Classic Essays

Citizen Dinitz

dinitz_simchaBenjamin Netanyahu’s end-run around protocol to lobby Congress directly for Israel is nothing new, as this Instauration article reveals.

LET US COMPARE the reactions of two U.S. presidents to similar cases of interference into American domestic politics by two foreign envoys. (ILLUSTRATION: Simcha Dinitz)

In 1793, when France and England were at war, President Washington issued a proclamation of neutrality. Shortly thereafter the diplomatic representative of the French revolutionary government, “Citizen” Genet, arrived in the U.S. By the concerted efforts of Thomas Jefferson’s pro-French war party, he was given a red carpet treatment rare in the annals of American international relations. Washington, on the other hand, welcomed the Jacobin emissary with stiff formality. This did not please Genet, a tough hombre from a tough government which had just cut off the head of France’s king and was preparing to decapitate the queen. At the urging of his backers he went over the head of the President to the Congress and to the “people.” He issued manifestos, organized propaganda hate fests, secretly tried to turn American ports into supply depots for French privateers, and even dabbled in a plot to overthrow our nine-year-old government. When all this came to light, Washington ordered the French government to recall its preposterous ambassador.

More recently, Simcha Dinitz, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, at a convention of B’nai B’rith women went far beyond the bounds of diplomatic protocol — and good manners — by openly criticizing the Ford administration for supporting the sale of six C-130 military transports to Egypt — not bombers or fighter planes, mind you, merely six large transport planes, together with a few helicopters and some electronic equipment.

As the Associated Press report stated: “Dinitz’s speech marked an escalation of his government’s attempt to pressure the Ford administration into pulling back from the Egyptian arms arrangement … State Department officials had mixed reactions, some saying it was dangerously close to interference with American domestic matters.”

In so many words Dinitz was urging his listeners to lobby the government and Congress to overturn the agreement. This is not the first time he has threatened to cash in the IOU’s of American politicians to Jewish financial supporters in order to force Congress and the White House to pursue a foreign policy more to Israel’s liking. During the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Dinitz warned the State and Defense Departments he would go directly to Congress if more and more military aid was not immediately forthcoming. The two “Singers,” Schles and Kis, resonated genetically and quickly caved in. In March of this year Dinitz issued another warning to the government when William Scranton, the new U.S. Ambassador to the UN, made a statement on the Mideast that was not rabidly pro-Zionist. Scranton had just replaced the Zionist mouthpiece, Patrick Moynihan, an ex-bartender who still acted like a bartender in order to prepare for a political career in New York or to return to the plaudits of the Harvard faculty. Scranton was the butt of so much criticism that he partially “redeemed himself” a few days later when he vetoed a UN resolution against Israel.

1-edmond-genet-1763-1834-granger
Edmond Genet

Like most of his affluent racial cousins, Dinitz holds his winter court in Miami Beach. There, just before the Florida primary, he summoned Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer, to one of those glittering $250,000 beachfront condominiums where, to quote an undiscovered poet, “neon palms illuminate Jews in Cadillacs rushing their peroxide blondes to dog tracks.” Jimmy, according to the Miami Herald, listened intently to what Dinitz had to say and when he emerged from his audience announced his “total support of Israel.” He also promised that he would continue to “consult” Dinitz. It was just about as humiliating a performance as George McGovern’s public kowtowing in the 1972 presidential campaign to assorted Jewish leaders in New York. “Just tell me what to do,” he pleaded desperately. This was too much even for the New York Times.

When Citizen Genet came to America he sported the tricolor hat of the French revolution. Jimmy Carter, after his audience with Citizen Dinitz, donned a yarmulke and addressed a Jewish fund-raising group.

They say history repeats. It didn’t in this case. Citizen Genet was given his walking papers. Citizen Dinitz still remains our unofficial Assistant Secretary of State for Mideastern Affairs.

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Source: Instauration, June 1976

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