Pardons Flap Exposes Harm of Close Relationship with Israel
There were many Arabs and Muslims who have long argued that the Clinton White House was disproportionately influenced by Israel. Today, anyone who has been following the latest Clinton scandal is likely to agree. Indeed, such a belief is no longer uttered by Arab conspiracy theorists, but is now the hottest news topic, even in the American mainstream media.
Major US news agencies and publications offered a full and detailed narration of Israel's role that ultimately led to the pardoning of convicted criminal Marc Rich. Details of letters sent by Israel's top officials and leaders of the Jewish community around the world were also available in abundance.
Rich, a Belgian-born financier fled the US in 1983 after evading $48 million in taxes. A fugitive from justice, Rich was later indicted by a New York court for other crimes ranging from theft to fraud to money laundering.
But his crimes were of no significance to the Israeli government and the powerful and influential Jewish American community. Undoubtedly these people took advantage of their cozy relationship with the Clinton's to demand Rich's pardon.
Jews spoke of him as though he were not a criminal, but a great philanthropist.
"Over the past twenty years, through his foundation, he has donated over $10,000,000 to educational, cultural and social welfare programs. These programs included resettlement aid for (Jewish) Ethiopian immigrants to Israel," wrote Abraham Foxman, the head of one of the US' most influential Jewish lobbies, The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a letter to Clinton on Dec. 07, 2000.
Former head of the Mossad, Shabati Shavit pleaded to Clinton one week before Foxman, using a similar approach.
"We requested his assistance in looking for MIA's (soldiers missing in action) and for help to rescue and evacuate Jews from enemy countries... Israel and the Jewish people are very grateful for those unselfish actions," Shavit wrote.
The letters, telephone calls and personal meetings to win a presidential pardon kept coming in. Dozens more, including outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, former Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman, and Chief Rabbi of France Rene Sirat also urged the former president to pardon Rich.
Perhaps these powerful and influential Jews were interested in Rich's case because his contributions to Israel exceeded $21 million, much of which was poured into the building of Jerusalem's illegal settlements.
But not long after the Marc Rich pardon was exposed, the Clinton's tightly bundled secrets and lies soon unraveled, unveiling a long list of other questionable pardons and unethical, possibly illegal actions.
Shortly thereafter, the pardon flap spilled over onto his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, raising questions about her successful bid for a New York Senate seat.
The investigation is now expected to examine whether Clinton pardoned four men in exchange for votes from the Hasidic Jewish community in Rockland County for his wife's Senate campaign last fall.
Mrs. Clinton, who returned donations by honest Muslim American organizations, now stands accused of being involved in the pardon of these Jews, convicted of stealing millions in government funds.
These four Hasidic Jews, among other things, defrauded the federal government of more than $30 million. Now their attorney has lashed back at the probe, saying it has undertones of "anti-Semitism".
Meanwhile, America's Muslims have helplessly watched as their brethren continue to languish in U.S. jails by trumped-up "evidence" they have not even had the right to see.
These Muslim activists, victims of Washington's influential lobby groups, are battling the notorious secret evidence law, which denies them a fair trial or due process.
But this bitter irony is not lost among America's Muslim community. Perhaps now the rest of America will listen when they speak about the detriment of having such a close relationship with Israel.
Ramzy Baroud is a weekly columnist for iviews.com.
Topics: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Judaism, Occupation