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February 18, 2011

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PAGE 22A Harman From page 1A Harman's departure, which will come in a few weeks but was made official Jan. 8, sig- naled the precarious position of the Democratic Party's center. Harman is in the Blue Dog caucus, representing the party's more conservative wing. The caucus was gut- ted in the last election when Republicans, in a winning strategy, targeted Democrats in conservative districts. Democrats are now lean- ing further left, and the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives has not shown much interest in bi- partisanship, leaving the Blue Dog rump--used to being the much-valued bridge between the parties--in the cold. One signal of the dirfiinishment of conservative Democrats was the announcement last week that the Democratic Leader- ship Council, the centristbody that once was a powerhouse in the party, is closing down due to a lack of interest. Harman, who is married to Newsweek owner and philan- thropist Sidney Harman, was a leadership council member. Harman's more conserva- tive tendencies have been apparent in fiscal'and foreign policy. On social issues-- abortion, gay rights and women's rights--she has been an unabashed liberal, scoring high marks from the National Council of Jewish Women. In 1998, Harman interrupt- ed her congressional career, launched six years earlier, to run for California governor as the self-described "best Re- publican" among Democrats, pledging a balanced budget. She IQst to Gray Davis and returned to Congress in 2000. In that setting, her hard- line reputation was made in foreign policy. She backed the Iraq war, and as the ranking Democrat on the House Intel- ligence Committee, backed the expanded eavesdropping powers used by the Bush administration. Alberto Gon- zales, the attorney general in 2004, asked Harman t o make the case to The New York Times against revealing the program; she tried and failed. Harman is beloved by the pro-Israel lobby and is a sure-bet appearance at the American Israel PublicAffairs Committee's annual policy conference. Her departure earned an unusually effusive statement of regret from AIPAC director Howard Kohr. "As a'strong advocate for joint U.S.-Israeli Home- land Security cooperation, both nations are now better equipped to keep their citizens and borders secure," Kohr said in a statement to JTA. "Her expertise in intelligence, national security and foreign policy has enabled her to make a significant and meaningful contribution toward ensur- ing that America stands with Israel in its quest for peace and security." He credited Harman with being instrumental in ensur- ing that Israel received an- nual security assistance and funding for missile defense systems. It was that AIPAC-intel- ligence nexus that involved Harman in a scandal-that- wasn't in April 2009, when her support for expanded eavesdropping powers came back to bite her. Intelligence officials leaked to the media a taped 2005 con- versation between Harman and what they described as an "Israeli agent." The "agent" asked Harman to intervene in the case of two former AIPAC staffers who had been charged with handling classified in- formation. Harman agreed to "waddle" into the matter, "if you think it will make a difference," accord- ing to the reports. The "agent" then said he would advocate on her behalf to keep Harman in her spot as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. Harman said, "This con- versation doesn't exist" and hung up. Nothing in the conversa- tion had showed Harman agreeing to such a quid" pro quo, and her last sentence-- with nary a goodbye--could be read either as a plea to keep the chat secret or an angry sign-off fueled by the recognition that the "agent" was trying to co-opt her. There was never any evi- dence that Harman had intervened in the process. Harman was outraged that her calls had been taped and demanded the full release of the tape, She spoke to JTA at the time in an interview that encapsulated her image as a tough talker. "I used the word 'outrage' twice in my letter, which I wrote this morning stand- ing in my kitchen drinking cappuccino," Harman said. "Three anonymous sources, former national security officials, are selectively leak- ing portions of an alleged intercept about which I knew nothing." Justice Department of- ficials emphasized that Hat- HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 18, 2011 man was not under scrutiny, and a development in the government case against the AIPAC officials just a week or so later cast the leaks in a light that did not flatter the leakers: The government dropped the case for lack of evidence, and the "scandal '' seemed like a desperate last-ditch bid to kee, l the case alive. What no one denied is that Haim Saban, the Israeli- American entertainment magnate who is also a major AIPAC donor, lobbied then- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2006 