American Politicians, Bought and Sold
By Ray Hanania
Creators Syndicate April 3, 2014
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to be president of the United States. He is showing how tough he is by standing up to claims he was involved in an outrageous abuse of government power.
But when it comes to standing up to Israel’s powerful lobby, the behemoth governor quickly buckled and begged for forgiveness.
Bridgegate is how the media describes the scandal that almost derailed Christie’s bid for president. It is an outrageous example of unethical political conduct that many blamed on the governor, but that the governor quickly and forcefully blamed on his top aides.
It happened, as these events usually do, just before an election last fall when Christie, a Republican, was facing a challenge from Democrat Barbara Buono. Turns out, Buono was getting a lot of support from officials in Fort Lee, N.J. A Christie aide reportedly ordered state employees to shut down lanes on the first day of school for 3 million New Jersey children, from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge. The lane shutdowns caused a three-hour traffic jam, inconveniencing all of Fort Lee’s residents.
Christie’s administration claimed the lanes were being closed to conduct a “traffic study.”
In reality, as emails later proved, the bridge closure was ordered as political punishment against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to support Christie’s re-election bid.
It’s typical American political corruption. A government official abuses his or her powers to punish those who do not support them.
Despite the overwhelming proof that Christie’s top aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein, the Christie-appointed Port Authority executive who has the power to open and close the lanes, many believed it was Christie who sought the political revenge.
Even though the political buck stops at Christie’s desk as New Jersey’s governor, he has deflected the scandal to his aides and his presidential candidacy is still buoyant. Christie was showing he is “tough.”
But that’s not the case when it comes to standing up to Israel.
Last week, Christie delivered a speech to a Las Vegas group called the Republican Jewish Coalition where he spoke out in defense of Israel.
Christie described how he flew over Israel and the occupied West Bank and saw how “vulnerable” Israel is to possible attack, given that the center of Israel is so narrow and it sits between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan.
Forget for a moment that Jordan is one of Israel’s closest, most accommodating Arab allies.
And I mean really accommodating!
Why just last month, the Jordanian government did its best to downplay the Israeli killing of a member of the Jordanian Royal Court, Raed Zeiter.
Zeiter, who was trying to get to Nablus in the West Bank to raise money for his son, Alaeddine, who was comatose in an Amman hospital, had been pulled off a transit bus at the Allenby Bridge border crossing by an armed Israeli soldier. The judge tripped and hit his head on the ground.
When Zeiter got up to protest, an Israeli sniper in a watchtower above the crossing, fired and hit Zeiter in the leg. Wounded and bleeding, Zeiter tried to get up and the Israeli soldiers around him pumped him with bullets until he was dead. Ten days later, Zeiter’s son died, too.
Miraculously, the Israeli video surveillance system at the Allenby Bridge was “not recording.” Israeli officials said they “regretted” the killing, but refused to apologize. Eager to make the Israelis happy, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his government claimed the Israeli statement was “an apology.”
It shows you how far Jordan’s government will go to keep the Israelis happy. Yet, at the conference, Jordan being so close to Israel is a threat!
Well, that’s not what actually angered the members of the Republican Jewish Caucus.
They were angry because Christie referred to the West Bank as “occupied territory” rather than as “disputed territory.”
Christie was forced to apologize to Sheldon Adelson, the gambling billionaire and Israeli loyalist who media speculate spent as much as $150 million to help Newt Gingrich and then Mitt Romney try and fail to defeat President Barack Obama in the November 2012 elections.
Hey, when Adelson, the publisher of Israel’s largest Hebrew-language newspaper, tells an American to jump, you had better scream, “How high?”
I am not sure which should upset Americans more. 1. That a governor’s office was used to punish a political foe by causing a “traffic jam?” 2. That a billionaire who cares more about Israel than America has so much influence over the man people say will be the Republican Party nominee against Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 presidential elections.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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