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Radio interview
The Tovia Singer Show, Israel National Radio
Alan Keyes
November 12, 2002

TOVIA SINGER, HOST: Dr. Alan Keyes, welcome to the show. Dr. Keyes?


SINGER: Hi. Shalom, and welcome to the show.

KEYES: Thank you.

SINGER: It's a joy to have you with us today. You know, you are an inspiration to so many people. When folks found out that we're going to have you on today, people were moved by that: "Alan Keyes, we love him. This is a man who speaks what he feels, who speaks the truth. He is straightforward with America, and has a great, intense love for Israel."

KEYES: Well, I'm very glad and appreciative of all the wonderful encouragement and support that I've gotten from folks around the country. I am heartened because there are so many people, of all different backgrounds and persuasions, who are responding positively to an effort to really just get the truth out with some integrity about what happens in the Middle East, about the historical background of the situation, so that we can deal with these issues in a way that's fair--not just to Israel, I think, but to the real prospects for peace and improvement in the world.

SINGER: Let me just go right to the point. You're a man of extraordinary experience, you were an ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan administration, State Department, eleven years. Let me just address the issue that's going on in Israel. You, of course, have spoken loudly about the terrorism and the evil. Those were the words you used when you spoke recently in Washington about the evil that is coming out of the radical Islamic world, the Arab world, the terrorist community. What does Israel do at this point? Do they continue to negotiate for any kind of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, or does Israel do what America has done with the Taliban?

KEYES: Well, frankly, I don't think that it's possible right now seriously to address any issues of negotiation, when Israel is being forced to confront people, blood-thirsty thugs, who are committed to the practice of terrorism and who have been so over the course, not just of the last little while, but of several decades--if you look at someone like Arafat. They have practiced an approach that sits down at the negotiating table as and when they please, and when they don't get what they want, they are in the midst of the practice of terrorism and think that they should in any case be legitimized.

I think that, in point of fact, we have encouraged with this kind of an approach the belief in the Arab world that terrorism is a legitimate tool, that the world will put up with it, that America will put up with it, and I think that it is now clear we are paying a tremendous cost for that, not just in Israel, but around the world. And I think it has to stop.

I think at this stage, the one message must be clear: there really can't be negotiations about anything with a leadership that has its hands dripping with innocent blood.

SINGER: Well, that's the way many, many people feel throughout the land of Israel.

My question to you is, you know, you worked for the State Department for eleven years. The State Department is viewed as largely a hostile institution to Israel. Very few Israelis, very few people who have a deep love for the land of Israel, derive any solace from the State Department--but they do from the houses of Congress, they do from people like yourself. What is it with the State Department, what is it with their, it seems, vicious hatred for Israel and a deep affection, or, a coddling, of the Arab states that support and nurture terrorism?

KEYES: Well, I think that there are--it's a complex of problems. I remember once during my tenure in the State Department talking to folks who dealt with Middle Eastern affairs, and one of them at a lunch we had said something that has stuck in my mind. He pointed out that there is one Israel, but there are thirty-some-odd Arab states, and therefore, someone who works in the State Department dealing with the Middle East is most likely to spend the overwhelming majority of their career in an Arab state, and that this produces kind of an inevitable "clientitis." I think you have that problem as a professional bias.

There's also a bias in the Department in favor of substance-less processes. In part, I think this comes from the belief that any diplomacy is better than no diplomacy, and therefore you have to, at all costs, keep a negotiating process alive. I think that has been the basic premise of the State Department's approach to the policy in the Middle East. It's one of the reasons that they have been so insistent on maintaining a Yasser Arafat and his ilk in their position and giving them legitimacy. [The State Department says,] "Who else are we going to deal with?" They're very process-oriented, whether or not the process is, in fact, contributing to peace.

In this case, I think the process has contributed to the encouragement of violence and terrorism; folks at the State Department obsessed with the process nonetheless want to take an approach that will keep these terrorist leaders in their positions of influence.

