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NYC Mayor Returns $10 Million Check From Saudi Arabia For Anti-Israel Position
October 11, 2001 4:18 PM   Subscribe

NYC Mayor Returns $10 Million Check From Saudi Arabia For Anti-Israel Position Mayor Giuliani is magnificent. What else is there to say (I'm sure something...)
posted by ParisParamus (47 comments total)

 
Isn't this a bit complicated? The US have bases in Saudi Arabia (knowing they are anti-Israel) but can't accept their money for the victims of WTC?
posted by Zootoon at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2001


Hmm, I don't know, $10mil could've bought an awful lot of bombs to drop on the Taliban.
posted by daragh at 4:25 PM on October 11, 2001


The question is this: Was the Saudi Prince offering his money in honest aid for the victims of the WTC or were there other subversive intentions? In either case, a fool and his money soon part. We appreciate his condolences, his financial support, but we sure as hell won't allow his influence in our foreign policy. Take the money and put it to good use; there's truth in what Daragh just said.
posted by bloggboy at 4:31 PM on October 11, 2001


10 million bucks! You might not like what the guy has to say, but it's 10 million bucks! I wouldn't be giving it back.
posted by Foaf at 4:32 PM on October 11, 2001


The offending statement - "I believe the government of the United States of America should [...] adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause."

Giuliani - "I entirely reject that statement,"

Great, nothing like rubbing salt in the wounds. That will sure help the situation. What the hell does Giuliani want?
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:32 PM on October 11, 2001


It was a magnificent statement. Two quantums better than kicking Yasser out of Lincoln Center. BRAVO. Neither he, nor I want tainted charity.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:37 PM on October 11, 2001


We appreciate his condolences, his financial support, but we sure as hell won't allow his influence in our foreign policy.

But allowing AIPAC money to influence our foreign policy is OK?
posted by laz-e-boy at 4:39 PM on October 11, 2001


Stupid posturing. He should have taken it.
posted by rushmc at 4:40 PM on October 11, 2001


i don't think Giuliani had a problem with the statement as much as he did the insinuation that the terrorist attacks were directly related to the Israel/Palestine conflict, and that this somehow provides justification for the acts.
posted by lizs at 4:40 PM on October 11, 2001


The donation was loaded, for sure. But I'd hope that Giuliani would take the same attitude to any cheque with a press release attached. (Including the Israeli government, although they're better at cashing cheques than writing them.)

Frankly, the Saudi royal family would do better investing its fortunes in bringing one or two basic human rights to its own country. The country would be a pariah nation were it not swimming in crude and happy to pander to Big Oil.

PP: still spinning that "only good Arab a dead Arab" line?
posted by holgate at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2001


I think this Saudi guy was paying $10mil (which probably doesn't mean that much to him) to make a statement (which probably DOES mean something to him).

If that assertion is correct then he just got the deal of the century...his statement is receiving 1,000 times more press than had Rudi just said "Thanks" and banked it for the relatives of victims (or spent it on bombs, per my earlier post).
posted by daragh at 4:48 PM on October 11, 2001


For me the point here is that he didn't say "I'll give you the money if you do something about your Middle East policy", he gave the money despite his disagreement with it, no strings attached. Nobody really thinks this guy is trying to buy American foreign policy with just $10m, do they?
The attacks probably had something to do with Israel / Palestine, that doesn't mean this was a justification.
An extreme example which I know isn't strictly correlative: imagine there's an Iraki government charity which I know for sure is genuine and is one which gets aid directly to orphans, without any doubt, nothing skimmed off the top. I would give, with a comment to go along that this doesn't mean...
Not a great example but nothing these days is.
posted by Zootoon at 4:50 PM on October 11, 2001


. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause."

Those are suddenly fighting words. Go figure. It just cost victims $10 million dollars.
posted by skallas at 4:51 PM on October 11, 2001


"and that this somehow provides justification for the acts."

Well I'm sort of tripping over that part. How does. "We need to do something to lessen the hatred" equal, "Hatred justifies violence"? I don't see anything indicating anyone was trying to justify the attack. Where do you read that?

The president has already stated we support the idea of a Palestinian homeland. We condemned Israeli violence (some of it at least - it's a start). It seems like Giuliani doesn't even want to go that far.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:54 PM on October 11, 2001


i don't think Giuliani had a problem with the statement as much as he did the insinuation that the terrorist attacks were directly related to the Israel/Palestine conflict, and that this somehow provides justification for the acts.

