SUBJECT: Visit to North Korea
The great threat casting a shadow over Israel is a nuclear attack from a militant regime like Iran or Syria, or a terrorist movement.
In late 2009, I had the opportunity to lead a second delegation from the American Council for World Jewry to visit North Korea, a significant supplier of missiles and advanced technology to Iran and Syria (where in 2007 Israeli warplanes reportedly destroyed a North Korean-supplied nuclear facility). To help us complement and not contradict Washington’s broader policy, we consulted with the State Department before and after our trip.
Beyond any progress that might develop in the short term, establishing some relationship and mutual understanding today can be useful in the event of any future openings. A series of discussions with the North Koreans had led to our first invitation, which we accepted with the intention of establishing direct contact as well as expressing Jewish concerns that go beyond – and are even more important to us than – the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Whatever becomes of the nuclear program inside North Korea, it is critical to stop exports of matériel and technology. We cannot significantly impact North Korea’s strategic choices, but having an open channel of communication allows Jewish and possibly Israeli interests to gain better insight into the regime’s motivations and at least go on record with them about our own priorities.
If anyone doubted it before, recent events have underscored the high stakes in the struggle for the future of Pakistan. Pakistan continues to be both a source of anxiety and a strategic resource in the fight against international terrorism and pursuit of regional stability. As part of the ongoing effort to understand the dynamic politics and promote long-term objectives, Phyllis and I recently had the privilege of hosting former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Mrs. Musharraf at a small dinner in our home, along with leadership from the American Council for World Jewry and the Pakistani-American community. The attached photo shows former Mayor Ed Koch introducing President Musharraf.