Politics & Policy

Zunes, Kuwait & More


It has recently been brought to my attention that I was quoted in a National Review Online story (“A Saudi Education, Right Here at Home“) as saying “Zionist money is de facto U.S. foreign policy.”

I never said such a thing and I would consider any such comment exaggerating Jewish economic and political power as anti-Semitic.

Indeed, in a series of articles in such journals as Tikkun, Middle East Policy, Fellowship, Peace Review, New Political Science as well as in my book Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism, I argue explicitly that U.S. foreign policy, including Middle East policy, is not the result of the financial influence of ideological supporters of Israel, but is rooted primarily in what national security elites see to be in America’s strategic interests.

Furthermore, I would never even use the term “Zionist money,” which implies that Zionism is some kind of monolithic ideology. In reality, there is a great diversity of viewpoints among Zionists regarding Iraq, arms control, the United Nations, free trade, human rights and other foreign policy issues. Even in regard to U.S. policy toward Israel, I recognize that while more conservative Zionists advocate U.S. support for the policies of the current right-wing Israeli government, there are also left/Labour Zionists who believe the Bush Administration should take a tougher line with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

I am a critic of a number of policies of the U.S. and Israeli governments and most of your writers and editors could probably find some perspectives of mine with which you disagree. That is your right.

However, the National Review Online has no right to attribute quotes to me I never said or to claim that I take positions I do not believe.

Stephen Zunes

Associate Professor of Politics

University of San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif.

The quote attributed to Professor Zunes has been removed from the piece.–Editors


Let’s start by pointing out that the New York Yankees are the richest sports franchise in the world. Contrary to what Geoffrey Norman may believe, the Red Sox don’t fold each year. They never have a chance going into each year in trying to compete with a team that has and spends more money than anyone in the entire history of baseball. The fact that the Red Sox compete at least at bit is a tribute to their tenacity and persistence, rather than the insulting character flaw that Mr. Norman attributes to them.

Picture Bill Gates talking to a group of guys who are car enthusiasts, saying to them “I have had 29 Lamborghinis. How many Lamberghinis have you had?” What would the group think of Bill Gates?

W. E. Greenough

Hampstead, NC


To hold up Kuwait as a model of religious freedom in a Muslim culture (Doug Bandow, “Religious Freedom In a Muslim Culture“) manifests a curious blend of avoidance of inconvenient facts, ignorance of Islamic law, and apparent wishful thinking. Kuwait is not unique in the Muslim world for having Christian churches.

As any American Muslim activist will tell you, Islamic law specifically allows for Christians to worship freely in the churches in areas that ruled by Muslims. Saudi Arabia, which Bandow compares unfavorably to Kuwait, has no churches because the Muslim Prophet Muhammad specifically forbade the practice of any religion but Islam in that country, which is the Muslim Holy Land. But other countries Bandow lists as causing trouble for Christians do not differ from Kuwait in any significant way in their cultural or juridical attitudes toward Christians.

The sharia, which influences Muslim views of Christians and other non-Muslims even in countries where it is not currently the law of the land, does allow Christians freedom of worship, but this freedom is severely circumscribed–in Bandow’s Kuwait and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Not only can Christians not proselytize, as Bandow notes, but Muslims, in Kuwait as elsewhere, are forbidden on pain of death to convert to Christianity or any other religion. This severe restriction on the freedom of religion appears poignantly in Bandow’s piece: In his list of the marvelous smorgasbord of nations represented by people who attend the Church in Kuwait–”Ghana, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia,” and many more–Kuwait itself does not appear. In 1996, a Muslim convert to Christianity named Hussein Qambar Ali (now Robert Hussein) fled Bandow’s free Kuwait in fear of his life: He was facing forcible divorce and loss of all parental and inheritance rights, as well as the threat of execution, because of his conversion.

Bandow’s observation that Iraqis will need to begin to “respect the moral worth of all human beings” is true and laudable, but they will find no example of how to do so in the cowed and nervous Christian churches of Kuwait. Robert Hussein could tell you that.

Robert Spencer

Author, Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West

Washington, D.C.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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