That does sound like what Rudy is saying, but I don't see anywhere in that article where the Saudi prince linked the two.

We SHOULD reexamine our foreign policy in the middle east but not just on the issue of Palestinians. It sounds like Rudy is exhibiting the same refusal to admit that our policies in the Middle East have created an environment where hatred of the U.S. flourishes. (To stave off the knee jerk replies, we are not responsible for the attacks. We are responsible to creating a situation where they could be possible and desireable for some)

"I would also like to condemn all forms of terrorism and in doing so I am reiterating Saudi Arabia's strong stance against these tragic and horrendous acts."

How much clearer can that be. The Saudi prince didn't say that the terrorists actions were our fault. No one is justifying the deaths of 1000s. But he's right that reexamining our policies can only help us and the world in the long run.

It's ultimate hubris to refuse any opportunity for introspection.
posted by fooljay at 4:56 PM on October 11, 2001


What else is there to say? This isn't going to be popular, but how about "2 terms means 2 terms, no matter how good a job you do."
posted by holycola at 4:58 PM on October 11, 2001


A much bigger statement could have been made if the mayor had accepted the check despite their political differences -- just as the check was given despite political differences. Charity can transcend politics when you let it and it's a shame Giuliani didn't let that happen.

Still - no doubt the man is very frazzled - I can see why those words could be fightin' words for him.
posted by josh at 4:58 PM on October 11, 2001


We SHOULD reexamine our foreign policy in the middle east but not just on the issue of Palestinians.

Yes, we should tell the PA that unless they get Hamas and Hezbolah and the suicide bombings in Israel, they can go f* themselves. I bet if that was our policy, it would all stop. Or, the PA would be revealed to be a fraud/terrorist org. it is. For the moment, we give the PA way, WAY to much credit/help patience already.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:03 PM on October 11, 2001


It was my understanding that the saudi prince was not giving ten million in cash but in ten million bucks worth of oil and Rudy said he would have stored in in the Gracey Manor but he no longer lived there and was short on garage space.
posted by Postroad at 5:05 PM on October 11, 2001


Skallas & y6 -- did you read the article?

The article gives these quotations from the Saudi prince's statement:

"However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause." The press release attributed the statement to the prince.

"Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek,' Prince Alwaleed stressed," the release read.

(Italics mine)

The "linkage" in the statement is pretty clear. It is obviously that part of the message that is political kryptonite right now in NYC. The call for a a more "balanced stance" is not really the problem. It's the idea that US policy -- rather than a bunch of godless murderers -- "led to" 6000 deaths.
posted by Mid at 5:06 PM on October 11, 2001


PP
Getting back to the point, could you please justify your defence of Giuliani's rejection of the money and not take the thread off into another tiring mud-slinging match over the whole Middle East thing. You posted it.
posted by Zootoon at 5:09 PM on October 11, 2001


I am pretty much Giuliani's political opposite, but I think he's done a fantastic job managing the aftermath of this crisis. However, the money came no strings attached, and I don't really see where it's his place to refuse a donation that might help thousands of people.

I wasn't aware that there was a political litmus test that you have to pass before you are allowed to become a donor to the Twin Towers fund.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:15 PM on October 11, 2001


MegoSteve:

It did come with strings attached. The Saudi prince's press release was handed to reporters at the same press conference where he handed the $10 million check to Giuliani.

He bought the opportunity to make his statement, and keeping the money could have appeared to be a tacit endorsement. Let the prince make whatever statements he wishes, but this was a setup - arrange a public press conference where you will hand over $10 million while issuing a statement that is wrongheaded and in bad taste.
posted by syzygy at 5:26 PM on October 11, 2001


It's ultimate hubris to refuse any opportunity for introspection.

Well said, and worth repeating.
posted by rushmc at 5:40 PM on October 11, 2001


Mid - Are you actually saying that Arab hatred of the US didn't lead to the attacks? Or are you saying that Arab hatred of the US has nothing to do with US policy?

And so we can get back on the same page here, the "linkage" we're talking about is between a call for balance and some sort of justification. Where is the Prince saying hatred justifies terrorism?
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:47 PM on October 11, 2001


From BBC:
On a visit to the city, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz - a nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and one of the world's richest men - called the destruction of the World Trade Center a tremendous crime.

