The same week Gary Rosenblatt published his front page column, “Laying Blame For ‘The Israel Problem’” (May 13), a Guatemalan court found Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator who ruled Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. When these genocidal crimes were taking place, Elliott Abrams [whose essay on the drift between Israel and American Jews is key to the Rosenblatt column] acted as the general’s champion and enabler in the U.S. government.
Abrams sought to ensure that the general received more weapons with fewer restrictions, and he attacked the character and loyalty of those who sought to point out what was going on. (This is independent of the crimes for which he was convicted, and later pardoned related to the Iran/Contra scandal.)
Personally, I find it to be a matter of enormous shame, both for the Jewish community and for the Council on Foreign Relations, that a man who served as an enabler and apologist for what is now legally defined and proven genocide to be treated as a figure of respect. Obviously these actions should have special meaning for the Jewish community.
I have written about this repeatedly for The Nation, but I think it would be useful to note it in The Jewish Week, where Jewish figures of responsibility would see it and perhaps ponder its implications.
CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism, Brooklyn College