Poor Gov. Chris Christie, he can’t catch a break.
First, in spite of denials, both humble and bellicose, no one but the most loyal of sycophants believe he had nothing to do with the September 2013 closure of Fort Lee, N.J., traffic lanes that approach the George Washington Bridge.
Last month, having been “cleared” of wrongdoing, he flew off to Las Vegas to convene with Sheldon Adelson and the Republication Jewish Coalition, and flew into a firestorm. A firestorm because he inadvertently became a truth-teller. A firestorm of controversy because he referred to the Israeli-occupied West Bank as the “occupied territories.” A firestorm because he inadvertently affirmed American foreign policy that has prevailed since 1967: that the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Syria’s Golan Heights are occupied territories.
It’s not just American policy, it’s United Nations policy, European policy, Asian policy and, with the possible exception of Micronesia and Costa Rica, a policy adhered to by all other counties in the world.
Period. They’re not disputed territories. They’re occupied.
And for his sin of recognizing American policy he was humbled, forced to re-kiss his benefactor’s ring, reaffirm fealty to the lord of the manor and ask for forgiveness from one of the world’s 10 richest men — all for being a truth teller!
For being a truth-teller, Christie got swept into Adelson’s America-First versus Israel-First choice — and got burned.
In a mea culpa to Adelson, according to POLITICO, Christie “clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy.” Instead, the source said, Christie made clear “that he misspoke when he referred to the ‘occupied territories.'”
Christie’s mea culpa wasn’t good enough for Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who said anyone who believes that the territories are occupied “either doesn’t understand the issue at all, or he’s hostile to Israel.”
It seems that, according to Adelson and Klein, the price of becoming president is not about who would best protect our democracy. It’s about who would best deny Palestinians’ rights in their own lands. It’s about insisting that anyone they support will reject decades of American policy and endorse a Greater Israel policy that denies all Palestinian rights.
It seems that our democracy is for sale and that to fulfill ambitions some politicians are willing to enter Gomorrah — to sacrifice the good on an altar where ambition greed and deceit is venerated.
Adelson invited potential candidates during the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Adelson-owned luxury hotel and casino, the Venetian Las Vegas. Adelson’s demands of his visitors, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and John Kasich, were simple: Agree to sustain his profits and power. Agree to oppose online gambling and support his vision of Greater Israel and denial of Palestinian rights and sovereignty — regardless of U.S. policy — and he might anoint you.
Simple. Sell your soul.
Adelson’s loyalties are clear. He said in 2010, “I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform…”
The petitioners who dutifully paraded in Las Vegas, begging cups in hand, for a share of Adelson’s gambling profits and his blessing should hang their heads in shame. While there is room for disagreement on which direction America should turn in the next election, it shouldn’t turn on an America-First versus Israel-First choice.
In the days following Christie’s truth-telling, I listened to a lot of cable TV — including six mostly painful hours of MSNBC and a couple on Fox — equally painful. Not once (although I did have to take a couple of sanity breaks), in all the commentary about Christie’s faux pas and what it might mean to his presidential ambitions, did anyone mention that Christie told the truth.
Not once did anyone give him credit for recognizing American foreign policy. Not once did anyone question whether it’s good for America to have a candidate supported by someone who appears to value loyalty to Israel above loyalty to America.
I wonder how conservatives, Republicans and tea-partiers, most of whom define themselves as extremely patriotic and loyal and based in traditional family values, would react if a Democratic candidate had a supporter, American by birth, who made his money on gambling and its associated activities and whose corporation in 2012 came under three different investigations from the FBI, Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an anti-bribery statute.
Certainly, they would demand that money be returned immediately — and ties severed with the supporter, as they did in 2008 when candidate Barack Obama was forced to sever ties with two highly respected scholars, Rashid Khalide and Robert Malley, simply because their views were not acceptable to Obama’s pro-Israel supporters.
I believe elections should be driven by truth and I believe that U.S. Palestine-Israel policy should be guided by American interests rather than by Israeli interests. Yes, consider me naive to believe that America-First should be a consideration for our candidates — that I would like our democracy supported by someone who didn’t believe that serving in America’s military was an unfortunate second choice.
Poor Gov. Chris Christie. He just found out that what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.