But in a separate statement, he said that the US Government should reconsider its polices in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinians.
I guess the Old Rudy is back. A major power struggle is brewing between Rudy and state attorney general Eliot Spitzer about the control of the 850+ million (and counting) relief fund. I hate to think that someone might make out like a bandit from this tragedy, now that everyone is raising money without any clear goals or processes for dispersing it to the needy. But stories like Howard Lutnick, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, being MIA from dispensing aid to the families of his employees doesn't give much hope.
posted by tamim at 5:56 PM on October 11, 2001


y6 -- the "linkage" I was talking about is a causal linkage between US policy and all the dead New Yorkers.

I agree that reasonable people can argue about US policy, Arab hatred, and linkage with the attacks. But the mayor of the city that suffered one of the bloodiest days in American history does not have that luxury. His citizens were slaughtered -- it should not surprise anyone that he cannot accept some prince's ideas as to what they did to bring this on themselves.
posted by Mid at 6:00 PM on October 11, 2001


Or appear to accept the prince's ideas by accepting his $$$.
posted by Mid at 6:02 PM on October 11, 2001


I agree that reasonable people can argue about US policy, Arab hatred, and linkage with the attacks. But the mayor of the city that suffered one of the bloodiest days in American history does not have that luxury.

So, you admit that he's not reasonable?
posted by rushmc at 6:40 PM on October 11, 2001


Guiliani is an idiot. sorry, i'm not flaming. this article just certifies it. We are inextricably pro-israel though. and that does need to be re-examined when policies of the people's government puts its people at risk. (please don't read this the wrong way.) i'm not supporting anything; just questioning everything.
posted by wantwit at 6:40 PM on October 11, 2001


The prince is not saying that the U.S's support of Israel is the sole reason for this, but he's saying it's one of them, and I tend to agree with him. Our position is too biased torwards Israel, and not supportive enough of Palestine. Indeed, Osama Bin Laden said that one of the main reasons he is so angry is that the U.S so vehemently supports Israel. I think Giuliani jumped to conclusions, and should have kept the money. Dumb move.
posted by sean17 at 7:39 PM on October 11, 2001


I also wonder if Guiliani was spoiling for a reason to bounce the check. What if the Saudi Prince had said, "sorry about the great tragedy, this is inexcusable, and by the way, we all need to think seriously about protecting the Earth from greenhouse gases."

Would this equally have been treated as an affront to humanity?

I just love how this series of events has given rise to a parade of pet projects and assertions of cause.

Kind of like pressing your nose to a 52" tv screen and declaring you're seeing the big picture.
posted by ethmar at 7:53 PM on October 11, 2001


There's an economic discussion and a moral discussion ongoing above... Rudy took the moral line, avoided a Saudi payoff for a leveraged media spot, and made it crystal clear what happened at the WTC and also why it happened. Good man.

By the way, nobody that rich or well-connected would make a stupid move like the Prince did w/o knowing how it would be received... so, was the check some sort of gift, or was it a sick and stingy gesture (knowing it would be returned posthaste)?

You don't hang qualifications on the deaths of 6000 people.
posted by Kami at 8:04 PM on October 11, 2001


He bought the opportunity to make his statement, and keeping the money could have appeared to be a tacit endorsement.

Exactly.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:03 PM on October 11, 2001


By the way, nobody that rich or well-connected would make a stupid move like the Prince did w/o knowing how it would be received...

It's conceivable that politically, the Prince could only give money with the message attached to it. But politically, and I suspect due to his personal moral beliefs, the Mayor could not accept it.

No one is stopping the Prince from giving the money to some other foundation. Or giving it anonymously (the highest form of charity).
posted by ParisParamus at 9:06 PM on October 11, 2001


He bought the opportunity to make his statement, and keeping the money could have appeared to be a tacit endorsement.

Exactly.


Exactly wrong. The press would be more than happy at this point to convey any statement from a Saudi figure like this--perhaps not to quite the same level of visibility, but to put it out there--for free. He didn't need to spend $10 million for the platform, and he hardly turned it into a soapbox, in any case.
posted by rushmc at 9:12 PM on October 11, 2001


rush. Actions always speak louder than words. To take the money and refute the attached message would be laughable--the proverbial wink.

Frankly, the Saudi's refusal to give FULL access to its airbases to our military should be enough to give the check back. The chutzpah of those people!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:26 PM on October 11, 2001


Imagine the US government had given a $10 million check to an Afghani charity, attaching to the donation a press release offering condolences for the plight of the citizens of Afghanistan while also suggesting that the country reexamine policies that the United States disagrees with. If the charity we offered the money to refused to take it on the grounds of that simple suggestion for reform, wouldn't most of us feel it was immoral of them to refuse the donation (that could help those who need it) and close-minded to refuse it just because we don't express support for everything they do?

