National Commentary

Maureen Dowd: Rudy Roughs Up Arabs

WASHINGTON — Now comes "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."

David Horowitz's conservative Freedom Center has designated next week the time to "break through the barrier of politically correct doublespeak that prevails on American campuses, if you want to help our brave troops, who are fighting the Islamo-Fascists abroad."

The Freedom Center's terrorism awareness program is urging college students to stage sit-ins outside the offices of women's studies departments to protest "the silence of feminists over the oppression of women in Islam" and to distribute pamphlets on Islamo-Fascism. Their titles include "The Islamic Mein Kampf," "Why Israel is the Victim" and "Jimmy Carter's War Against the Jews."

Even before Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, the Republican presidential candidates were pitching in Tuesday at the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory 2008 Forum here.

"I don't know if you've noticed this about the Democratic debates," Rudy Giuliani said, "but they never use the word 'Islamic terrorist.' Ever."

"They have a very hard time getting those words out of their mouth," he continued, to the delight of his listeners. "I think it's quite clear to me now, having listened to seven or eight of their debates, that they think it's politically incorrect to say the words. I don't know exactly who they think they're offending. I don't know what kind of view of the world they have. I understand when I say 'Islamic terrorism,' I'm not offending all of Islam. I'm not offending all of the Arab world. I'm offending exactly who I want to offend and making it clear to them that we stand against them."

As the phlegmatic Fred Thompson plummeted in the polls and made a lackluster appearance at the forum, a juiced Giuliani preened in front of an audience that loved him.

He went through his greatest hits: The time he yanked Yasser Arafat out of Lincoln Center during a performance of Beethoven's Ninth. "The thing that really bothered me was, he didn't have a ticket," Rudy recalled. "He was a freeloader!"

The time he tossed back a $10 million check for 9/11 families from the Saudi prince who urged America to "adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."

"You know, Israel's not perfect, and America's not perfect, but we're not terrorist states," he said.

There has been much discussion about liberal Rudy stances on guns, gays, abortion, divorce and comic cross-dressing that are well-suited to Manhattan but not to GOP primary voters. But there's also his bear hug with Israel, so hearty that even W.'s embrace seems tepid by comparison.

But Rudy seems out of the Republican mainstream on even giving lip-service to Palestinian aspirations. He has no patience for buttering up the Arabs, or the Republican men's club attitude represented by Saudi-loving Bush senior and James Baker that has always favored a more "even-handed" policy in the Middle East.

Baker once reportedly justified the tough policy of the Bush 41 administration toward Israel with the notorious comment to a colleague: "[Expletive] the Jews. They didn't vote for us, anyway."

W. blew off the Baker-Hamilton panel suggestions on Iraq that urged the administration to aggressively referee the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, to begin negotiations with Iran and Syria and called for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. Imagine what Rudy would do.

Even though he has been far closer to Israel than his dad, at least W. held the Saudi crown prince's hand in Crawford. (Bush senior and Dick Cheney were very tight with Saudi Prince Bandar. At a party at the vice president's mansion once, I watched Bandar greet the waiters like old friends.)

Rudy would probably only take the hand of an Arab leader to throw him down a ravine, or a wadi.

"We need to isolate the terror-funding theocrats in every way possible," he told the Jewish hawks, during a rant on Iran. "And we must end direct and indirect investment until they change their course."

Rudy lambasted Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for their "strong Democratic desire to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and negotiate."

Tuesday night, when he and Judi were interviewed by Fox's Sean Hannity, Rudy ratcheted it up, saying that Hillary's "ambiguity" and "shifting of position" on Iran was "a dangerous tendency, I think, in somebody that aspires to take on a position where you have got to be pretty darn decisive."

He also bored in where Obama has been skittish about going: her experience. "Honestly, in most respects, I don't know Hillary's experience. She's never run a city. She's never run a state. She's never run a business. She has never met a payroll. She has never been responsible for the safety and security of millions of people, much less even hundreds of people."

He assured everyone he'd learned how to put his cell phone on vibrate. But he left himself at full volume.

c.2007 New York Times News Service