The New Watergate?
The Forward (NY) - January 15, 1999 - Editorial
It has taken a little more than a month for the concerns to be
realized regarding the emergence of three Clinton allies in the camp of
the Labor Party candidate for prime minister of Israel, . News
that James Carville, Robert Shrum and Stanley Greenberg were signing up
with Mr. Barak first started raising eyebrows in December.
mysterious Capitol Hill break-in and the furor over Jonathan Pollard
have brought these concerns to the forefront. Already, those partial to
the Labor Party are comparing the robbery at Mr. Greenberg's Washington
offices to Watergate. Mr. Greenberg's camp is saying that the burglars
took only files relating to international clients.
With regard to
Pollard, Mr. Barak had been expected to join Prime Minister Netanyahu in
a joint letter calling upon President Clinton to agree to the release of
the jailed spy. Now Mr. Barak is backing away from the letter, and the
Pollard camp is blaming that on the advice of Mr. Carville. After
all, it wouldn't look good for Mr. Clinton to have to rebuff the call
of an ally during an election fight.
Defenders of Mr. Barak maintain
that the candidate has not changed his position on Pollard, that he
still wants to see Pollard freed. They say that Mr. Barak feared being
trapped into conceding a political advantage to Mr. Netanyahu.
so, but the broader point remains. With one of Mr. Clinton's most
important defenders, Mr. Carville, orchestrating the campaign of a
challenger to Mr. Netanyahu, every campaign tactic is worthy of
It was bad enough in 1996 when the American ambassador to
Israel at the time, Martin Indyk, dispensed with diplomatic
professionalism and all but endorsed the incumbent, Shimon Peres,
against the Likud. Now America has much more power to influence the
course of events in Israel. The administration is threatening to
withhold aid that was promised at the time of the Wye agreement. The
Central Intelligence Agency is playing a dangerous new role in the
security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.
How difficult would it be for the administration to shade events in such a
way as to help the campaign of Mr. Barak? Is it possible that Mr.
Carville, who only last month on "Meet the Press" declared war on
Republican opponents in Washington, won't seek to use his connections
with the president to gain advantage in the election?
well be on the up-and-up on both sides. But if the events of this week
suggest anything, it looks like Mr. Clinton is playing a game that in
the end will damage long-term relations between America and the only
democracy in the Middle East.