Saturday, January 28, 2017

 

Fulbright & the Israel Lobby


On October 7, 1973, the day after Egypt and Syria launched the Yom Kippur War against Israel, J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, appeared on the television program Face the Nation. Fulbright biographer Woods states:
He called for the United Nations to intervene, militarily if necessary, to end the bloodshed and impose a peace settlement. "They should take action, they should meet the legitimate security requirements of Israel — and at the same time approach as closely as possible the principles of the resolution of '67," he told George Herman. Asked by Peter Lisagor if it would not be best if the United States and the Soviet Union simply agreed to stop supplying their client states in the Middle East, Fulbright assented but declared that that would never happen "because the Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate."[1][2]
As if to prove Fulbright's point, the Israel Lobby mobilized to replace him for publicly highlighting their political power: "Following Fulbright's October appearance on Face the Nation ... American Jewish leaders had begun actively soliciting candidates, Democratic or Republican, to oppose their nemesis in the 1974 election ... American Zionists ... pinned their hope on Dale Bumpers."[3]

The Lobby relies on more than mere "hope".
Fulbright's positions on the Middle East have not endeared him to American Zionists who have, according to Fulbright money raisers, declined to contribute "a single dime" to his campaign.

But a Bumpers' lieutenant, whipping his gray Lincoln down Highway. 40, confided to a reporter that he had many offers of donations from American Jews who would like to see the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee unseated.

"I could have bought the central part of Arkansas with it [offers of money from the Jewish community]. But I politely explained that the surest way to beat Bumpers would be to have him tagged a Jewish candidate. But the Jews are obviously very unhappy with Fulbright, starting with Golda Meir."

"The offers of assistance," he said, "came from people in New York and California who have raised a lot of money in the Jewish community for political purposes." He declined to name them.[4]
The Lobby's efforts paid off when Bumpers defeated Fulbright in the 1974 Democratic primary and proceeded to handily win the general election.

Notes
1. Randall Bennett Woods, Fulbright: A Biography (Cambridge UP, 1995), p. 648 citing Face the Nation, Oct. 7, 1973, Series 48:15, Box 41:1, SPF.
2. Smith puts a finer point on Fulbright's remarks, paraphrasing from the transcript, he writes: "Fulbright accused the Israeli lobby of having the ear of up to eighty United States senators, as well as a large percentage of the House of Representatives. Because of the power and influence of the lobby, Israel enjoyed unparalleled and unquestioned American military and economic aid." Mitchell Smith, "Woes of the Arkansas Internationalist: J. William Fulbright, the Middle East, and the Death of American Liberalism" (2013), Theses and Dissertations, 773. p. 61.
3. Woods, p. 659 citing inter alia "Jewish Leaders Seek '74 Opponents for Fulbright, " Arkansas Democrat, Oct. 19, 1973.
4. Harry Kelly, "Arkansas race: Running hard, but Fulbright looks like loser", Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1974, sect. 2, p. 1. See also Woods, p. 661, 665, and Smith, ch. 3.

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