Pat Buchanan has always favored a strong, independent state of Israel. He has been a lifelong friend to the Jewish people, both individually and collectively speaking.
In 1973, as a special assistant to President Nixon, he strongly supported the decision to aid the Israelis with a massive airlift that saved the country in the Yom Kippur War.
In 1976, he supported the Israeli raid on Entebbe, and in 1981 he supported the Begin government's attack on the Baghdad nuclear reactor.
In 1986, he was instrumental in getting Natan Sharanski released from the Gulag at the urging of his wife Avital.
His columns throughout his 20 years as a columnist contain numerous affirmations of his view that the U.S. has a "moral commitment - to guarantee the security and survival of the Israeli state," (as he told Human Events editor Allan Ryskind in 1992), and not a single reference that can remotely be considered anti-Semitic. Why, then, the charges?
The charges of anti-Semitism are based on political disputes; stands that Mr. Buchanan has taken over the years which have angered some columnists, lobbyists, and pundits. They are rooted, in part, in disagreements about the direction of American foreign policy, and have nothing to do with supposed expressions of racist or anti-Semitic sentiment by Mr. Buchanan.
Some of these stands include:
* His support of the "land for peace" policy in the Middle East, which is now the official policy of the Israeli government.
* His early opposition to a U.S. commitment to re-establish the Emir of Kuwait because it would put American lives at stake in a conflict that he believed was not in America's vital interest. Actually, Buchanan favored deterring Saddam Hussein's aggression in Saudi Arabia.
* His defense of John Demjanjuk, a retired Cleveland auto worker, against the charge that he was "Ivan the Terrible," the Treblinka Death Camp guard responsible for the mass murder of Jews. Despite deportation by the U.S. Justice Department on the basis of evidence falsified by the Soviet KGB, the Israeli Supreme Court subsequently ruled that it was a case of mistaken identity, which Buchanan had maintained all along.
In the past six months, anonymous sources have distributed "documentation" of the charges of anti-Semitism, quoting Mr. Buchanan's past columns and public statements. These quotations -- clearly taken out of context and given the most malicious interpretation possible -- represent a transparent effort to misrepresent Pat Buchanan on issues relating to the Jewish people, Israel, and racial minorities. The following refutation of some of the more outrageous charges (in quotes) should help to set the record straight.
1."Buchanan told Elie Wiesel that President Reagan must not surrender to 'Jewish pressure' against visiting a German cemetery where SS men were buried."
* This story was originally broadcast on NBC by Marvin Kalb, soon before President Reagan made a controversial visit to Bitburg cemetery in 1985. Kalb reported that Buchanan had been observed writing, "over and over again," "succumbing to the pressure of the Jews." The alleged source of the story later told the New York Times that Kalb was mistaken about the notation, and that "This is a complete flap over nothing. . . Any criticism of Mr. Buchanan based on his notes is a bum rap." Kalb later apologized for the report.
2."In a 1977 column Buchanan called Hitler an 'individual of great courage' who possessed 'extraordinary gifts.'"
* The excerpted phrases are intended to leave the impression that the column was a tribute to Adolf Hitler. In reality, the column was, in large part, an account of historian John Toland's widely-acclaimed biography of Hitler. A characterization of Toland's depiction of Hitler, reads, "Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier's soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him." In the same column Buchanan writes that "Hitler was marching along the road toward a New Order where Western civilization would not survive." Far from an endorsement of Hitler, the column warned of making the same mistake with Mao Tse-tun and Taiwan in 1977 that deluded western leaders made with Hitler and Czechoslovakia in the `30s.
3. "In an interview in Present Tense magazine, Buchanan stated that 'if my friends in the Jewish community feel Pat Buchanan, a traditionalist Catholic, owes some kind of apology for the record of the Holy Father during World War II, they can wait, because it's not going to be forthcoming."
* The context of the comment was the demand by Bronx Rabbi Avraham Weiss for the Catholic Church to expel Carmelite nuns from their convent at Auschwitz, on the grounds that their presence there was an insult to Jewish sensibilities, since Pope Pius XII and the Church were allegedly complicit in the Holocaust. Weiss actually invaded the convent at Auschwitz to protest the nuns' presence. The Boston Herald wrote in defense of Weiss' actions, saying "The coldness of it was numbing: On the spot where one-quarter of European Jewry was martyred, the church that for 1,000 years had done so much to feed anti-Semitism intended to set up shop."
Pat Buchanan wrote a column defending the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII against the slur (which had its origins in Rolf Hochhuth's fictional play "The Deputy" in 1963), and pointing out that the contemporary testimony of Jewish leaders contradicted the charges, in fact praising Pius XII for saving Jewish lives.
4. "On the McLaughlin Report, August 26, 1990: 'There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the middle East, the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States."
* Early in the Gulf crisis, before the big buildup of U.S. ground troops in the Gulf, some columnists in the U.S. and Israeli officials were clamoring for an early strike against the Iraq. According to a contemporary account in the New York Times "Many Israeli politicians, academic experts an citizens are growing nervous, and in some cases angry, after concluding that the United States wants a political solution and is not looking for a military confrontation in the Persian Gulf.
"If the United States doesn't solve the problem now," Prime Minister Shamir's chief of staff was quoted, "Then, they'll have to fly the Marines back here again."