I think giving despite having reservations about our country was an acceptable thing for the Saudi Prince to do. As rushmc said, he could've gotten press in some other way. And, yes, an anonymous donation would be noble...but I believe the donation was also symbolic, a monetary manifestation of his country's sympathy.

sorry this was worded badly.
posted by girlscantell at 9:32 PM on October 11, 2001


questioning if we "deserved" it in any way threatens to legitimize mass-murder, which is indefensible, and it also increases the chance of it happening again, if it's not condemned outright and acted upon from the very start.

now the prince can say whatever he wants seperate from this donation, but killing 6000 multinational civilians, no matter what the message, is unacceptable, and in supporting the loss of those 6000 souls there should be no messages attached. now that's charity.

there are better times and better ways to make these sorts of foreign policy statements that would not appear to be direct reactions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. i would suspect however that parisparamus is right about the political pressures...
posted by teradome at 11:29 PM on October 11, 2001


Frankly, the Saudi's refusal to give FULL access to its airbases to our military should be enough to give the check back. The chutzpah of those people

Now that is insulting! They don't gotta chutzpah, PP. They gotta, at the most, hubris. Or just oil is more likely.

(riveting thread, all you guys)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:52 PM on October 11, 2001


The press would be more than happy at this point to convey any statement from a Saudi figure like this--perhaps not to quite the same level of visibility, but to put it out there--for free.

Not to mention that Guiliani could have taken the money and simply said he doesn't agree with the man's views but respects free speech and cashes the check for the victims. I said it before, the victims are out of $10 million. That's an incredible sum and sadly this has been turned into some mega-ego battle.

Politics as usual. The old Guiliani is back. Long live the king, etc.
posted by skallas at 11:57 PM on October 11, 2001


questioning if we "deserved" it in any way threatens to legitimize mass-murder, which is indefensible, and it also increases the chance of it happening again, if it's not condemned outright and acted upon from the very start.

Refusing to accept that there was a wider context of questionable foreign policy choices, usually kept out of the eye of the general public, certainly increases the risk of it happening again. Unless the "acting upon" entails genocide. Assuming otherwise simply perpetuates the cycle of media insulation that allowed past administrations to run its foreign ventures with impunity.

Having the moral high-ground doesn't allow you to erect a pedestal and place yourself upon it.
posted by holgate at 1:38 AM on October 12, 2001


Guiliani is indeed correct, as is the poster who echoed Guiliani's sentiment: "And to suggest that there's a justification for it only invites this happening in the future." To suggest that it is justified, even by implication in accepting the money, would invite future events of a similar nature IF THE POLICY IN QUESTION DOES NOT CHANGE. (sorry for the yelling.) If you truly believe that our foreign policy in regards to the Middle East is the best it could possibly be then suggesting justification would be both foolish and dangerous because no change in out policy to alleviate the pressure would be morally possible. However, if there are indeed policy matters that need attention, to continue to ignore them and act as we would if there were no problems would be just as foolish and dangerous, because in admitting a mistake and changing it we would disarm the situation. Which is the right position, I don’t know.

Guiliani is acting from the premise that our policy is sound, or so I hope (otherwise I'd have to question his motives), and his response was correct based on that premise. I don’t see why accepting the money and publicly refuting the Prince's statements would not have worked equally as well though, and that is what trips my reasoning up.

What are the possible political repercussions of his rejection? If nothing else it will certainly confirm one of the popular Middle Eastern beliefs about America, its arrogance.
posted by Nothing at 1:58 AM on October 12, 2001


The donation was loaded, for sure.

holgate, loaded with what? Giuliani doesn't dictate foreign policy and the Saudi guy was refering to the administration's stand on Palestine... whatever that is.

He should have taken the money and immediately announced that it would go to making bombs with names of everyone who died scribbled on them and send them to the Taleban.
posted by timyang at 3:33 AM on October 12, 2001


What are the possible political repercussions of his rejection?

That we are serious, and that disgusting undemocratic people better realize that we are not the econowhores you are, and you think we are?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:36 AM on October 12, 2001


Having the moral high-ground doesn't allow you to erect a pedestal and place yourself upon it.

Quote-of-the-Month!
posted by rushmc at 6:04 AM on October 12, 2001


Giuliani should be impeached for rejecting the cheque. NYC just got punished for Ariel Sharon's crimes against humanity. Giuliani is asking for more.
posted by Loudmax at 8:31 AM on October 12, 2001


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