The Wisconsin landslide propels Cruz in California – and New Jersey


By Alan Steinberg

10438519_10208309971894571_6898427630477217304_nTed Cruz did not just prevail in Wisconsin Tuesday night – he won a landslide.  And that has major positive ramifications for him in the primary finale of the campaign in both New Jersey and California on Tuesday, June 7.

A bit of context is in order.  The California GOP primary is presidential winner take all three delegates in each of the 53 Congressional districts, plus 10 at-large delegates to the statewide winner plus three Republican National Committee delegates (state GOP chair plus national committee man and woman), a total of 172 delegates.  In New Jersey, all 51 delegates are bound to vote for the presidential primary winner on the first ballot.

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Posted: April 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Politics, Alan Steinberg, Opinion | Tags: , , | Comments Off on The Wisconsin landslide propels Cruz in California – and New Jersey

Phil Murphy — A Bloomberg, Not a Corzine

By Alan J. Steinberg

Alan J. Steinberg

Alan J. Steinberg

Initially, I thought Phil Murphy, as a candidate for the New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2017 would be the second coming of John Corzine – a well-meaning yet out-of-touch gubernatorial candidate who would be unable to communicate effectively with middle class and working class New Jerseyans.

Murphy had been appointed by former Acting Governor Dick Codey in 2005 to chair an advisory commission regarding the state pension shortfall.  The commission’s implicit recommendation was a $12.1 billion tax hike – political suicide in New Jersey.  To me, this was the forerunner of the Jon Corzine asset monetization/toll hike proposal which doomed him in his reelection campaign against Chris Christie in 2009.

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Posted: December 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Alan Steinberg, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Booker is not a lock

By Alan Steinberg

alan steinbergDon’t believe for one minute that Cory Booker’s victory in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary in August is a lock.

Let me say that Cory Booker is a good friend of mine.  He and I had an excellent personal and working relationship while I served as Region 2 EPA Administrator under President George W. Bush.  I actually think that he would make an outstanding U.S. Senator.

There must be something in the poll data, however, that makes both Rush Holt and Frank Pallone think that they can defeat Booker in the August primary. I would say that Booker’s chances of winning the primary are 65 per cent, but no greater.  If Democratic Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver runs, Booker’s chances of a primary victory will be reduced – by how much I do not know.

If Cory Booker wins the August primary, however, he will be elected U.S. Senator in October and will be there for life.

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Posted: June 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 U.S. Senate race, Senate Special Election | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

My fellow Republicans: Abortion takes an innocent life – same sex marriage does not

By Alan Steinberg

I am a pro-life person and opposed to abortion, except in order to save the life of the mother. Many times, my beliefs on social and moral issues are based on Orthodox Judaism, my religion, Orthodox Judaism is somewhat complex on the abortion issue, although far more pro-life than pro-choice. My pro-life views, however, are based upon my own study of the science of the issue. I believe that a fetus is life, and since I venerate life, I oppose abortion, except to save the life of the mother.

By the way, there have been over the years a multitude of statements, including from that great Torah sage, Gloria Allred, claiming that on the abortion issue, Judaism is pro-choice. While my political and moral beliefs on abortion are not based upon the Torah and the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, they are not inconsistent with them either. If somebody wants to read a short, concise summary of Orthodox Judaism and the abortion issue, I recommend the following page from the Aish HaTorah website:


My views on the same sex marriage issue are another matter.

Orthodox Judaism is vehemently anti-homosexuality. Yet I read something recently on the Chabad Lubavitch website which really hit home with me: “Torah law expressly forbids the specific act of male homosexuality. And we do know this: Torah law forbids bigotry; homophobia is prohibited.”

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Posted: February 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Abortion, Alan Steinberg, Gay Marriage, marriage, Marriage Equality, Same Sex Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Hillary Clinton Would Have Been A Much Better President Than Barack Obama

By Alan Steinberg

The Internet and print media are replete with comments of Democratic leaders and rank-and-file expressing “buyer’s remorse” over their party’s selection of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee in 2008. Obama’s political ineptitude and pathetic lack of policy insight have been magnified before the national electorate during the debt ceiling wars and the financial markets’ free fall. Unless unemployment drops below eight percent by September, 2012, Obama will not be reelected, regardless of the identity of his Republican opponent.


