Zbigniew Brzezinski was National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. The ex-President has famously written a book equating Israeli policy to South African apartheid. As I frequently point out accusing Israel of apartheid is reserved for people who are either totally ignorant both about Israel and what apartheid in South Africa meant or else simply want to spread propaganda with no regard for facts. President Carter certainly isn't ignorant and neither is Brzezinski. In addition to serving as a senior foreign policy to Senator Obama, Brzezinski has made a career of writing scathing attacks on Israel and making the rounds of the talk show circuit eloquently explaining to Americans why Israel is at the root of all evil in the Middle East and probably beyond. I cringe every time I see him on TV.
Brzezinski is the only senior American official, past or present, who has openly supported John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's claim that the "Israel lobby" has shaped American foreign policy to the detriment of the United States. Alan Dershowitz cited Brzezinski's views as damaging to the Obama campaign:
It is a tremendous mistake for Barack Obama to select as a foreign policy adviser the one person in public life who has chosen to support a bigoted book.
More recently, in response to the Annapolis peace conference Brzezinski signed a letter calling on the Bush administration to open a dialogue with Hamas terrorists, the same people who daily fire rockets and mortars into southern Israel, in part to scuttle any chance for peace. Brzezinski also blamed American and Israeli foreign policy rather than Hizbullah for the 2006 Lebanon War.
Brzezinski's quickness to attack any Israeli government as an obstacle to peace was demonstrated in 1996 appearance on PBS's The Newshour With Jim Lehrer when he had signed a letter urging pressure on the then new government of Binyamin Netanyahu. Brzezinski gave this assessment of the Israeli Prime Minister:
In my view, there is the real danger that Netanyahu is pursuing a policy not of peace with security, which is what he was elected to pursue, but of peace with territory, which is what the Likud has stood for, for a long time--peace with territory, which really means security with territory, and peace being sloughed off.
Prime Minister Netanyahu went on to negotiate, sign, and implement the Wye River Agreement and pulled out of most of Hebron in an attempt to push the Oslo peace process forward. We may have already seen some of Brzezinski's antagonism toward Netanyahu expressed by Senator Obama in his statement that supporting Israel doesn't mean supporting Likud.
How damaging is Brzezinski to Obama with supporters of Israel? Just ask Mark Siegel, who served as Jewish liason for President Carter until 1978:
Brzezinski was a major obstacle to bridging the divisions between the president and the Jewish community. I’m very, very surprised that someone would have him directly involved in a presidential campaign.
Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to fail to capture a majority of the Jewish vote. With foreign policy advisers like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley I think it is very likely that Obama will follow in Carter's footsteps. The loss of supporters of Israel, Jewish, Christian, and other, could easily cost Obama a close election is he is the Democratic nominee.
In Part 3 of this four part series I'll introduce one more adviser that's even more worrisome than Brzezinski.