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Lieberman's Conflict of Interest?

Lieberman’s Loyalties

by William Hughes

On May 2, 2002, the Senate of the U.S. passed a notorious pro-Israel Resolution (S. Res. 247), with respect to the Mid-East controversy. Its co author was Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT). In pushing the measure, he barked, “You are either with us or the terrorists” (Washington Times, May 3, 2002). Who is this “us” he is talking about?

The measure falsely equated the U.S.’s post-9/11 fight against terrorism with Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It also condoned Israel’s vicious military attacks on Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Ed.) defines a conflict of interest as a “Term used in connection with public officials and their relationship to matters of private interest or gain to them.”

The Senate Code of Official Conduct, “Conflict of Interest,” Rule 37, Par. 2, states:

“No Member…shall engage in any outside business…which is inconsistent or in conflict with the conscientious performance of official duties.”

The legislative history of this provision says, “It should be read to prohibit any outside activities which could represent a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest (See, Senate Ethics Manual, Sele ct Committee on Ethics, United States Senate, p. 66).

The Congressional Directory, (107th Congress, 2001-2002), list the official biography for Lieberman. It is silent about his membership or association with any Zionist organizations or his adherence to a Zionist political ideology.

Lawmaking is built on trust. Lieberman has an obligation to his fellow senators to disclose fully his agenda to the members of the Senate. Almost all elected political entities abide by these ethical rules, which are centered on revealing any conflict of interest, appearance of a conflict of interest, prejudice, or bias.

Like all members of the Senate, Lieberman is required to file an annual “Financial Disclosure Statement” with the Secretary of the Senate. In his May 15, 2001 submittal, he again failed to mention any official membership in any Zionist organizations. Although, he does disclose his significant connection, as an advisory board member, to three Israeli-based non-profit organizations: “The Peres Center for Peace” at Tel Aviv; “Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies” at Bar-Ilan University, and the “Natural History Museum,” located in Jerusalem.

Lieberman’s membership in these Zionist affiliated groups does raise, on its face, an appearance of a conflict of interest on his part with respect to an issue, like S. Res. 247, since it advances the cause of Zionism and/or Zionist Israel. If he is in fact a Zionist, then the conflict between his public duties and his private interests becomes even more pronounced.

The Anti-Defamation League, a hot air organ for Israel, defines Zionism as, “The guiding nationalist movement of the majority of Jews around the world, who believe in, support and identify with the State of Israel.” Does Lieberman subscribe, as a matter of personal political philosophy, to the ADL’s definition of Zionism? If so, shouldn’t he put that fact on the public record, whether he is a card carrying Zionist or not?

Actually, Zionism is an alien based political movement, global in scope, racially restrictive, with its spiritual headquarters in Tel Aviv, and not Washington, D.C. It aspires to a land grabbing “Greater Israel.”

On another disturbing front, Israel Radio (Kol Yisrael), reported on Oct. 3, 2001, that Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had boasted at a Cabinet meeting, “I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.”

In light of the above, I feel the Senate had a right to know any relevant information about Lieberman’s Zionist political ideology, memberships, and associations in order to weigh the value of endorsing or opposing his pro Israel resolution. He should have, at a minimum, disclosed to the Senate any and all of his Zionist connections, and then, if appropriate, recused himself on the matter of S. Res. 247.

Our country is at high risk for terrorist attacks, partly, because of its flawed policy of giving unconditional support to a hawkish Israel, presently led by a man universally-loathed for his brutality. This policy, unfortunately, also includes unfairly demonizing and punishing Muslims and Arabs leaders in general; for example, the economic sanctions against Iraq, which have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, fall into the latter category (CASI, 01/02).

During the 2000 election, Lieberman received $86,000 from Pro-Israel PAC contributors towards his Senate re-election campaign, (See, Janet McMahon, WRMEA, Oct/Nov. 2000 issue). What effect did that financial contribution, and others like it, have on his voting record and on his hidden political agenda?

Let me make this clear: Lieberman’s religion is no one’s business but his own. His politics, however, and any foreign links to it, are the public’s business. I am pro-America. I am also an anti-Zionist and against Sharon’s colonial policies.

S. Res. 247, which passed the Senate by a 94-2 vote, will only increase the hostility towards America in the Arab and Muslim world. It also, more importantly, will send a green light to the blood stained Sharonists to continue their killing spree against innocent Palestinians. Thankfully, Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Ernest F. Hollings (D S.C.) had the courage to oppose the Resolution.

No special foreign-based interest, like Zionism, should ever be placed above the interest of our Republic. Lieberman must be forced to come clean with the Senate about all his Zionist connections. Senate Rule 37 requires it and so does the future security of our nation.

William Hughes is a Baltimore attorney.

He can be reached at: liamhughes@mindspring.com