to keep Harman on the . committee. The Democrats won control of the House that year. Had Harman stayed, she would have achieved a career pinnacle: chairwoman of one of the House's most powerful. and secretive committees. Pelosi, however, insisted on moving Harman off the com- mittee according to rules that Pelosi had helped set when she was ranking Democrat on the committee in the 1990s: Pelosi was adamant that an extended stay on the committee could lead to members becoming co -opted by the intelligence community. That, as it happened, was not an issue for Harman. While she was beloved by the intelligence community for advocating for expanded eavesdropping powers and increased funding, she was not afraid to make waves. Harman earnedthe enmity of Porter Goss, the former committee chairman who became CIA director, first by making clear her opposition to "enhanced" interrogation techniques, and then by linking Goss' associates to a bribe-taking scandal. (Some analysts said Goss, seeking revenge, seemed to be behind the AIPAC leaks.) Harman's willingness to put friends in the hot seat was evident as well in her dealings with Israel. The WikiLeaks trove of State Department cables leaked late last year showed Harman giving Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu a hard time in a 2009 meeting over his two signature issues: settlement expansion and ac- celerating confrontation with Iran. Harman also agreed to sponsor the first confer- ence, in 2009,.of J Street, the "pro-peace, pro-Israel" lobby that arose in part to counter AIPAC's influence. Harman' pro-Israel pos- ture, however, led to two pri- mary challenges from Marcy Winograd, a Jewish activist who advocates a single Israeli- Palestinian state. Harman easily defeated Winograd in 2008 and 2010. Unrest From page 1A ting for assessing the current focus and outlook of Israel's political and security elite. As Israel watches andwaits to see how things in Cairo will shake out, the conference served as an opportunity to speculate about the future and mourn the possible passing of an era of stability along Israel's southern border with Egypt. The changes in Egypt and the possible ripple effect they pose for the rest of the Arab world prompted many to ar- gue for Israel to redouble its efforts on securing a peace deal with the Palestinians. "Our region is moving very fast to the next war, and the only way to stabilize events in Tunisia and Egypt is to find stability by having an interim peace agreement," said Shaul Mofaz, a former defense min- ister and chief of staff who is now part of the opposition. "We need to rebuild trust between both sides.!' Israeli President Shimon Peres made a similar plea in his opening remarks at the conference. "The recent dramatic events raise the need to rid the Israeli-Palestinian con- flict from the agenda," he said. "The conflict is being used by all sides for fhe worse. The peace process is crucial for our neighbors,not just for us." Yet in an indication of the deteriorating relations between Israel and the Pales- tinian Authority, none of the Palestinians who were invited to the conference agreed to come. PA President Mahmoud Abbas was among the speak- ers last year. Israel'sprime ministerusu- ally speaks at the conference, along with other top Israeli officials and diplomats and security experts from around the world. But this year, nei- ther the prime minister nor any senior Cabinet ministers delivered speeches--perhaps a reflection of, the radio silence Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at first demanded after news of the budding revolution in Egypt broke last month. The conference at times felt like something of an unofficial shiva for president Hosni Mubarak's Egypt--not a warm and fuzzy ally, but most important for the Israeli security community, a reliably stable one. The lingering standoff in Egypt between anti-govern- ment protesters and Mubarak is a source of added concern for the Israelis. Security ex- perts said that the longer the uncertainty lasted, the more likely it would be followed by radicalism. "The longer President Mubarak stays, the more it endaflgers an orderly transi- tion and the more Vice Presi- dent Omar Suleiman and the army are tainted by the street, and the more this goes on the more Egypt is in free fall," said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. Shaikh was joined by Egyp- tian and Jordanian colleagues during a session on the Arab street and its effects on re- gional stability. There was also much dis- cussion of the long listofbrew- ing regional concerns--the looming threat of a nuclear Iran, Hezbollah's growing po- litical influence in Lebanon, Islamicization in Turkey--not to mention the possible im- pact of the events on Egypt on peacemaking with the Palestinians. "Who will come to power and push the Palestinians towards concessions with Israel?" asked Yakov Amidor, a retired Israeli general who- held senior roles in military intelligence. "Things have changed