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founder and apparel mag-
nate Leslie Wexner’s consternation over the leaking of a document entitled, Wexner Analysis: Israeli Communication Priorities 2003. The report was prepared for the Wexner Foundation and provides insight into Wexner’s relationship with the state of Israel.
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted, Wexner keeps his personal life “under padlock.” But what has surfaced over the years simply adds to his mystery. In the Shapiro murder file, personally ordered destroyed by Columbus Chief of Police James Jackson, Wexner is listed as an alleged organized crime associate. A December 1995 Architectural Digest article and a follow-up 1996 New York Times report detailed the inner sanctum of Wexner’s former Manhattan townhouse, one of the largest in the city.
“Visitors described a bathroom reminiscent of James Bond movies: hidden beneath a stairway, lined with lead to provide shelter from attack and supplied with closed-circuit television screens and a telephone, both concealed in a cabinet beneath the sink,” wrote the Times. The townhouse is now reportedly owned by Wexner’s even more mysterious protégé, Jeffrey E. Epstein.
Epstein, who recently loaned his jet to President Clinton, is usually seen in the company of Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of deceased publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell. After Maxwell fell or was pushed off his yacht in 1991, it was revealed that he was working for the Israeli government and the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence service. While Maxwell’s ties to the Mossad are well-documented, Epstein’s connections are less well known. The London Sunday Times quoted a New York social observer describing Epstein as follows: “He’s Mr. Enigmatic. Nobody knows whether he’s a concert pianist, property developer, a CIA agent, a math teacher or a member of Mossad.” New York Magazine claims Epstein is the man who moves Wexner’s billions around the globe.
Wexner’s philanthropic side is more public. In 1998, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wexner was part of the “‘Mega Group,’ a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation’s wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen.” The Mega Group meets purportedly to discuss “philanthropy,” but others have speculated that their charitable interests are often a cover for lobbying activities on behalf of Israel. The Wall Street Journal identified Max Fisher, a Detroit financier and billionaire, as a member of the Mega Group. Fisher was used as a private Middle East diplomat by President Gerald Ford during the 1970s and is considered Wexner’s mentor.
So, when the Wexner Analysis report was leaked, it caused a stir but no questioning of Wexner’s little-explored relationships with Epstein and Fisher. Frank Lutz, the Republican Party pollster and spin doctor, prepared the Wexner Analysis. Lutz’s report essentially outlines a political PR campaign “as the post-war dust settles over the Iraqi desert.”
The Wexner Analysis points out that “. . . many sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people, [but] there is no love lost for Yassir Arafat.” The report complains that, “the emergence of Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinian Prime Minister comes exactly at the wrong time.”
Why? “His ascent to power seems legitimate. He is a fresh face, and a clean-shaven one at that. He speaks well and dresses in Western garb,” the report states. Lutz’s assessment is that “the Palestinians throw us this curve ball.”
Still, the Wexner Analysis emphasizes that “now is the time to link American success in dealing with terrorism and dictators from a position of strength to Israel’s ongoing efforts to eradicate terrorism on and within its borders.”
Lutz, realizing the value of an Arab bogeymen, stresses that “‘Saddam Hussein’ are the two words that tie Israel to America and are most likely to deliver support in Congress. The day we allow Saddam to take his eventual place in the trash heap of history is the day we lose our strongest weapon in the linguistic defense of Israel.
In the “Essential Conclusion” section of the report, Lutz offers 10 recommendations. The first is: “Iraq colors all. Saddam is your best defense, even if he is dead. For a year – a SOLID YEAR – you should be invoking the name of Saddam Hussein and how Israel was always behind American efforts to rid the world of this ruthless dictator and liberate their people.”
Now, as the occupation of Iraq begins to look like the dreaded quagmire, and American troops are dying at the rate of almost one a day, more scrutiny should come to the role of those who pushed for the attack on Iraq, since Saddam Hussein neither had links to Al Qaeda nor posed a threat to the United States.
The Project for the New American Century, the major ideological force behind the illegal attack on Iraq, are generally more concerned with Hussein’s threat to Israel than to the United States. Recent reports that Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, advised President Bush to include the bogus reference to uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address demonstrates a much bigger problem.
Lobbying groups like the Mega Group and government insiders like Wolfowitz and Richard Pearle are engaged in a systematic campaign to identify Israeli national security interests with U.S. military and security interests. The Wexner Analysis merely documents this extensive, often covert campaign, that deserves public debate and democratic discourse, not secret PR campaigns.
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