My normal reaction would be to say, “Far be it from me to comment on Democratic Party internal travails.” As a long time New Jersey GOP stalwart, however, I have the following shameful confession to make. I had a surprisingly good working relationship with the then New York U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and her staff while I served as Region 2 EPA Regional Administrator during the second term of President George W. Bush. I certainly would never support her for President, but if I had to have a Democratic President, I would far rather have her than a Barack Obama.

I had substantial interaction with Hillary Clinton – direct substantial interaction, because she often would pick up the phone herself to call me. I dealt extensively with her on post- 9-11 matters, and to her credit, she kept these matters out of partisan politics. She had a deep, genuine interest in the environment, and she was always most appreciative when I would brief her on subjects as to which she was unfamiliar, such as the Filtration Avoidance Determination for New York City water.



Unlike Obama, Hillary Clinton was willing to work closely with Republican members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to achieve bipartisan goals. This was confirmed for me in conversations I had with my closest friend in the New York State Republican Congressional delegation, the then Representative Jim Walsh, who represented the Syracuse area.

Jim Walsh and I had similar experiences of bipartisan cooperation with Hillary Clinton. This was in sharp contrast to our working experiences with the disgraced former Governor Eliot Spitzer, a political Sonny Liston, who was a vulgar, offensive and profane cowardly partisan bully, without ethical scruples. Both of us had experienced ugly confrontations with the then New York governor – from which neither Jim nor I backed down. Unlike Hillary, who was gracious and dignified, Eliot Spitzer gave new meaning to the term “political thug”.

Another distinguishing feature of the then Senator Hillary Clinton was her Senate staff. On the Democratic side of the aisle, she had the most competent staff of any Senator, with the exception of the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s Labor Committee staff. Her record of Senate accomplishment stood in sharp contrast to that of the junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who established a record of substantial nonachievement.

So in late 2007, I was certain that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 2008. I had no doubt that she would have a campaign staff as competent as her Senatorial staff. I felt that with the supreme political skills of both her husband Bill and herself, she would easily defeat Barack Obama.

I was therefore shocked by the incompetency of both her campaign and campaign staff. I was even further surprised when she accepted Obama’s appointment of her as Secretary of State.

Had Hillary Clinton remained in the U.S. Senate, I am convinced that she could have eventually achieved the stature of the late Senator Ted Kennedy or an Orrin Hatch, senators respected on both sides of the political aisle for their ability to achieve bipartisan cooperation in pursuit of the public good.

Instead, she became the spokesperson for a failed foreign policy with which, I believe, she often disagrees.

Rumor in Washington has it that Hillary will be leaving the Obama administration in the spring of 2012 to become the president of the World Bank. This would enable her to independently have influence on the world economy. There is no doubt as to her competency in this new position.

In retrospect, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary positioned herself as a highly qualified and ready future President of the United States. By contrast, Barack Obama was campaigning as a national political rock star and messiah. He was a senator without accomplishments, yet his charisma won over Hillary’s competence and experience.

It seems to me that Democrats throughout the nation now comprehend this all too clearly. For the remainder of this administration, increasing numbers of Democrats will continue to express remorse for voting for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008. This is scant comfort to Hillary, whose hopes of becoming President are effectively gone.

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.


Posted: August 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Kyrillos is a Solid Reaganite Conservative

By Alan Steinberg

The primary election for the Republican nomination for United States Senate in 2012 now appears to be a contest between two members of the New Jersey State Senate, Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County and Mike Doherty of Warren County. Kyrillos served in the State Assembly from 1988 until 1991 and in the state senate since then. Doherty served in the State Assembly from 2002 until 2009 and in the State Senate from 2009 until the present.The contest has been depicted in the media and in some political quarters as a race between a conservative Doherty and a moderate Kyrillos. This is, however, a most inaccurate portrayal.

Joe Kyrillos is a solid Reaganite conservative. By contrast, Mike Doherty is a Ron Paul conservative. Doherty supported Ron Paul for President in the 2008 election.

Senator Doherty has emphasized as his defining conservative issue his Fair School Funding plan, which he has introduced in the State Senate in the form of a bill. Under this legislation, each school district would receive state aid based upon a per pupil amount, multiplied by the number of its students.

The Doherty plan would clearly be held to be unconstitutional by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Under its Abbott v. Burke line of cases, the court has shifted a disproportionate amount of state aid from suburban districts to the state urban “special needs” districts. Senator Doherty’s legislation is effective in making a point, but ineffective in making change.