I think it's a combination of factors, therefore. It's not as simple as just hating Israel. I think it's more a cultural, professional bias; it's a bias that arises from career patterns; and it's a bias that arises from the mentality that, unfortunately, I think, prevails sometimes, where folks in the Department will put process above substance when they are dealing with issues of policy.

SINGER: Give me a scorecard for the Bush administration. How are they doing? How is the president doing? And you know, someone who many of us wonder about--although not in the last week or two--and that is, speaking of the State Department, Colin Powell. How do you feel Bush is doing? I'm sure you feel you have positive feelings about the Secretary of Defense. What do you feel that Colin Powell fits into this administration?

KEYES: Well, to tell you the truth, my impression of the Secretary of State is that he has been pretty much an instrument of the State Department, that he did not bring to his job any original insight, much in the way of real instincts, when dealing with international affairs. Pretty much everything we've seen coming from him has reflected, in my opinion, the traditional approaches of the State Department. He has pretty much, therefore, been the tool of the traditional NEA approach to the Middle East. And I think that that has been tempered, of course, by the fact that he's working in an administration where there are other forces, pretty strong ones, moving in a different direction than that, who are thinking about the strategic interests of the United States, thinking about the threat that we face now in the war on terrorism.

One of the problems with Colin Powell is that, even though it's clear, from what the president says, that we are a nation at war--right?--I think that Colin Powell has been reluctant to understand that wartime diplomacy is different than peacetime diplomacy, and that, therefore, in wartime, diplomacy really becomes a subordinate tool of strategy, so we must be thinking through how what we are doing is going to affect, for better or worse, the war that we are conducting.

If he thought that way, he would realize that we can't afford to have a standard for understanding terrorism in the Middle East that undermines and destroys our standard for understanding and confronting terrorism in the rest of the world. And that has been, unfortunately, I think, the tendency of his recommendation.

SINGER: You're listening to Israel National Radio, 98.7 FM, 1539 AM.

Do you think that Colin Powell is going to last through this administration and into a possible future administration, or do you think that his time is limited here?

KEYES: I really don't know. I think that, in many ways, this president has been pretty tolerant of substandard performances--if I may put it that way. So he has at the CIA. I mean, I think, frankly, his national security advisor, when you look at the kind of terrible blows that we've suffered in the course of the last year--all of these things would suggest to me that the personnel haven't really been doing their job, and he keeps them on. So, I don't know how to answer that. I, myself, would not have somebody like Colin Powell at State, so I don't know why one would keep him there.

SINGER: Does it boggle your mind that, given that he was the one who encouraged Bush senior to stop at the boundaries of Baghdad, that he would be the one heading the State Department in this administration that seeks to do the exact opposite, to terminate the administration of Saddam Hussein?

KEYES: Well, this is the irony of Secretary Powell's career--isn't it?--that he is someone who, in effect, has achieved his stature in the public mind (or did achieve it) as the spokesman for a war that, even in the beginning, he disagreed with. Colin Powell was not a supporter of our strategy in Kuwait, and, in fact, opposed the implementation of the strategy that ultimately led to success in the war, as well as, you point out, any further actions against Iraq.

So, in an ironic twist of history, he built his career on the notoriety that he achieved as spokesman for the Defense Department while we were pursuing a war that, in effect, he did not really wholeheartedly support. It's interesting, isn't it?

SINGER: It is stunning. It stuns most folks--I know it does you. You know, you turned to another area that you are deeply familiar with, and that is the media--the largely left-leaning media that, I believe (and you've spoken about this in the past), that has undermined the spiritual fabric, the moral fabric, of this country.

