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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on the Tovia Singer Show
February 28, 2006
Israel National Radio

TOVIA SINGER, HOST: Right now, I am joined by two-time U.S. presidential candidate Ambassador Alan Keyes, great friend of Israel, and he's joining us now on Israel National Radio. Ambassador Keyes, welcome to the show.

ALAN KEYES: Thank you very much. I'm glad to be with you.

SINGER: Great to have you on. Ambassador, I guess a good place to begin is to ask you--conservative Americans, they have a great deal of love for Israel, but the Left hates us. Why?

KEYES: I guess I'm not really and never have been sure of that, as to what the explanation is. I know that, generally speaking, during the course of the 1980s and thereafter, for reasons that had to do with the international situation and so forth, there was a lot of identification in the internationalist, Left-wing circles with the PLO--and they even lumped together the PLO with the people who were fighting apartheid in South Africa and things of this kind in the '70s and '80s. And I think that that mentality kind of meant that, as part of the Left-wing ideology, there was an animus against Israel that was picked up, I guess, as part of what you might call the party line.

Beyond that, I think there has also been the sense that Israel, after all, does represent a salient of the West in the Middle East. It has represented representative government and an approach to things that puts a greater emphasis on respect for individual rights and liberties. To some extent, the people who are more socialistically inclined might see that as somehow a departure from some of the approaches that they prefer--but of course there have always been people on the Left who in fact want to respect basic rights and representative government. So, I think that that source of the animus is probably confined to more hard-lined kind of people who would be willing, for instance, to embrace Castro and other totalitarian, communist regimes.

SINGER: If you're just joining us know, my guest is Ambassador Alan Keyes.

I might as well just say this. One of the--Israel has no greater friend in the United States than this man, who kept us company in 2002 on MSNBC. We want you back, Ambassador.

KEYES: [laughs]

SINGER: We want you back soon. We need you.

KEYES: Well, thank you for the thought.

SINGER: Just to tell you a little bit about my guest. He spent eleven years at the U.S. State Department, served in the U.S. foreign service on the staff of National Security Council before becoming Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, where he represented the interest of America in the U.N. General Assembly.

Ambassador, let's talk a little bit about Iran. Iran is building a nuclear arsenal. Are you satisfied with the Bush Administration and how it's approaching this crisis?

KEYES: Well, I think it's going to be very important to lay down, as they have, a clear line against the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Iranians. I think it's also going to require a willingness to see it in the geo-strategic context. After all, I think it's naïve to believe that, for instance, the problems that are now occurring in Iraq are not problems that involve and have been fomented, to a certain extent, by Iranian involvement and participation.

So, I think we have to see that possible acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran in the context of the strategic role it plays as a part of that infrastructure of terror--and in that context, I think it need to be made clear to the American people that a nuclear Iran is one of those realities that will pose a grave and immediate threat to the lives and survival of Americans. And that's why I think it has to be given a great emphasis, and we should be willing to take some risk in order to establish a clear, hard line against it.

SINGER: All right. You know, Israel has got a lot of problems, and America apparently does as well. This is hard to believe--and you've commented on this and it appears on your website. I want to give the listeners the website. It's

KEYES: Ah, dot U S.

SINGER: Yeah, Excuse me.

KEYES: Right.

SINGER: Apparently, the United States is prepared to give its ports to the United Arab Emirates. Yesterday, Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, was on the Jay Leno show. He compared this Arab country to Britain. He said there's no difference at all.

What danger does this pose to American interests?

KEYES: Well, sadly, I think a lot of American look at that and say that statements like that seem to defy both our experience and our common sense. And I don't think it's necessarily a statement directly about the government of the United Arab Emirates, but clearly, when you look at the record of the past several years, terrorists have been using the United Arab Emirates as a base, have funneled money through the UAE. There has been, therefore, an involvement by the country in the infrastructure of terror, even though the government has expressed cooperation and support for our anti-terror policies.

It reminds me, to a certain extent, of the ambiguities that haunt our policy with Saudi Arabia and others, in that there is an official position that seems to be on our side, and meanwhile, one sees de facto support being extended to the terrorist infrastructure.