By contrast, in 1992, Senator Kyrillos proposed a constitutional amendment which would have been far more effective in preserving suburban state school aid. This measure would have effectively superseded Abbott v. Burke and limited the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Supreme Court to intervene in state school funding matters.

Specifically, the Kyrillos amendment would have prohibited the New Jersey Supreme Court from requiring that any school district be funded in an amount in excess of 120 percent of the state per pupil average. The amendment was considered at a joint Assembly-Senate public hearing in July, 1992.

The liberal media in New Jersey harshly criticized the Kyrillos amendment as having an anti-minority impact. At the public hearing, urban school officials and activists denounced the amendment as racist. In the face of these attacks, the amendment failed to get the necessary support of 24 Senators and 48 Assembly members for placement on the November, 1992 ballot.

In sponsoring and advocating this amendment however, Joe Kyrillos demonstrated both his judicial conservatism and political courage. In the election of that same year of 1992, Kyrillos ran against incumbent Frank Pallone for the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet he still sponsored the amendment, refusing to sacrifice his judicial conservatism as an expediency of the election.

The judicial conservatism of Joe Kyrillos was also much in evidence on November 14, 2006. On that day, he was the only member of the State Senate to vote against granting tenure to New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia.

Earlier in 2011, Justice LaVecchia issued the court opinion requiring the state to give the urban 31 districts an additional $500 million. In assessing the Kyrillos vote on Justice LaVecchia’s tenure back in 2006, one must understand that he would oppose the granting of tenure to any justice he perceived to be legislating from the bench rather than strictly interpreting the law.

Joe Kyrillos has a connection to the presidency of Ronald Reagan deeper than that of any other current elected official in New Jersey. He began his career as a special assistant to the then Secretary of the Interior Don Hodel during the second term of the Reagan administration.

After the completion of the Reagan administration, Hodel later served as president of the Christian Coalition from 1997 until 1999 and as president of Focus on the Family from 2003 until 2005. The social conservatism of his mentor, Don Hodel influenced Joe Kyrillos as well. It was much in evidence during the second term of the Whitman administration, when Kyrillos sponsored a constitutional amendment banning all third trimester abortions.

The tax reduction and pro-business ideology of Ronald Reagan has constituted the core of the conservative, free market philosophy of Senator Joe Kyrillos. He was a leading advocate of the Whitman income tax cuts. Most significantly, Kyrillos made history by his authorship and sponsorship of the New Jersey Business Employment Incentive Program, which gives rebates to companies who create a substantial number of new jobs.

Kyrillos also demonstrates his appreciation of the Reagan style by his effectiveness in securing the passage of legislation. While he is loyal to his conservative principles, he works well with senators of different political parties and divergent ideologies. Joe Kyrillos has demonstrated the ability to not only talk conservative change, but make it as well.

In writing this column, I do not mean to imply in any way that Mike Doherty is not a conservative. I simply want to correct any misperceptions about Joe Kyrillos. Far from being a moderate, he is the ultimate Reaganite conservative.

I must make a full disclosure, however. Joe Kyrillos is a good friend of mine. That is something of which I am most proud.


Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.

Posted: August 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Joe Kyrillos, NJ GOP | Tags: , , | 17 Comments »

In 2012, Barack Obama will replace Joe Biden with Kay Hagan as his running mate

By Alan Steinberg, originally posted at Politickernj

Prediction:  In early 2012, President Barack Obama will announce that if he is reelected, he will appoint Vice President Joe Biden to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.


During the first week of September, 2012, North Carolina will be in the national spotlight as the Democrats gather in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.  Yet two weeks before the convention, North Carolina will previously be the focus of national attention as Obama announces that his Vice Presidential running mate will be that state’s junior U.S. Senator, Democrat Kay Hagan.


There are two key reasons why Obama will select Hagan.  First, as I will explain below, North Carolina is the decisive state in the 2012 election:  the Presidential candidate who wins North Carolina will win the election.  Second, in unseating former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2008, Hagan demonstrated superb political and communication skills that would make her a definite asset to the Obama reelection campaign.


The more compelling of these two factors is the importance of North Carolina in the 2012 Presidential race.  To understand this, one must examine next year’s electoral map, realizing that events could certainly change the outlook in critical states.  It is not too early, however, to do a preliminary evaluation.


The Republican 2012 Presidential nominee will have a strong likelihood of winning all the states won by John McCain in 2008.  By contrast, Obama will definitely lose certain states won by him in the 2008 contest.