Now, the question relates to Israel, relates to a country where the issues that are important to the left, important to the media--namely, gay-rights issues; namely, women's issues; namely, pro-abortion issues. In the state of Israel, gay rights is legal, they can parade down Jerusalem and down the streets of Tel Aviv. You would think that folks like Phil Donahue, you would think that people on the left would love Israel, would have nothing but contempt for the Palestinians, who regularly jail (and worse) homosexuals and so on. Why is it that the media on the one hand is so pro-left on these issues, but yet in the only country where there are rights of these types, the media seems to have nothing but, at the very least, ambivalence towards the state of Israel?

KEYES: Well, I think because at the level of Israel's survival, Israel is not going to survive according to the nostrums of, kind of, trendy, left-wing thinking. It's not going to happen, because it's an ideology that really doesn't take account of some hard facts in the world, including the hard fact which has been denied for a long time that there really is a difference between good and evil, that going into somebody's home and shooting a ten-year-old or a five-year-old in the head is an evil act that can't be justified by some ideological agenda. Relativism doesn't make any sense in the context of such acts.

Obviously, Israel cannot survive in terms of its strategic interest, its survival as a state, except by confronting the hard issues of moral choice, and making those choices which are necessary for survival in the context of this kind of evil coming against you. And I think that the policies that are, therefore, required by Israel's survival are policies that have to be based on premises that ultimately reject some of the more feckless understandings that have been trendy on the extreme left. And sadly, that means that you're not likely to see support from those who are influenced by those trendy nostrums.

Also, of course, there has been a tendency, I think, on the left to try to (how can I put this?) portray the Palestinians as classic victims, and the Israelis as somehow classic abusers--to put them in a category with, I don't know, the old apartheid regime in South Africa, and things like this.

The facts don't support this understanding, and yet, there are folks who want to hold on to it and promote it at Israel's expense, so that it becomes part of a left-wing world-view, with Israel cast in the role of the villain. Here, again, I think they're ignoring historic facts and truths about the real nature of this confrontation--who really has been, in fact, the underdog over the course of these decades, and in reality remains so when you look at the balance of power in the world--but I think that this kind of delusion has tended to prevail in the thinking of folks on the extreme left of the spectrum.

SINGER: You know, I can't think of a better person to ask these questions to than yourself. There's a Jewish saying that words that come from the heart penetrate the heart. You are, as you well know, regarded as one of the most foremost orators, one of the finest speakers in this country, and I don't think it's just a gift, although you are gifted, but the passion comes across. You know, when I was in Washington watching you at the Christian Coalition convention, you could see, as you stood there in front of thousands of men and women who love Israel, you could see it just welling up within you. And then you brought an audience to their feet, and it just swept us all away. You were exactly what we lovers of Zion needed to hear at that moment.

And you are also, in many ways, an insider. You are a servant, you have been for much of your life a servant to this country, and served in so many different areas. So I'm going to ask you something, just like a point that I think you would understand. There is a fear, there is a deep concern in any Israeli administration. Israel essentially has one friend in the world--and if you're going to have one, it should be the United States. The state of Israel relies so deeply on the United States in so many ways--militarily, in the United Nations protecting Israel from the Europeans who would sooner destroy, and the tin hats there that cannot wait to bring down the Jewish state. There's a fear sometimes in the Israeli administration by moving ahead after terrorism. Often, America, historically, has stopped Israel in the midst of wars.

What do you suggest to an Israeli administration? Should they move ahead and do what they need to do, and not fear a retaliation from an administration, from a United States administration? Do you understand what I'm asking?

KEYES: Yeah, I do understand it. Let me tell you a couple of things. I guess, first--and I mean this from my own personal understanding of things, obviously, of my own faith--but I guess I think the greatest friend that Israel has in the world is God Almighty. And I deeply believe that we are in a time when, in His providential wisdom, one's attitude toward Israel is, in fact, a reflection of one's attitude toward Him. That's step number one.

