By Avinoam Bar-Yosef, MAARIV, September 2, 1994 *

The enormous Jewish influence in Washington is not limited to the
government. In the Washingtonian media a very significant part of the
most important personages and of the presenters of the most popular
programs on the TV are warm Jews. A significant part of senior media
correspondents, newspaper editors and analysts are Jewish and many of
them are warm Jews too. Many of them are influenced in Israel's favor
by attending suitable synagogues. AP's political reporter, Barry
Schweid, and the Washington Posts's education reporter, Amy Schwartz,
regularly participate in a prayer session which is considered to be
close to Israel at the Cleveland Park synagogue. Also there the Israeli
flag is posted proudly above the Sacred Ark. Let us not forget in this
context the Jewish predominance in the Washingtonian academic
institutions. At the National Center of Medicine the percentage of
Jewish researchers is very much higher then their relative percentage
in the population. In the field of security and science, in the film
industry, in art and in literature, the Jewish influence can only be
described as immense, with a corresponding enhancement of the Jewish

Where did they all spring from? In Israel we are already accustomed to
the names of the Jews called Dennis Ross, Dan Kurtzer and Aharon
Miller, since they have taken part in each of the Secretary of State's
visits to the Middle East in the last six years. But that is a
relatively new phenomenon. When Dan Kurtzer, a pious Jew who observes
the Sabbath and all commandments of Judaism, arrived at the American
State Department 18 years ago with a doctorate in Middle East studies,
he was told: "You have all the qualifications to serve in the Middle
East division, but don't even think of suggesting it because of your
Jewish origin." Today he is the boss of those who gave him that piece
of advice, so much had the Jewish power increased meantime. When he
arrived it was the time when the Arabists ruled the State Department
and the few Jews who had infiltrated it preferred to conceal their
Judaism. There were precedents, such as the late Arnold Rapel, who was
a senior deputy of the Secretary of State's assistant for the Middle
East, but his co-workers learned of his faith only when he was buried
in a Jewish ceremony. Dan Kurtzer was the first to announce that he
could not work on Jewish holidays since he observed all the
commandments of Judaism and went to synagogue. Today, when the TV star
Roseanne Arnold announced that she intended to produce a series on
Hanukkah since the Christmas programs are already too numerous, and
when public schools in the U.S. are closed on the first day of the
Jewish New Year, the story about Kirtzer seems very distant.

It happened several weeks ago. The Haiti crisis started to be
accelerating. I phoned the State Department and requested a briefing
from the person in charge of that area. They referred me to Yehuda
Mirsky. I introduced myself to his secretary. Suddenly someone picked
up the receiver and then I heard a voice saying in perfect Israeli
Hebrew: "Good morning, how can I help you?" For a moment I thought that
I had mistakenly dialed the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Where do you
know Hebrew from, and are you an Israeli?" "No, I am American, but I
spent three years, mainly studying the Bible and the Talmud, at the
military "Har Armital in Gush Etzion." Mirsky, like Kurtzer, belongs to
the professionals of the American foreign service.

Another Jewish official who came to the State Department through a
trainees' course is Tom Miller, currently political attache in Athens.
He was previously, among other things, Phillip Habib's assistant in
Lebanon and the Head of the North African desk at the time of the
dialogue with the PLO and then Head of the Israel and the Arab-Israeli
conflict desk. I met Tom when he served as desk head in the
anti-terrorism branch. His interest in Israel began when he was sent to
Israel by his father during the Six Day war to help a family friend who
had immigrated there some time ago. The friend was inducted to the army
and his farm was in need of help. Afterwards Tom Miller spent six
months at Orot collective farm, near Kiryat Malachi. The effect on him
was similar to the influence which his first visit to Israel had on
Rehm Emmanuel. "It was for me a period of euphoria, of great
achievements for the entire Jewish people. It was impossible not to
identify with Israel in the hour of its magnificent victory," he told
me. The second event which left a harsh and life-long impression on him
were the stories about the horrors of the Holocaust. "The Holocaust
creates a sense of a destiny shared by all Jews. The Jews must act to
strengthen Israel so that the Holocaust cannot be repeated," he told me
in another conversation.

Indeed, all the Jews at the top of Clinton Administration, including
Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, firmly believe that the change in the
attitude of American Jewry towards Israel came mainly as the result of
the Six Day War, since that war had first reawakened the Holocaust
memories (3) and then filled them with enormous pride. "It was the Six
Day War which brought the U.S. Jews out of the closet. They had been
there, wielding power and influence in the fields of science and
culture but they were rather distant from Israel," said one of the top
Administration officials, who is very close to Clinton. "The main goal
of our parents' generation was to become part of American society,
perhaps even to become assimilated. It must be remembered that the
Holocaust was also a traumatic event of American Jews. (4) They were
unable to do anything for their brothers who were murdered. The Six Day
War created tremendous identification with Israel among the American
Jews. Its main importance was to create a deep link between the Reform
Judaism, the largest Jewish tendency in America, and Israel."

Today, when there is talk about 51 percent of interfaith marriages, the
danger of assimilation appears to be even greater, yet when examining
the phenomenon from close up one finds that the trend is opposite. More
and more Jewish youngsters seek out the synagogue and Jewish education
which are very good for advancing one's career. It is important that
Israel do its bit in this area. Rehm Emmanuel is a living proof at
that. Three months ago he was married in a Jewish religious ceremony to
Amy, a young woman from a Christian family. She converted to Judaism
and her Jewish name is now Yael. If Rehm had wanted to assimilate, he
would not have married in a religious ceremony.

