MJ Rosenberg: Solarz was a great man, and a progressive on Israel-Palestine

I’ve run a couple posts knocking the late Steven Solarz for his support for Israel and the Iraq wars. MJ Rosenberg says I’m missing the real Solarz:
Steve was a close friend of mine. On I-P, he was one of the most progressive guys in Congress.  He was the first House member to meet with the PLO (it was a secret although it doesn’t matter now) back in the 70′s.  He did support the Gulf Wars BUT not because of Israel.  He honestly and mistakenly thought they were in the US interests.
He was constrained by his [Brooklyn] district, true, and there were certain things he had to say.
But he did so reluctantly and then hurried off to places like the Phillipines or issues like non-proliferation where he could do some real good. He was sometimes criticized for taking campaign contributions from  ethnic groups –Indian-Americans and Turks.  Not the lobby, which could not stand him. (They like their Jewish Reps to keep the eye on the only ball that matters: Israel).
He built a home in Turkey and spent as much time there as he could. He was about as unparochial as any Jew I ever met. The concept of “my people” was alien to him.
And the Israel-firsters in Congress repelled him, personally and privately.
Bottom line: yes, he was a hawk on the Iraq wars.  But not because of Israel, a country that he tried not to think about too much because, for 20 years now, it was a source for him of nothing but aggravation.
He was a great man.  The fact that he was defeated and his nemesis, Chuck Schumer, went to the Senate is a small-scale version of the defeat of John Quincy Adams by Andrew Jackson: a victory for a crass mediocrity over a global visionary.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Les says:

    Thanks for sharing Rosenberg’s words and giving Solarz his due due note.

  2. James North says:

    I’m very sympathetic to the views of the great MJ Rosenberg on Solarz. I recall that he was more progressive on foreign policy (southern Africa, Philippines, South Korea’s military dictatorship) than some may remember.

  3. SOLARZ WAS CERTAINLY RIGHT ABOUT THIS:
    Pakistan Still Seeking A-Weapons, Bush Is Told
    Foreign policy: Rep. Solarz suggests that Congress should cut off the U.S. aid program.

    L.A. Times, 09/24/1990
    WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs said Sunday that Pakistan seems to be going ahead with plans to obtain nuclear weapons and suggested that Congress should cut off the $600-million-a-year U.S. aid program to Islamabad.
    In a letter to President Bush, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) asserted that Pakistan has been violating pledges it made to the United States last year to limit its nuclear program. Under existing law, U.S. aid to Pakistan can continue only if the President assures Congress in writing that Pakistan does not have nuclear weapons…
    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to articles.latimes.com

    P.S. If Solarz had been listened to in Washington, we might have avoided seeing India and Pakistan acquire nuclear weapons. There is a lot more to the story and it involves the devious trio of “Pricky Dick” Cheney, “Scooter” Libby and Paul Wolfowitz.
    SEE: Richard Barlow and the A. Q. Khan Nuclear Proliferation Network – link to historycommons.org

  4. I have great respect for MR Rosenberg but sometimes when one gets too close to a person, one’s opinion often gets off kilter. If my sister was not traveling at the moment she would have added this comment that she emailed my on Nov. 30:

    “In addition to his addiction to Israel, the so-called “liberal” Steve Solarz was not adverse to covering up for US misdeeds. In late 1987, Fiji’s democratically elected government was overthrown by a military coup. The elected government of Timoci Bavadra had stated that like New Zealand it would not allow nuclear ships to dock at Fiji ports. In addition Bavadra planned to introduce a few socialist type measures to help Fiji’s poor.

    “Several months later his government was overthrown.

    “In 1988 I went to Fiji and met with the members of the Fiji Congress who had been arrested by men wearing ski masks and who had been addressed in American English. The ousted legislators had no doubt that those performing the coup were American troops.

    “They were likely correct. A few days earlier when we arrived at Fiji’s Nadi airport we spoke with a hotel employee who told us that 10 days before the coup an American C130 transport plane landed at the airport disgorging a number of American servicemen, some of whom visited the hotel. The plane stayed in Fiji for three weeks. The story was given out that they were waiting for parts. A rather unlikely story.

    “In addition, shortly before the coup two unsavory characters who had been involved in Iran-Contra visited Fiji. The page on which they signed their hotel reservation had been removed from the book.

    “We also met with President Bavadra who told us that he was absolutely certain that the US was very likely behind the coup.

    “When we returned home I called the House committee that dealt with Pacific issues. The committee was headed by Steve Solarz. I told the legislative aide what I had found in Fiji and asked if the committee had held any hearings. The response was that the committee had merely looked into the event and decided that they did not want to hold any hearings. That final decision had to have been made by Chairman Solarz who seemed to have no concern for the overthrow by America of another democratically elected government.”

  5. David Samel says:

    I have a very distinct and dismal recollection of Solarz during the first Gulf War, defending the depravity and gleefully attacking the West Bank Palestinians for supposedly cheering Saddam’s scud rocket attacks (which, it was feared, might be carrying chemincal weapons) while complaining that Israelis distributed gas masks only to themselves and not on the West Bank. Solarz was so distasteful that I could never view him as having any decency after that.