Many military experts agreed that such an action would risk a disaster. It was in this context that the remark was made. It was close to a month after the comment was made -- without objection from any quarter -- when A.M. Rosenthal made the first public accusation of anti-Semitism against Mr. Buchanan.
5. "In 1987 Buchanan lobbied to stop deportation of Karl Linnas, accused of Nazi atrocities in Estonia."
*Buchanan's objection to the summary deportation of Karl Linnas to the Soviet Union -- where he had been tried in absentia and sentenced to death in 1962 -- was not that a Nazi war criminal ought not to be deported and executed, but that Linnas' deportation was based on a trial in the Soviet Union where no U.S. standards of justice applied. That judgment was seconded at the time by the Washington Post, which opined that "a true and disturbing question remains whether justice by accepted American standards was done in this case, where a human life - never mind what kind of a human he may have been -- is on the line,"
6. "On March 2, 1992, at a campaign rally in Marietta, Georgia, where Rabbi Avi Weiss called out, 'Your anti-Semitism makes America last,' Buchanan shot back, "This rally is of Americans, for Americans and for the good 'ol USA, my friends,"
* The comment, as reported by columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak at the time, was not directed to the Jewish protesters, but part of the campaign speech. "It is doubtful Buchanan is talking to the protesters -- an impression confirmed by reporters on the scene who did not question the candidate about it after the incident," they wrote.
7. "In 1990, before the Gulf War, Buchanan wrote that if the US went to war, 'the fighting would be done by kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown," The National Review commented that 'There is no way to read that sentence without concluding that Pat Buchanan was suggesting that American Jews manage to avoid personal military exposure even while advancing military policies they (uniquely?) engender."
* Read in context, it is clear that Mr. Buchanan is making reference to an editorial in the Economist magazine that urged, "Mr. Bush must go to war and that "the civilized world must win this fight." Buchanan was making the point that the casualties would be American, not British.
The quote from National Review's William F. Buckley, Jr., is based on his incorrect implication that the column mentioning "McAllister Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown" was in the same piece that listed A.M. Rosenthal, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer and Henry Kissinger as supporters of an early strike against Saddam. In fact, that column addressed another issue, the looming split among conservatives on the issue of the Gulf War.
It is clear from these examples that the intent of the accusers has been to twist the truth.
"As a Jew, I never felt any hostility from Buchanan on that score, never heard him make a disparaging remark about Jews, never noticed any difference in the way he treats Jews and non-Jews,"
-Michael Kinsley, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire"
"Even after the Rosenthal column, nobody responsible in the Republican Party said, 'Yes, Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite.' They didn't join in. Very few journalists joined in. What happened was, when he entered the presidential politics, then he entered a new level of criticism and attack on him."
-Robert Novak, syndicated columnist
"I've known [Pat] now for twenty-five years. We have agreed on almost nothing, starting with Richard Nixon . . , there's not a scintilla of evidence in all I've known about Pat that he is anti-Semitic . . , This is an attempt to say that if you disagree with Israel on a matter of policy, you can be called anti-Semitic..."
-Jack Germond, Baltimore Sun columnist
"No true Christian can carry within his heart hatred for any of God's children . . . I am as aware as any other Christian that our Savior was Jewish, His mother was Jewish. The Apostles were Jewish. The first martyrs were Jewish...So no true Christian, in my judgment, can be an anti-Semite."
- Pat Buchanan, comment to a Christian magazine, 1992
*On the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, 6/25/82
"Politically, mankind suffered no irreversible loss with the sweeping of the PLO from the international chess board. As virulently anti-American as it was anti-Israeli, the PLO has been a Soviet cat's-paw, the linchpin of international terror, the base camp for the worst elements on earth, a friend to every enemy of the United States from the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to Idi Amin in Uganda."
*On the state of Israel, 1983
"Israel remains a tough, resourceful, energetic nation, an offspring of the West . . . whose current struggle merits sympathy and support."
*On the Israeli strike against Iraqi nuclear reactor, 6/11/81
"From a security perspective, the Israelis' preemptive strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad was timely and crucial.
..Given the implacable hatred of Baghdad for Israel-- the nation is referred to only as "The Zionist Entity" -- the prospect, indeed, the probability of atomic weapons in Iraqi hands, was one with which the Israelis literally could not live.
..righteous United States condemnation of Israel, a small sliver of land with three major cities, rings hollow. How, for example, would we expect President Reagan and Secretary of State Haig to act if weapons-grade material were being fed into a Soviet-built Cuban reactor, with Castro declaring: 'This one is for the Yankees.
..what Israeli could go to sleep secure with revanchist Palestinians a few miles away nursing their hatred of the 'Zionist imperialists' who destroyed their homeland and drove their fathers and mothers into refugee camps?"
*On the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, 12/17/85
"It would not be at all unreasonable if the Israelis came to the conclusion that their survival, more than ever, depends upon themselves alone. If a majority in that country have arrived at such a conclusion, it is natural to seek security in geography and guns, not treaties and talk.
..The militants -- Syria, Libya, Iraq, the military wing of the PLO -- will settle for nothing less than eradication of the "Zionist entity" from the Arab world. Within Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, there are millions more for whom the humbling and destruction of the Jewish state is a nightly dream. Even the "moderate" governments in the region -- Egypt, for example -- could probably not survive a permanent peace which left East Jerusalem under Israeli control."
*On former Prime Minister Rabin, 9/17/93
"...the statesman who brought peace after a half century of fighting for Israel's place in the sun."