I am a volunteer supporting Ross Perot for president. Like many volunteers, including Perot himself, I am drawn to action as we face a crucial moment in our nation’s history.
Perot’s emergence this year as a presidential option climaxed years of effort of individual Americans, many in our Jewish community, who have yearned for a candidate whose support we don’t have to buy.
For years, we have witnessed elections replete with promises from both Democratic and Republican candidates who are eager to sit in our parlor rooms and take the donations we would otherwise send to hungry immigrants in Israel.
They know that every photograph in the newspaper showing them wearing a kippah, every speech with a Yiddish word in it, means 50 volunteers who fuel the machines that get them elected.
Yet, for every success like Operation Solomon, there are many more events of particular distaste to our community.
One could cite countless examples: the bipartisan condemnation of Israel’s 1981 air strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility and the sanctions that followed, Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Nazi military cemetery at Bitburg, the baiting of the Jewish lobby by George Bush, the intercession on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization by Jimmy Carter, the heavy financial influence in Bill Clinton’s political career by BCCI magnate Jackson Stevens, the failure of both political parties to break the Arab economic embargo and the selling out of Israel in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War.
Why does this occur? The three reasons most often cited for undermining this historic relationship are anti-Semitism, ignorance and money. Is Bush an anti- Semite? No. Is Carter a fool? Of course not.
How many people have contributed large amounts to a campaign only to be disappointed by that elected official on policy toward Israel and, might I add, the Jewish community? I went to an AIPAC meeting following the Persian Gulf War. The feeling of Jewish influence on Capitol Hill was euphoric. We hooted and hollered, ever eager to show our true loyalties by waving flags as Colin Powell spoke. We are so eager to please.
Yet, were we really shocked when both parties abandoned Israel’s request for loan guarantees? Why was that? Because there will always be deeper pockets than ours. There will always be a greater lobbying effort against Israel’s interests than for it.
The United States is the penultimate special interest group for Israel – because the United States holds the purse strings.
Those of us who chafe when we hear this can understand why Perot loathes the reality of our country being oil-dependent on monarchies and dictatorships we have to sacrifice Americans to defend.
Perot’s commitment to our energy self-sufficiency unfettered by powerful lobbying influences speaks for a man who can, and will, keep the promises he makes to our community.
To Perot, Israel is the cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East. He calls its government a beacon to others in the region.
To this end, he contends that the post-Cold War military, diplomatic, and financial support for Israel enhances prospects for democracy in the region. He has long maintained close relations with such senior political officials in Israel as Ariel Sharon and Teddy Kollek.
Perot maintains that successful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict remains vital. He has long had great suspicion, however, of Syrian President Hafez Assad, whom he was openly referring to as a tyrant even before the Persian Gulf War and whose forces were involved in the killing of 250 U.S. Marines in Lebanon and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
Perot sees global nuclear disarmament as a major short-term goal of U.S. foreign policy. He has expressed repeated concern at the Middle Eastern countries who aggressively shop the international nuclear weapons marketplace.
The bottom line is, if you want to know what to expect from a candidate, assess his agenda. Perot is, as a candidate offered by the American people, beholden to no one but us. His commitment to establishing an independent energy policy and to addressing the deficit immediately bodes well for a public wary of the supervision of U.S. Middle East policy by oil interests and the support of the U.S. economy by Arab investment.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our economy is collapsing. We are a resourceful people, and Hashem will always keep us prospering. But when – and I say when – the economy collapses, the have-nots will come looking for the Jew who has. We must pay off our national debt with sincere measures before we go broke and hit our next depression. This is a vital Jewish interest.
We Jews always wish to be popular. Our strength and endurance, however, is a result of our commitment to principle, regardless of its lack of acceptance or the scorn it elicits. This commitment has put us at the forefront of meaningful progress throughout history.
Perot had the courage to not abandon our POWs, his own employees in Iran and the American hostages in Lebanon. His loyalty to Israel is unquestioned. He understands the challenges to Israel’s economic and military security.
Don’t let anyone tell you what voting options we have. That is against all democratic principle. Money doesn’t vote, and polls don’t vote, and pundits have one vote each, as do lobbyists, but so does each of us who reads this. Don’t let anyone seduce you with advisers with Jewish names. We’ve learned our lesson, from Kissinger to Weinberger to Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg.
Everyone wants to be identified with Perot. However, they aren’t and can’t possibly be. He is not brought to us by special-interest money, nor is he driven by a lifelong obsessive, relentless ambition to be king.
What is change? Is it voting for the greater of two lessers, which we do every year? We’ve done that before. Or is it voting with courage for the man whose personal commitments as an American are totally in line with those of every Zionist who reads this, a man unafraid to improve a system that has helped Israel and Jewish America, but has hurt it as well.
This is a moment in time. We will have to live with this decision forever, and I am proud to take the responsibility as a Jew, a Zionist and, yes, an American to vote to elect Ross Perot president of the United States.