Comment On: The Election And Israel (Vol. 39, Issue 3)
Nixon got his four more years and he got it impressively, albeit crookedly. However, the magnitude of his victory and the sheltered race that he ran — leaving the security of the White House only to venture into “secured territory” where vocal political opposition was minimal — may now create for Nixon a dangerous illusion.
Historically, landslide winners have interpreted their victories as public mandates for their plans and policies and as carte blanche approvals for the next four years. For example, Roosevelt expected full public support for his attempts to stack the Supreme Court, and Johnson believed that the American people would follow him all the way into a quagmire named Vietnam. Despite their impressive electoral victories, they were wrong.
Looking beyond the statistics, President Nixon has not won a popular mandate from the American people. He won in a landslide only because his opponent was too busy destroying his own foundations to attack Nixon’s. In short, Nixon won because McGovern lost.
Despite his victory, he is still the same Richard Nixon,Watergate, ITT, Agnew and all. He is the same Nixon who went to China and Russia, reversing his political ideology (thank God) in the name of unborn American generations and political expediency, And he is the same Nixon who may now be performing still another political pirouette preparing to sell South Vietnam and Thieu down the Mckong River. (Isnt this the same Thieu the Nixon women said they were willing to die for?!)
These two Nixon traits — a possible sense of invulnerability because of his landslide win and policy inconsistency — should alarm everyone concerned for Israel’s security to diligently watch for change in U.S. Middle East policy.
Nixon, in his campaign, boasted that his administration gave more aid to Israel than all previous administrations combined. The flow could very well continue. But when dealing with Nixon, every precaution should be taken. Too much is at stake.
There exist several hints that an Administration shift could be possible. With Viet Nam phasing out and Berlin under negotiation, the Middle East remains the major obstacle to Nixon’s “generation of peace,” his place in history, and his Nobel Peace Prize. One month ago, Columnist Jack Anderson reported the State Department was, in fact, gearing up the old and hated Rogers plan.
Furthermore, last month Arab governments in the Middle East won important concessions from American oil companies, who also happen to be contributors to the Republican Party. The Arab
countries will be receiving 20 percent interest in the oil companies Middie East holdings and will take over 51 percent of all oil facilities by 1980. The implications of this change of ownership are serious and were explained recently in the Near East Report.
National oil companies, which operate at the pleasure of the ruling government, must be more responsive to local political, trends than international companies. The new participation agreements could eventually transform oil supply companies into arms of the native governments and mechanisms of their national policy. When that policy is anti-Israel in nature, U.S. policy could come under pressure.
For the sake of U.S. security, U.S. policy could change very quickly.
In this season of paying-off political campaign debts, Nixon has the choice of repaying the Jews for their votes or the oil companies for their millions. Few will be surprised by his choice. And, of course, since Nixon is a second term president, there is no way of applying pressure in the reverse direction.
Of necessity, therefore, the protection of the interests of the Jews and Israel may eventually have to rest on Congress. The opportunity for influencing Congress is greater simply because of frequent elections.
How does the new Congress look on Israel? More or less, it will keep its pro-Israel posture, but there could be some changes. Now, after the election, Congressmen’s political motives are missing.
In the Senate, while non-friends Smith (Me.), Ellender (La.) and Cooper (Ky.) will be gone, Mark Hatfield (Ore.) will be returning for another six years to help William Fulbright and the Arab cause. In addition, the election of half-Lebanese James Abourezk (S. Dak.) could give Arabists another champion in the Senate.
In the House, the important changes are the loss of several Jewish congressmen who were always reliable on Jewish and Israel issues. Among these are Abner Mikva (Ill), Seymour Halpern (N.Y.), and Emanuel Celler (N.Y.). One or two other Jews will be entering the House, but it will certainly be impossible for them ‘to have the same influence as someone like Celler.