ollings rips AIPAC
By Matthew E. Berger
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Ernest "Fritz" Hollings is ending his 38 years in the Senate with a typical bang--and one that a number of Jewish groups could do without.
In a speech May 20 on the Senate floor, the South Carolina Democrat blasted the pro-Israel lobby for the second time last month and suggested that presidents and lawmakers for years have followed policy prescribed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"You can't have an Israel policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here," Hollings said. "I have followed them mostly in the main, but I have also resisted signing certain letters from time to time, to give the poor president a chance."
Hollings, who is retiring this year at age 82, took to the floor to defend a column he wrote in a newspaper in his home state last month, suggesting that the Bush administration went to war in Iraq on Israel's behalf.
Several American Jewish organizations reacted strongly to Hollings' column, suggesting he was scapegoating the Jewish community and providing ammunition for anti-Semitic attacks.
"I don't apologize for this column," Hollings said. "I want them to apologize to me for talking about anti-Semitism."
And he reiterated his view that the Iraq war was fought for Israel.
"That is not a conspiracy. That is the policy," he said. "Everybody knows it because we want to secure our friend, Israel."
Hollings also said he spoke out of concern for Israel and the dangers he believes the war raised for the Jewish state.
"I think, frankly, we have caused more terrorism than we have gotten rid of," he said.
He also suggested that the United States is no longer an evenhanded broker between Israel and the Palestinians, catering instead to Sharon.
"We are throwing over the United States-Israel policy of some 35 years insofar as negotiating the settlements and the refugees," he said. "We are saying, 'Forget about all of that, let Sharon keep bulldozing them.'"