Bintel Blog

The Wolfowitz Scandal's Real Lesson: He's No Likudnik

By Ami Eden

  • Print
  • Share Share

Maybe Paul Wolfowitz deserved to get pushed out at the World Bank for helping his girlfriend get a new job and a hefty pay raise. At the same time, though, his critics should at least have the decency to admit that the latest scandal disproves the popular (and unfair) claim that Wolfowitz is a neocon-Likudnik whose main goal in pushing for war in Iraq was to help Israel.

How many Likudniks do you know with a “companion” named Shaha Ali Riza?

Whatever you want to say about Wolfowitz, there appears to be nothing cynical or phony about his belief that American military and diplomatic action could let loose a wave of Democratic reforms in the Islamic world that would improve the lives of the Muslim masses.

And it’s not just the Muslim girlfriend.

In April 2002, at the height of the current intifada, with Israel under attack, he stood in front of a right-leaning pro-Israel rally in Washington and drew boos for declaring that “innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well. It is critical that we recognize and acknowledge that fact.” In an October 2003 speech, he warned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was hurting America’s standing in the Middle East and could only be resolved through “political means,” spoke well of the Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, and praised Israeli and Arab leaders who have made land-for-peace deals, including Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan. (Hard to imagine Doug Feith or Richard Perle talking like that.)

And then there was the 1989 farewell speech that Wolfowitz gave at the end of his tenure as America’s ambassador to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. “If greater openness is a key to economic success, I believe there is increasingly a need for openness in the political sphere as well,” Wolfowitz said. Some observers have argued (here for instance) that the comment buoyed the reform movement that eventually brought down President Suharto — and it’s not hard to connect the dots between Wolfowitz’s conclusions about Indonesia and the view that Muslims deserve better than the usual choice in the Middle East between monarchs and strongmen.

Finally, of course, his decision to go to the World Bank suggests a universalist urge to improve the world, rather than a dedication to advancing Aipac talking points.

Wolfowitz may be arrogant, naïve and incompetent — but he’s not Jerusalem’s lackey.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Neocons, Paul Wolfowitz, Shaha Ali Riza

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.