Long before Tony Soprano, New Jersey had a bad name, the seemingly negative mirror image of glittering cross-river New York City. It was the place from where Frank Sinatra launched his success, never to return again. Even though it does not lack wealthy suburbs and elegant estates, in the popular imagination New Jersey symbolizes corruption and sleaze. "North Louisiana," gloated the Wall Street Journal, which hopes to see the Democrats - who claim to struggle for the oppressed and against the fat cats - involved in scandals no less than the Republicans.
The latest scandal, the resignation of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, is made up of the American holy trinity: money, sex, and politics. McGreevey's rivals have been charging for more than two years that he is using his political power to pay off his allies, supporters, and just plain friends. His confession to being a homosexual and having extramarital "consenting adult relations" shocked many of his citizens in New Jersey, in both form and substance - though not all. Internet discussion forums for months have seen anonymous hints as thick as the industrial smokestacks - when someone there wondered what made McGreevey take a particular position on single-sex marriages, someone wrote: Hint: Golan Cipel.
The McGreevey-Cipel pair, they and their lawyers, are now caught in a dispute over the facts: was there a relationship, and if so, was it coerced; and did Golan try to blackmail Jim or did he just take the conventional step of naming a price (only 10 percent, $5 million, instead of $50 million) to cancel the threat of a suit over sexual harassment? Those are the romantic aspects that turned into the criminal, according to McGreevey, or the criminal without the romantic, according to Cipel.
But they were preceded by an aspect that is a departure from the usual ups and downs of a male couple: the suspicion first launched at the governor in 2002 when he named Golan - who had neither ability nor the right citizenship - that he was exposing New Jersey to treason on behalf of Israel. In the imaginary clash between Israel and New Jersey, McGreevey's rivals charged, the governor's advisor on security affairs who makes $110,000 a year might be loyal to his own homeland - where he is counted among its reservists! - and not to his adopted state which is exposed to attacks.
Maybe there are some who scoff at the idea of a war between New Jersey and Israel - which is often described as being "about the size of New Jersey" to give Americans an indication of Israel's size - but there should be no scoffing at how deep the feverish charges of dual loyalty of Israel and Jews can go. Nobody would say that the Greek background of former CIA director George Tenet made him tilt toward the land of his forefathers, neither against Washington nor in the old quarrel between Athens and Ankara. Nobody would suspect the Portuguese backgrounds of Terese Heinz Kerry or Dina Matos McGreevey had them plotting on behalf of Lisbon. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and CENTCOM Gen. John Abizaid are of Arab descent. Congressman Peter Hoekstra was born in Holland and lives in Holland, Michigan. There are a million other examples.
The difference, in one word, is Pollard, and in three words, "I deserve it." Nearly 19 years after Jonathan Pollard was arrested - a Jew, and in intelligence, and in the navy, and for pay - he continues to symbolize Israeli arrogance. Everyone spies, French on America and vice versa, but only Israel, when it is caught, behaves as if America is the one that should be ashamed because it did not give Israel what Israel deserved to have and forced it to steal.
Bill Clinton notes in his memoirs that not only did Tenet threaten to resign when the president played with the idea of freeing Pollard at the request of then premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the Wye summit, but so did Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, both Jews. When the campaigns for freeing Pollard are at high tide, former admirals and former naval intelligence officers speak out against him and Israel. Most are ready to believe the Liberty was attacked by accident. They are certain that Pollard was no rogue operation.
New Jersey will survive. Jim and Golan might even patch up their relationship. Israel will continue to carry the millstone of double loyalty. When he came out of the closet, McGreevey chose to declare "I am a gay American," meaning, "I cheated on my wife, the institution of family, myself - but not my country."
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