Firsthand Account: Israeli Plot to Murder Former US Senator?
The FBI had uncovered a "plot" on my life. Not a threat, but a plot. But, the agent said, it's OK now, as the guy who intended to murder me had now gone back to Israel...
February 24, 2012 "Information Clearing House" --- James Abourezk represented South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 to 1973 and in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 1979. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate. CNI asked Senator Abourezk about his experiences with the Israel Lobby while he served in Congress. In his response he told of an Israeli plot against him that has received perplexingly little coverage in the U.S. press. Below is his description of this and other incidents:
Q: Despite such books as Paul Findley's They Dare to Speak Out, Edward Tivnan's The Lobby, and Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby, some people still tend to downplay the power of the Israel Lobby. Can you tell us about some of your experiences with it?
A: I'm an eyewitness to what the Lobby does to Members of Congress, including to me during the time I spent in D.C. I was threatened, marginalized, attacked, lied about, among other matters in an effort to silence my criticism of Israel's policies and of the Lobby.
I was under continual attack by the Lobby while I was in politics. Because I kept myself clean during my time of service, someone in the Lobby dug up a story designed to embarrass me by exposing my oldest son to ridicule. He was, at the time, living on an Indian reservation in South Dakota on food stamps. The Lobby got Spencer Rich, who was a political reporter for the Washington Post, to do a story on him. Rich several times called both my wife and me trying to get us to comment, but we refused. So he ran the story, headlined, "Senator's Son Living on Food Stamps." That set off a fire storm of criticism against the Post, and against Ben Bradlee, who was then Editor in Chief. Larry Stern, who was one of my friends, and an editor of the Post, complained bitterly to Bradlee. Senators McGovern and Ribicoff both took to the Senate Floor denouncing the article, saying the Post was trying to destroy the food stamp program.
"We're going to get him"
Si Kenen, who was then Executive Director of AIPAC, used to tell anyone who knew me, to tell Abourezk "we're going get him." And when I returned from a trip through the Middle East, I spoke about the trip at the Federal Press Club (reserved for women and blacks) and talked about how every Middle East leader I met with said they would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel if Israel would go back to the 1967 borders. A young fellow named Wolf Blitzer, who was then writing for AIPAC, rose to ask me several hostile questions before he walked out. The next issue of the AIPAC newsletter headlined that "Abourezk Sells Out to the Arabs." That was the beginning of the war, as I failed to collapse after that broadside, and worked to make AIPAC regret their unfair attack on me.
I used to take the lead in human rights legislation in the Senate. I once offered an amendment to a bill that would cut off American money for any country violating the human rights of their people. Before anyone would vote, I was asked during debate "whether the amendment would apply to Israel." When I said "no" I would get that person's vote.
I was invited to speak at Yeshiva University when I was in the Senate. Before the time came for me to travel to New York, I was visited by a Rabbi Miller, who was from Yeshiva, and who advised me that "the students were marching against me and my speech," and that, "It would calm things down if I would just make a public statement that I was for face to face negotiations between the Palestinaians and the Israelis."
After I left the Senate, Art Meggido, a writer for the Baltimore Jewish newspaper asked me for an interview. When I asked him why I should give him an interview, he told me that the Jewish community would eventually have to deal with me when it came to making peace in the Middle East. So I agreed. When the article came out, he related a story that an unnamed Ted Kennedy staffer told him that I had approached Kennedy and asked for money to go to Iran and free some hostages to help him in his 1980 primary campaign against Jimmy Carter.
Although I was afraid that either my phone or Kennedy's phone was being tapped by the Carter people, we avoided speaking about the trip over the phone, except for one occasion when I called Kalicke to talk to him about it. Almost the next day, a Lebanese journalist who covered the State Department told me that he had overheard both Marvin Kalb and the Israeli TV journalist there talking about "Abourezk acting as a messenger for Ted Kennedy over in Iran."
There are other stories that I could tell you at the risk of boring you to death, but the Lobby had every Senator, except me, scared shitless.
Since CNI does not feel that anyone will be bored by these other stories, we have asked Senator Abourezk, who is a member of our board of directors, to provide additional ones, which he has agreed to do on occasion. He is a columnist for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which has long published such commentaries and reminiscences. For an earlier article by Senator Abourezk on this topic, see "Yes, It's the Lobby: 'Political Fear' Drives US Support for Israel."
Senator James Abourezk is a member of the board of the Council for the National Interest Foundation, he served South Dakota in the U.S. Senate between 1973-1979. Notably he was the first Arab-American to become a Senator. He also served South Dakota’s second district in the House of Representatives between 1971 and 1973. Currently he is a senior partner in Abourezk Law Offices, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.