To begin with, it is not too early to say that Obama will lose Florida to the GOP nominee.  Real estate values are declining significantly in the Sunshine State, and Obama’s tilt towards the Arabs in the Middle East has resulted in a major loss of support for him in the state’s large Jewish community.  A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday showed Obama receiving a 52-44 per cent job disapproval among Florida voters.  Furthermore, the poll reported the Florida electorate stating by a 51-42 percent vote that the President does not deserve reelection.


Another key factor in favor of the GOP in Florida in the 2012 Presidential sweepstakes:  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is likely to be the GOP nominee for Vice President, now that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made it clear he will not accept the nomination for the second spot. 


The year 2012 will probably be a year of modest economic recovery, but not in the nation’s Rust Belt.  Obama won both Ohio and Indiana in 2008, two states that George W. Bush won in both 2000 and 2004.  It is highly unlikely that the President will carry either of these two Rust Belt states in 2012.


In 2008, Obama won in Virginia, a state no Democratic presidential candidate had carried since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  In the 2010 Congressional elections, however, Republicans won eight of the state’s eleven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including two Democratic incumbent seats.  The anti-Obama trend in Virginia is evident – the state will likely return to the Republican fold in the 2012 Presidential race.


Similarly, while Obama carried New Hampshire in 2008, a strong anti-Obama trend was the key factor in the GOP triumphs in the Granite State’s 2010 elections.  The New Hampshire GOP succeeded in 1) electing Kelly Ayotte as the new Republican U.S. senator; 2) capturing both of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; and 3) nearly unseating a popular Democratic governor, John Lynch.  At this point, the anti-Obama trend in New Hampshire is likely to continue, and the odds are in favor of the GOP Presidential nominee capturing the state in 2012.


Under the new electoral vote map resulting from the 2010 census, the switch of Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and New Hampshire from Obama to his Republican 2012 Presidential challenger would result in the President retaining a base of 268 electoral votes and his Republican challenger controlling 255.  A candidate must win 270 electoral votes in order to be elected President.  Therefore, under this scenario, the winner of North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes would win the 2012 election.


Until 2008, the Republicans had carried North Carolina in every Presidential election since 1980.  Obama, however, carried the state in 2008, albeit by a razor thin margin of four tenths of a percentage point.  He does have at least an even money chance of winning the state in 2012.  The key factor in Obama’s favor will be the state’s large African-American vote and its rapidly growing Hispanic community, as shown by the 2010 census.


It is also noteworthy that in the 2010 Congressional races, the anti-Obama trend prevailing in Virginia and New Hampshire was not in evidence in North Carolina.  The Democrats retained seven of the state’s thirteen seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a good off-year election showing.


In the 2012 Presidential race, in North Carolina, history favors the Republicans, while demographics and recent trends favor Obama.  If Obama selects Kay Hagan as his running mate, he will be a definite favorite to win North Carolina, the decisive state in the 2012 Presidential race, and with that, his reelection. 


So I am predicting that Barack Obama will select Kay Hagan as his 2012 Vice Presidential running mate.  I expect all the comments about how foolish it is for any political pundit to predict such an outcome so far in advance of the election, especially before the Republicans select their Presidential candidate.  If you see Obama-Hagan bumper stickers in 2012, however, remember that you read it here first.


 Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.  

Posted: April 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Egypt and Israel – Two New Jersey Stories

Originally published on Politickernj


I am following the street uprisings in Egypt with a most profound sense of apprehension. There is no doubt in my mind as to the ultimate dreadful outcome.


President Hosni Mubarak will be deposed within the next three months.  Although leading dissident and former United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei will be the new nominal leader of the Egyptian government, real power will be held by the Muslim Brotherhood.  One can expect that within days after the Muslim Brotherhood gains control, the Egyptian government will sever diplomatic relations with Israel and withdraw its recognition of the Jewish State’s right to exist.


Just as Iran serves as a base for Shiite Islamic terrorism, Egypt will serve as a base for Sunni Islamic terrorism.  Iran presently is the patron of the terrorist Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, and Egypt will henceforth be the patron for Hamas terrorist forces in Gaza.   While Mubarak blocked access to forces attempting to provide weapons to Hamas from the Sinai, one can expect that the Sinai will now become a superhighway through which Hamas will be supplied the most sophisticated terrorist military equipment.


Historically, there has been real antipathy between Sunni and Shiite nations, as exemplified by the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.  The hatred that Sunni and Shiite Muslim fundamentalists feel towards Israel, however, has resulted in recent collaboration between the terrorist Shiite state of Iran and the terrorist Sunni forces of Hamas.  One can expect that eventually, the historic animus between Sunni and Shiite Muslims will result in Egypt and Iran becoming bitter adversarial nations.