Dennis Ross, so familiar and so friendly to us, has an even more
amazing personal story. His parents were divorced when he was two years
old. His contact with his father, the son of a cantor from Chicago, was
almost totally severed. Two years later his mother married a Catholic
and moved to California. However, she posed a condition for her new
husband that her children were to have a Jewish education. Dennis grew
up in a Reform Jewish environment and could have easily assimilated
without remaining true to his roots. Although he attended a Reform
Jewish school on Sundays, it was more of a social than a Jewish
experience. But he did not forget and it was Israel which made a warm
Jew of him.

In 1970 he visited Israel for the first time with a group of American
students in that glorious period of victory after the Six Days War. His
connection with Judaism grew stronger ever since. Later he married
Debbie who had had a traditional Jewish education in Jewish history. In
her neighborhood she was very active in the synagogue. At a relatively
mature age Ross began to study Hebrew, opened a prayer book for the
first time and turned the prayer into a regular habit. His Jewish
roots, he proclaimed, were most important to him and influence all his
attitudes. His children follow in his footsteps. Almost every Saturday,
if he is in Washington and is not hopping between Jerusalem, Damascus
and Cairo, he goes to synagogue with his children. His eldest son has
already celebrated his Bar Mitzva, and at the ceremony at the synagogue
the ambassadors of Syria, Israel, Egypt and Jordan sat alongside each

Can Israel really sense that at a distance of thousands of miles away
there is a flourishing Jewish center that not only deeply admires and
supports it, but also feels a shared destiny with it? There is no doubt
about it, especially in the matters concerning its existence.

All the Clinton's Administration officials dealing with Israel: Ross,
Kurtzer, Indyk and Miller being just a sample, may have different views
concerning the desired solution for the Israeli-Arab conflict but they
are warm Jews in whatever they do.

They sometimes disagree among themselves and they sometimes even
disagree with the views of the Israeli governments, first and foremost
since they are Americans and their primary loyalty is towards America.
But they also firmly believe that the shared interests between the two
states are fundamental and permanently enduring. It is because of this
deeply held belief that they made a huge contribution to the fact that
the Clinton Administration has fully adopted their approach on the
issue of relations between the U.S. and Israel. Perhaps because of that
belief they claim that they are upset about the Israeli violations of
human rights in the Territories, and are even more upset when one or
another Israeli minister takes an initiative concerning Iraq which does
not accord with the American line. "If Israel wants American support
for all its interests it also most coordinate its steps with us when
this concerns the basic interests of the U.S.," one of the senior
officials told me this week, following the news of the initiative of
ministers Moshe Shachal and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to add Iraq to the
peace process.

The many Jews in Clinton's Administration have not been created by
design but their large number is not due to chance either. The American
way of life supports the achievers. Despite the previous Jewish
generation wish perhaps to assimilate, it gave its children the best
education and not necessarily only in Jewish religion. It was
especially their achievements and ability which, while preserving their
Jewish roots, brought the present generation of Jews to their present
positions of enormous influence. Dennis Ross, the founder of the theory
of "the confidence building measures" between Israel and the Arab
states, is a typical product of that Jewish generation in America.
Their power might certainly boost the confidence of the Israeli Jews in
the eternity of the Jewish people and dull their sensation of
loneliness among the Arabs.

Incidentally, although the Jewish power in the current Democratic
Administration is huge, there are also many warm Jews heading for the
top positions in the Republican Party. I met Paul Wolfowitz, for
example, who was the senior deputy of the American Defense Secretary in
the Bush Administration in the course of a visit to a Patriot missile
base during the Gulf War. When he was received by the commander of the
base, whose name was emblazoned over his chest, Lieutenant-Colonel
Crimkowitz, his face glowed: "You're Crimkowitz. I'm Wolfowitz. We both
have relatives here." That does not mean that they are all like that.
Even in America there are and will be people with Jewish roots who do
not support Israel, to say the least. Such was the former American
Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger and such is Richard Hass, Martin
Indyk's predecessor on the National Security Council. But now they are
certainly exceptions.

Perhaps the rabbi at Adath Yisrael synagogue intended to compliment
Bill Clinton on his warm attitude towards the Jews and to strengthen
the loyalty of his Administration Jewish officials to America. Rehm
Emmanuel told me that Clinton's proximity to the Jews should be
explained by his love for human beings which he exhibits on every
conceivable occasion. Others mention the Jewish environment during his
studies in university. I would add to that a mixture of various
factors, of which certainly the most important is the great admiration
for Israel he exhibited following the Six Day War. Clinton was also
made conscious by his many Jewish friends about the distressing memory
of the Holocaust, which still haunts the leaders of the U.S. Jewish
community and about its importance for the continual support of Israel
which is obligatory on the U.S.
(3) Needless to say, these "Holocaust Memories" are a fake. The
Israelis were not only not afraid but sure of victory before the Six
Day War and of course Israel faced no real danger during the Gulf War.
On the other hand, when the Israelis were really afraid during the 1973
October War, not of "a Holocaust" but of a stalemate affecting their
interests. The American Jews swallowed all the stories about the
supposed Israeli victory.

(4) Actually it was not a trauma at the time when the Holocaust
happened. The trauma developed much later, when the U.S. Jews acquired
* From THE HEBREW PRESS, monthly translations and commentaries from
Israel, by Dr. Israel Shahak, published monthly by the Middle East Data
Center, P.O. Box 337, Woodbridge, VA 22194-0337. Reprinted courtesy THE
CHRISTIAN NEWS, October 24, 1994, page 22, 3277 Boeuf Lutheran Rd., New
Haven, MO 63068-9568.

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