Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is to deliver the keynote at this weekend’s J Street conference, a gathering of left-wing activists opposed to the Israeli government and to recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Baker, who served under President George H.W. Bush, is also advising Gov. Jeb Bush on foreign policy in his presidential effort–at Bush’s invitation. Baker is considered hostile to Israel and is controversial among Jewish voters.
As the Algemeiner notes:
Baker is of course infamous for reportedly saying in private conversation, while George HW Bush’s secretary of state, “F**k the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.”
But his antipathy towards Israel is well documented. He wanted the US to punish Israel for destroying Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. He hated Netanyahu as early as 1990, barring him from entering the State Department’s building. And last but not least, he co-wrote the Iraq Study Group’s 2006 paper that recommended (among other things) that the US tilt its foreign policy away from Israel and towards Syria and Iran, advice that President Obama seems to have taken to heart.
The J Street conference will also feature Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, a firebrand who propagated the lie that Israel committed a “massacre” during counter-terror operations in Jenin in 2002. The Obama administration is sending White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to headline the conference. J Street actively opposes Benjamin Netanyahu and the conference is expected to provide an opportunity for his American critics to vent.
Baker told Larry King earlier this week on that he is on “Team Jeb”: “Frankly, I have talked to Governor Bush a little bit about foreign policy, and he talked to me about listing me as one of his advisors, and I said I’d be honored to be listed.”
He also criticized the Republican Senators who had signed a letter to the leaders of Iran warning them that any nuclear deal would have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate to have lasting effect. “I’m a creature of the executive branch,” Baker said.