 Sunni and Shiite Muslim fundamentalists both want to destroy Israel and expel the Jews from the Middle East, however.  Accordingly, when it comes to Israel, the new government in Egypt and the government in Iran will cooperate in efforts to utilize their respective terrorist subsidiaries, Hamas and Hezbollah to make life unbearable for the people of Israel.


Accordingly, within the next few years, Israel will be compelled to reoccupy Gaza to crush Hamas terrorism.  Eventually, this will bring Israel into conflict with Egypt. 


My pessimistic analysis is not only based on my perspective as a strong Jewish supporter of Israel. 


As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, I studied the Arab world in depth under the tutelage of the late Dr. Ibrahim Abu-LuGhod, a Palestinian Arab who was one of the two representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who met with former Secretary of State George Shultz after the United States opened diplomatic contacts with the PLO at the end of the Reagan administration, the other representative being the late Dr. Edward Said of Columbia University.  


 Under Dr. Abu-LuGhod’s direction, I completed an independent study course on the politics of the Arab world.  With his assistance, I wrote my political science honors thesis on the Palestinian Arab nationalist movement. 


Sadly, my knowledge of the Middle East leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the peace between Israel and Egypt, which has existed since 1977 and for which a great man, former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat gave his life, will soon be at its end.  Many observers have termed it a “cold peace”.


 Two New Jersey stories demonstrate, however, that this peace was much warmer than most people realize.  The first story involved former Governor Christie Whitman, in whose administration I proudly served, an excellent governor and a classy and great lady.  The second story involved a person I love most dearly and of whom I am most proud, my son Neil. 




I served as Assistant Commissioner of the former Department of Commerce and Economic Development during the first term of the Whitman administration and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission during the second term.  I also had  another role in which I served unofficially as a liaison for Governor Whitman with the New Jersey Jewish community.


In this role, I reviewed and gave recommendations on invitations Governor Whitman received to appear before Jewish religious and secular organizations.  Her speechwriters also sent to me for my review speeches to be presented before Jewish audiences.  Finally, I was often a “point person” with whom Jewish leaders met to convey to the Governor their concerns about various issues affecting the Jewish community.


All this was a labor of love for me.  I can say without hyperbole that Governor Whitman had the best relationship with a statewide Jewish community of any governor in the nation during her tenure.  The strong support she received from the Jewish community was a key factor in her reelection in 1997. 


Governor Whitman’s personal and governmental relationship with the State of Israel was unique among American governors of her era.  It began with her trip to Israel in 1992, prior to her becoming governor in 1994.  During her initial visit to Israel, Israeli leaders such as the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin actually sought her friendship.  Once elected as governor, Whitman became the national leader among American governors on economic development issues.  This was a key factor in the increasing trade and mutual investment between New Jersey and Israeli businesses during the 1990s.


I served as one of the coordinators of Governor Whitman’s 1996 trade mission to Israel in which over one hundred companies participated, together with various New Jersey governmental and political leaders and media.  This trip took place twenty-one months after the Whitman administration opened New Jersey’s first trade office in Israel in the city of Ra’anana.


Thus, it should not have surprised me how Governor Whitman was received by Israelis on that trip as a beloved American leader.  The Jerusalem Post ran a story about her as a future American President.  Everywhere she went, Israelis enthusiastically wanted to greet her. 


The adulation of the Israeli public for Christie Whitman did not stop with that trade mission.  Two years later, in 1998, I was informed that the Orthodox Jewish outreach organization, Aish HaTorah had invited her to Jerusalem to receive their Friend of Zion Award.


I recommended with alacrity that Governor Whitman accept this award.  Aish HaTorah has an outstanding reputation in both Israel and the United States for not only its religious outreach but also its good communal works.  The organization has received the endorsement of both Jewish and Gentile prominent American politicians and show business people.


In the process of planning the trip, I received a phone call from the Governor’s office as to the possibility of her visiting Egypt after the Jerusalem Aish HaTorah event.  This had been suggested by one of Governor Whitman’s friends.


The trip to Egypt was easily arranged for Governor Whitman by her close Israeli friend, Ze’ev Bielski, the then Mayor of Ra’anana and today a member of the K’nesset, Israel’s parliament.  The fact that Governor Whitman was coming to Egypt from Israel, a nation with whom Egypt had fought four wars made no difference. Her trip to Egypt went smoothly, and the Egyptians with whom she met treated her most warmly.


