by Jim Lobe
Outgoing Anti-Defamation League president Abraham Foxman had a gift for sniffing out anti-Semitism, particularly if it took the form of criticism of Israel, and it will be difficult to fill his shoes in that regard. And while a number of well-known and prominent members of the Jewish community are reported to be in the running to succeed him, I wonder if Elliott Abrams may be gunning for the job.
Of course, it was Abrams, George W. Bush’s top Middle East aide and habitual defender of murderous (even genocidal in the case of Guatemala) right-wing forces and armies in Central America under Ronald Reagan (not to mention his felonious role in the Iran-Contra affair), who publicly exposed Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel as an anti-Semite, not once but twice, as part of an unsuccessful bid by hard-line neoconservatives to sabotage his confirmation as defense secretary. The libel was so disgusting that Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, where Abrams has been Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies (much to the discomfort of many CFR members) since 2009, felt compelled to explicitly denounce it as “over the line,” “preposterous,” and “beyond the pale.”
Now Abrams has found a new target: the British royal family. Here’s what he posted on his “Pressure Points” blog Wednesday beneath a photograph of Prince Charles decked out in Saudi dress while visiting King Abdullah earlier this week:
The heir to the British throne is shown in this photo during a “private visit” to Saudi Arabia. Such a visit is entirely appropriate, but it is a reminder that the British royals appear to have an allergy to visiting Israel. The Queen has never set foot there. Prince Charles did attend the Rabin funeral, but has never gone back and never made an official visit. Such a visit is occasionally hinted at or predicted, but then never gets scheduled. The continuing failure or refusal of any royal to make an official or state visit to Israel is an anomaly that suggests bias, and undermines potential British influence in the region.
It may very well be that the royals, like some (perhaps many) other snooty upper-class Brits, may harbor some prejudices against Jews and/or Israel, although Charles’s attendance at Rabin’s funeral in 1995 seems to undermine Abrams’ case somewhat. But, as the royals have no known policy-making role, does this really make a big difference in the grand scheme of things? Would the UK really wield greater influence in the Middle East if it sent the royal family to Israel? And what should we conclude if no royal has ever visited the West Bank or Gaza? That they’re biased against Palestinians?
I do hope the British Foreign Office asks Haass to explain this bizarre post that appears on his august organization’s website.