Colin Powell

Colin Powell

IT IS YET ANOTHER PARADOX IN A PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN year that has abounded with them: Texas Governor George W. Bush won less than 20 per cent of the Jewish American vote, and far more Arab‑American votes than his opponent, Vice‑President Al Gore. Yet in the end, Bush may be surrounded by even more pro‑Israel advisers than Gore would have been.

His top two foreign‑policy officials are expected to be African‑Americans General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as Secretary of State; and Condoleeza Rice, former head of the Soviet desk at the National Security Council, as National Security Adviser. Both have strong Jewish connections.

Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, speaks Yiddish, which he learned as a boy. He has won the hearts of American Jewish audiences, including those at the annual policy conferences of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, with a fluency few of them could have matched.

General Powell was an advocate of sending Patriot antiballistic missile batteries to defend Israel from Iraqi Scud attacks during the 1991 Gulf War. He has always shown strong sympathy with the Jewish state.

Ms Rice numbers among her own close advisers Richard Haas, director of foreign policy and security studies at Washington’s prestigious Brookings Institution, and Dov Zakheim, former deputy undersecretary of defence under President Reagan. Both are Jewish. Zakheim, in fact, has semichah [rabbinic ordination].