Regardless of the state of relations then existing between the governments of Israel and Egypt, it was clear from the Whitman visit and the ease of arranging the trip between Bielski and his Egyptian counterparts that relations between the peoples of Israel and Egypt had improved considerably since the Sadat 1977 visit to Jerusalem.  How much relations had warmed between the two peoples became abundantly clear to me as a result of experiences of my son, Neil, in Israel during the academic year of 2000-2001.




Neil graduated from the University of Maryland in 2002 with a double degree in government and psychology.  He spent his junior year, 2000-2001 in the University Study-Abroad Program as a student in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Rothberg International School.


That academic year was a most difficult one for the Rothberg International School.  Another Palestinian Arab intifada began with the Temple Mount Palestinian Arab riots in September, 2000, which Neil saw from his dorm on Mount Scopus and described to me over the phone as they were happening. 


As a result of the intifada, the Rothberg School incurred a withdrawal of 300 of its 400 students during that academic year of 2000-2001.  I am proud that Neil was one of the 100 students who remained enrolled in the Rothberg School throughout that entire academic year.


I must say that during that year, I felt more tension than Neil.  Every time I would read on the Internet about some terrorist attack in Jerusalem, I would call him.  He was fine – I was a nervous wreck.


One time during the spring of 2001, Neil had an academic break of ten days.  I called him from New Jersey and asked where he was going.  He responded, “To Dahab.”


I asked him, “Where’s Dahab?  I never heard of that place?”


He responded, “It’s a resort in the Sinai, in Egypt.”


I shouted into the phone loud enough for him to hear me in Jerusalem, “How can you go to Egypt in the middle of all these tensions between Israel and the Arab world?”


“Dad, I’ve been to Dahab before.  The people are very friendly to Israelis and Jewish tourists, trust me.”


My next call was to Michael Reiner, an Israeli close friend of Governor Whitman and the director of the New Jersey Trade Office in Ra’anana.  I asked him, “Michael, how safe is it for my son to be travelling to Dahab?”


Michael answered without hesitation, “Your son is safer in Dahab than he would be if he stayed in Jerusalem.”


Michael was right.  Neil went to Dahab for a week, and the Egyptians treated him with the utmost of friendliness and hospitality.




Sadly, the era of good feeling between Israelis and Egyptians, as exemplified by the experiences of former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman and former New Jerseyan (now a New Yorker) Neil Steinberg, is now over, due to the fanaticism of the Islamic fundamentalists who will soon control Egypt.


I hold no brief for Hosni Mubarak.  His failure to democratize his regime and improve living conditions for the Egyptian people created conditions in which the Muslim Brotherhood could seize power.  In the words of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.


That the members of the Muslim Brotherhood are fundamentalist extremist supporters of terrorism, however, is beyond dispute.  Even the late former Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, a dedicated Pan-Arabist who opposed Israel and Zionism vigorously, wanted nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood and banned the movement in 1954.


 It is true that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the only group participating in the current uprisings in Egypt.  There are many good rank and file citizens of Egypt who are participating in these protests due to their disgust with the autocratic Mubarak regime and the miserable living conditions and poverty for most Egyptians.


It is also true that the Muslim Brotherhood has muted its religious message recently in the interest of political pragmatism.  Yet there is no doubt of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goals in the domestic and international sphere: 1) the transformation of Egypt into a nation governed strictly by a fundamentalist implementation of Sharia, the sacred  Islamic law; and 2) the destruction of the State of Israel.


Finally, as I stated above, I have no doubt that due to their organizational and political effectiveness, the Muslim Brotherhood will soon attain control of the Egyptian government, reducing Mohamed ElBaradei to figurehead status.


Shiite Muslim fundamentalists control Iran, and Sunni Muslim fundamentalists will soon control Egypt.  My fear is that the extreme fundamentalist branch of the Sunni Wahhabi movement may soon transform the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into the Islamic Republic of Saudi Arabia.


We are moving into a brave new world in the Middle East – a most frightening one.  I have lived through three wars between Israel and Egypt (1956, 1967, and 1973) and a peace which lasted 34 years.  I am most fearful as to what the future holds between Israelis and Egyptians.



Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.

Posted: January 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Middle East | Tags: , | Comments Off on Egypt and Israel – Two New Jersey Stories