By: Joseph Sturm  | 

From the Editor’s Desk: Perfidy and Paranoia

“The administration has acted as if Israel is a strategic lability. Unlike past administrations it has been moving military hardware and some American servicemen to Arab countries, without informing Israel. Instead of treating Israel as a friend, the administration has undercut America’s commitment to Israel.” The above statement was not uttered, as one might guess, by Daniel Moynihan, Henry Jackson, or William Safire in railing against Reagan’s AWACS sale. Ironically enough, it was said by Ronald Reagan himself during the 1980 presidential race.

“Indeed, throughout ‘the campaign, and, in particular, during an address to the B’nai B’rith Forum in Washington, D.C. on September 3, 1980, Ronald Reagan left the indisputable impression that he was a strong Israel supporter — in all implications of the term. Said he, “In defending Israel's right to exist we defend the very values on which our nation is built,” and “to weaken Israel is to destabilize the Middle East and risk the peace of the world.”

Yet the increasing contrast between his campaign rhetoric and his presidential actions cannot but leave one transfixed as to the extent of Ronald Reagan’s perfidy and hypocrisy. For example:

  • On the F-15 enhancement package: During the campaign, candidate Reagan censured Carter for attempting to renege on a promise not to enhance the F-15s sold to Saudi Arabia. Reagan maintained, “that the equipment would give the Saudi Arabians the offensive capability to bomb heavily any target in Israel.” Now President Reagan reneged in that commitment himself, and wrote in a letter to the Senate during the pre-AWACS vote finagling, that the F-15 enhancement “will pose no threat to Israel.” 

  • On the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor: In a position paper before the election Ronald Reagan criticized Carter who “has taken virtually no action to try and stop the transfer of nuclear weapons to Iraq.” While in office, however, the President temporarily suspended arms shipments to Israel, since Iraq only had peaceful intentions
  • On Saudi Arabia: In 1980 Candidate Reagan wrote, “Israel does not depend on survival of autocratic and capricious rulers. It is perhaps the only remaining strategic asset in the region, on which the U.S. can rely: other pro-Western states in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, are weak and vulnerable.” Thus, logically, when elected, Reagan proceeds to trust the feudal sheikdom with $8 billion of the latest secret U.S. armaments. 

Cynics may say, as Machiavelli once said that one of the keys to power is fraud, and Reagan’s fraud of the Jews is but another example of this principle. Yet for the Jews, and especially for the YU students who supported, voted, and screamed for candidate Reagan, the perfidy is particularly painful. For it seems that the sincerity of Reagan’s commitments to us is inversely proportional to our reliance upon them. That we should eye Reagan warily in the future is unquestionable. And, though it may seem silly to revert to traditional Jewish paranoia, it is important to remember that just because you are paranoid it does not mean that they are not out to get you.