And I think that's very important to the second point, because the second point is that American policies are very often influenced by American politics. And one of the realities of life in the present time for American politics is that you've got a Republican Party (and we obviously have a Republican president and Congress right now), and at the core of that Republican Party, there is a constituency without which the Republican Party cannot hope for victory in any elections, at any level. And that constituency of strong believers, of people who are concerned about the moral direction of the country and its values, of people who are strongly opposed to terrorist violence, and strongly supportive of Israel, this is a constituency that will not tolerate a policy that retreats from and endangers the future of Israel--not only for Israel's sake, but for the sake of America, and all of the things we have to stand for.

And I think that's a very important fact to be aware of and to understand, so that as one works with the situation in America, one reaches out to and builds up that strong base of support which I think is right now having a very positive influence on the calculations of the current administration.

I think there has been, obviously, some misunderstanding, estrangement over the course of years, over a whole range of issues, that I hope is now being overcome--so that folks who are strongly supportive of Israel will stand on that common ground, across all the usual traditional dividing lines and barriers in American politics. And in doing so, I think we will be providing, not only stronger American policy with respect to Israel, but better American thinking in terms of the task we face, because that's the final point. I think we must always keep in mind that America can't afford to establish one standard for Israel when dealing with terrorism, and then another for ourselves, because that won't work.

If we violate what's needed to fight terrorism when we demand that Israel stop doing what's necessary, we create a moral sensibility in our own society that will inhibit our ability to deal with terror.

SINGER: Do you believe that, at some point, the only solution for Israel is the military solution?

KEYES: I don't think over the long term, no. I have to be honest. I think the ultimate solution for Israel, obviously, is going to be a solution that is arrived at by achieving an understanding with the decent people of the Middle East--and there are such people.

But I think you can't get to a point where you can actually work out the future of the region amongst the folks of decent conscience who live there, until you have eliminated the power, legitimacy, and control of those forces that are not decent, and that are committed to a strategy of terror that accepts no basic rules of human conscience.

So, I think that at this juncture, we just have to screw up our courage to the sticking point and fight the battle against this evil, until its power has been broken. When that happens, I think there's going to be a prospect for a future in the region that will come about, not by force, but by talk and by negotiation. But in this particular instance, I think we're deluding ourselves if we think that those negotiations can be conducted with a blood-thirsty terrorist leadership. That leadership must be broken and eliminated.

SINGER: Are you going to be running for president in the next opportunity that opens, Dr. Keyes?

KEYES: Well, I'm a Republican, and I think that as I assess the situation of the Bush administration, I'm like everybody else. They don't do things--some of the things they do I don't like, some of the things they do I like. I think, on balance, this president has been strong, and I will support him for reelection. So that takes care of 2004.

Beyond that, I think it's a matter of my own sense that I never got involved in politics anyway except as I felt impelled to stand and speak for things that I deeply cared about. If it appears that I can do some good by doing that, I'll consider it again. If not, I'll support somebody who I think is going to do a good job for the country.

SINGER: Well, you know, you've transformed so many people. You've touched so many individuals around the world. When you spoke, when you raised your voice, when you--even during the debates, we listened to you. And people were stunned by your words; deeply touched. And I know that Jewish people and those Christians who have a deep love and affection of Israel are deeply moved by your support of the state of Israel, and we'll be watching you and we'll be supporting you in your, hopefully, upcoming run for presidency for heading the Republican Party.

This is Israel National News, my name is Tovia Singer. Dr. Alan Keyes, what a joy to have you on. Thank you for being a part of the show.

KEYES: Well, I appreciate it very much, and thank you for giving me a chance to share my thoughts.

SINGER: Well, the people of Israel appreciate it. Thank you, and Shalom.

KEYES: Shalom.

SINGER: Ah! What an extraordinary person. You know, it touches your heart to meet, to speak, to such an individual. It's enriching. A person who never deviates, never turns away from what he believes, a man deeply committed to God, a person who just has such a deep love, rich affection, for the state of Israel. I've never seen the man twitch.
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