arabs "not to judge Lieberman on the basis of his religion but on his words and deeds…since it is irrelevant whether the candidate is Jewish or Buddhist. The important issue is his political positions." Based on this rationale, Al-Khazen reviews Lieberman's positions. He supported the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem. He called on the Arabs to end their economic boycott on Israel and was among the members of Congress who signed petitions and demanded that the American administration pressure the Arab countries in this regard. He demanded that the Arabs establish diplomatic relations with Israel, in spite of [Israel's] occupation of [Arab] lands and was among the Senate members who threatened to end the American support to the Palestinian Authority if Arafat unilaterally declares an independent Palestinian state.[7] In light of all this, Al-Khazen argues in another editorial that "The Vice-President's political history provides enough evidence of his enmity towards the Arabs to attack him on it and there is no need to attack him for his religion."[8]

The Influence of the Jewish Lobby in America

In analyzing Gore's selection of Lieberman, Arab commentators discussed internal American considerationsThey are all Liebermans; Reactions in the Arab Media to Lieberman's Nomination but focused on the status of the Jews in the United States versus the political inferiority of Arabs in the U.S. Jalal Duweidar, the editor of the Egyptian government paper Al-Akhbar, expressed this view: "The United States is now passing from the stage of indirect Judaisation to the stage of direct and open Judaisation." In an op-ed titled the "Judaisation of America," Duweidar sees Lieberman's selection as a further step in the Jewish lobby's take-over of high-ranking positions in the U.S. government. He writes: "In this decision Al Gore revealed his ugly face, closing the circle of submission begun by Clinton when he gave all the important strategic positions in his administration to American Jews… in this decision Gore declares that he has completely sold himself to Israel and the Jewish lobby in the hope that they will support him in his campaign to reach the White House."[9]

An editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi stresses the Arab political inferiority in America as the primary factor that made Gore's decision possible, "We do not believe that Al Gore thought much about the Arabs or of their reactions when he decided to select Joseph Lieberman and he was absolutely right in doing so because the Arabs are the only nation in the world that is tied to the US in a vassal relationship and not in an alliance… Gore, like Clinton, has the Arabs in his pocket and is not worried about them at all."[10]

Lieberman is also described as "the only person who can collect from the Jews the donations needed for Gore's campaign and operate the media, which is controlled by the Jews, in Gore's favor."[11]

In another op-ed, the paper continues, stating: "…in view of the Arab [political] inferiority there is no difference between Lieberman and Cheney nor between Gore and Bush. At the end of the day they are all Liebermans."[12]

Conspiracy Theories

With the discussion of the Jewish lobby's influence, anti-Semitic canards about Jewish plots and ambitions for world domination re-emerged. Abbas Al-Tarabili, the editor of the Egyptian opposition paper Al-Wafd, wrote an op-ed titled "The Zionist Scenario to take control of the World: A Jew in the White House." He wrote: "The goal of international Zionism is to rule the world. By having one of them enter the White House and rule America, he will become the master of the whole world. Therefore if Gore and Lieberman succeed the road will be paved for the realization of the Zionist dream: instead of having American ruled by a man who supports Israel, have the President of the U.S. himself be a Zionist Jew whose entire loyalty is not to the American people but rather to the Zionist way and to the Jewish people."

Al-Tarabili forecasts that: "With the Jewish vote, the Gore-Lieberman team will continue the rule of the Democratic Party in America. Then, after a longer or shorter period, through "The Angel of Death" or otherwise, Gore will die or be removed and suddenly America will find itself with his Zionist deputy Lieberman as master of the White House and President of America, the greatest country in the world."

"However," continues Al-Tarabili, "Even if affairs remain in their natural state and no bullet is sent to end Al Gore's life… Lieberman has already opened the way for himself and for other Jews to enter the White House… as masters of America and the world."

"We do not intervene in American politics, nor are we able to do so… however we can warn of what will happen if a Jew in his religion and a Zionist in his convictions reaches the center of government in the White House under the banner of Vice President and then under the banner of President. [Imagine] if Israel rose up and flourished while America is ruled by Presidents who support it, what will be the situation when the master of the White House himself is a pure Zionist Jew? In that case, Israel will be able to realize its dream and the dream of international Zionism: a state of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates."[13]

[I] For example, Yasser Arafat stated that: "These are internal matters in which we are not getting involved." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA) August 9, 2000. Similar reactions were voiced in Egypt as well: Usama Al-Baz, political advisor to the Egyptian President, noted that "Lieberman's nomination to this post is not a negative [phenomenon]… Lieberman never adopted positions that were hostile to the Arabs or the Palestinians and he is a friend of Egypt."

[II] Among the American political factors discussed by Arab pundits was Lieberman's criticism of Clinton's behavior during the Lewinsky affair.

[1] Al-Ayyam (PA) August 9, 2000.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 9, 2000.

[3] Al-Hayat (London), August 10, 2000.

[4] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), August 9, 2000.

[5] According to Abd Al-Wahab Bdarhan in Al-Hayat, August 13, 2000.

[6] Al-Quds, August 9, 2000.

[7] Al-Hayat, August 10, 2000

[8] Al-Hayat, August 12, 2000

[9] Al-Akhbar, August 9, 2000.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 9, 2000

[11] Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 14, 2000

[12] Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 14, 2000.

[13] Al-Wafd (Egypt), August 9, 2000. Jihad Al-Khazen, columnist and former editor of the daily Al-Hayat, also discussed the conspiracy theory: "24 hours after Lieberman's selection as candidate for Vice Pesident an Arab friend told me that Gore and Lieberman will defeat Bush and Cheney and within six months of taking his office, the Jews will kill Gore and Lieberman will become president." However, Al-Khazen expressed reservations about this theory, asserting that nothing of the kind will happen. Al-Hayat, August 12, 2000.

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