And I think we have to base our policy on the realities, not on the declaratory policy, and we have to be careful to remember that in a situation like this, you wouldn't necessarily have any official government involvement, but you could still have individuals using that port facility in order to introduce elements into the United States terrorists' cadre, weapons, other things that would be detrimental to our interests.

So, I think it's clearly justified to be neuralgic about the possibility that we would be handing over port facilities. Some people say, "Well, we'll still be having the Customs and other security." Well, the truth of the matter is, what is going on in the middle of the night and what is going on when those official elements can't always be present, that's what has to be concerning, as it was some years back with the Chinese control of one of those port facilities.

SINGER: If you're just joining us now, my guest, Ambassador Alan Keyes. He ran for president twice, and we miss that voice. We hope that you'll be running again in America--perhaps you'll be the next president or will raise the platform of that campaign.

Ambassador Keyes, Israel is in a lot of trouble right now. It just destroyed 8,000 homes, 21 Jewish communities in Gaza, given to the PLO. Hamas has just been elected in a landslide by the Palestinians. They are controlling, now, the PA. What is responsible for Hamas' dominance, after Israel gave away the Gaza? Can you explain this?

KEYES: Well, to tell you the truth, I see this as a consequence of the fact that we have not--and when I say "we," I mean the United States, I mean elements in the international community, including the Europeans, who say that they oppose violence and terrorism, but who have never in fact backed that up with a consistent policy.

And when you look at what has happened--consider, for example, the fact that in the 1990s, all of the so-called peace accords and agreements included a provision to exclude terrorists from the political process. And yet, when that political process took place with Hamas involvement, how much of a reaction was there against the involvement of this clear terrorist group in the political process?

So, they win a victory on account of having been involved in the first place in a context that was contrary to what had been the clear understanding, supposedly, of all those agreements. But this was part and parcel of the effort to bend over backwards in order to try to show, on the part of Israel, and so forth--including, by the way, when I say "bend over backwards," I mean tremendous pressure on the Israeli government from the United States to open up the Gaza borders and turn one of the entry points entirely over to the Palestinians.

I think we're seeing some of these chickens now come home to roost in the form of this greater extremism, which, I believe, sadly, was encouraged by a policy that was not consistent in its application of the rubric of our anti-terror policy. We should not have been standing for the participation of Hamas, and we should not have regarded it as some kind of concession to go back on the understanding that this kind of element was not to be involved in any legitimate political process.

But, we did. And I think it was partly because of this wishful thinking that has been reflected in our policy for a long time: the belief that without necessarily confronting the demons of violence and terrorism in the Palestinian community, one could still engage in negotiations that were based on concessions.

And the final, the final indignity of the whole process? You can now read commentaries where people are saying, "Well, Hamas came to power because Israel didn't make enough in the way of concessions." I think that's a travesty.

SINGER: All right. Ambassador, just a quick question for you. Harvard University, Lawrence Summers. This is your alma mater. You got your Ph.D. at Harvard. Is there any doubt in your mind why Summers was fired after a few years at the head?

KEYES: Well, I don't think there is. And what I find interesting is that even some of the voices that are not identified with the so-called "right-wing" or conservatism have raised the possibility--and more than the possibility, the likelihood--that this reflects excessive influence by a clique of left-wing people on the faculty, reflecting the kind of hold they now have on faculties in some of the major universities around the country, so that somebody who wasn't even in one sense a conservative of any kind (he was a liberal), and yet he simply had the audacity to speak some common sense occasionally, and it was deeply offensive to these folks. And they refused to tolerate it, and have essentially, I think, stirred up trouble to purge him from that position.

So, I think it's an illustration of the fact that the Middle East isn't the only place where we can see some of these minority but extremist elements taking over and determining the situation.

SINGER: All right. Absolutely fascinating. Ambassador Keyes, I want to thank you for joining us here on Israel National Radio. You are a voice of reason, and we thank you for standing up and speaking out. Thank you for joining us here on the air.

KEYES: I'm always glad to be with you. Thank you.

SINGER: Thank you.

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