for the worse, not the better." Amidor said that weapons smuggling into Gaza had in- creased since the start of the unrest in Egypt, and Hamas in the long run would be strengthened by a new regime in Cairo. Most analysts who spoke at the conference agreed that the prospect of the Mus- lim Brotherhood--Egypt's version of Hamas--seizing control in Egypt was slim. But the consensus was that whatever government comes to power next in Cairo would be less amenable to Israeli and American interests than the current one. In a marked departure from the tone of anxiety and concern coming from most of Israeli officialdom, Peres portrayed a less threatening picture of the revolt in Egypt, calling ita spontaneous upris- ingbyyoath"wearing T-shirts and jeans.,' The prote'ts, he said, were "not organized by an army, a religion or political parties," but byyoung Egyptians using the Internet. "You can lock the doors, but the Internet opens the win- dows," said Peres, who called the unrest a "social rebellion rather than a political one." NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen sounded a more ominous " note. Speaking at the confer- ence, he said the persistence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict contributes to the overall sense of instability in the Middle East and urged the sides to take action. "We do not have all the time in the world," Rasmus- sen said. "There is a new dynamic in the region. We must seize the opportunity to build on it." There's no place like Have you ever wondered how the Wizard of Oz seemed to know everythff? Well, the secret's out and it's You can find everything from student loans to government auctions and government benefits to, well, almost anything. So go to the official source of federal and state government information. It can make you as all-knowing as the Wizard of Oz. USA.9ov 1 (800) FED-INFO A pb:c servic i'qsstge lom the U.S Grer31 'J-r'eice Alil:staiCl: Egypt From page 2A popular or awinning electoral platform to say, "Let's cause trouble with Israel." Finally, the Muslim Brotherhood is not a radi- cal organization. It doesn't have a military wing, it doesn't really espouse vio- lence (there's a whole debate about acts of resistance under occupation, but that's not relevant here). The Brotherhood's position before this, years ago, was that Camp David woUld be put to a referendum of the Egyptian people--that was the official position of an opposition movement with no power to implement it. More recently, the Broth- erhood has said it would uphold all international treaties. So those concerns are completely off the mark. However, there are some things that would have to be thought about or renegot'i- ated. The sale of natural gas to Israel is complicated, for example, and for several an- alyticall different reasons. The primary reason is the price ofgas: Many Egyptians would be willing to sell gas to Israel if they believed they were se'lling gas at interna- tional prices, as opposed to in an opaque, murky economic transaction that people seem to be left in the dark about--where no one really knows what the arrangements really are and the assumption, for good reason, is that the sale of gas is at below-market prices. Then there are issues having to do with Gaza. I think if you asked my grandmother, she'd say, "Look, we shouldn't be sending missiles into Gaza, but diapers and hospital equipment? Yeah, that's fine." That's very different than the situation now, in which the border seems to be at the whim of the Egyp- tian government, and does not reflect the widespread opinion of the Egyptian people. But that's also not to arm Hamas--and that's for all kinds of reasons! There are more Egyptians who have been killed as a result of terrorism than Israelis. Tourism is one of the four major sources of revenue for Egypt, and Sinai is crucial for that: If Gaza and Sinai became a warzone, that would be disastrous. It's also a national security issue! If the Muslim Brother- hood is not going to imple- ment a radical agenda, why is it so popular--why isn't the most popular opposi- tion group something more secular? Over the last 30 years, the most popular opposition movements throughout the Arab world, from Morocco andAlgeria right up to Saudi Arabia, have been Islamist. So the reasons have some- thing to do with Egyptian domestic politics, but also with regional politics; as well as, some people would argue, an increasing reli- gious dimension of politics globally, whether it's the rise of Hindu nationalism in India, religious extrem- ism in Israel, or right-wing evangelical types in the United States. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood do better un- der authoritarian systems. And actually, that should really give someone some hope, right? That under a democracy, the secular and liberal parties would be able to get theia, ideas out? A longer version of this interview originally ap- peared in Tablet, "A New Read on Jewish Life," at Re- printed with permission.