Gore fires controversial speechwriter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vice President Al Gore has fired a speechwriter after learning that the Harvard University professor compared the Israeli domestic intelligence agency to the Gestapo in a 1992 book review.

Richard Marius, who heads the expository writing program at Harvard, where he has worked since 1978, was let go only days before he was to begin working at the White House full time.

The 62-year-old professor has written numerous speeches for the vice president, including his recent address commemorating the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

But his work did not dissuade the vice president's office from rescinding its employment offer after learning about a book review in the March-April 1992 issue of Harvard Magazine, a publication for alumni.

In his review of Helen Winternitz's book "A Season of Stones," about the Palestinian intifada, Marius wrote: "Many Israelis, the Holocaust fresh in memory, believe that horror gives them the right to inflict horror on others.

"Winternitz's account of the brutality of the Shin Bet, the Israeli secret police, is eerily similar to the stories of the Gestapo, the Geheimstaatpolitzei in Nazi-occupied territories in World War II."

Marius set up his equation of the Shin Bet to the Gestapo by citing a 1992 article written by New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal calling for a democratic society in the former Soviet Union.

"All dictatorships are contemptuous of their subjects' minds and bodies. To stay in power, rulers think of them as objects to be manipulated and put to their own service," Marius quoted Rosenthal as writing.

Marius called on Rosenthal to apply this philosophy to Israel and in turn to the Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Refusing to enter the flap over the White House position, Rosenthal said of Marius' comparison, "Sure there are things wrong with Israel as there are with any democracy. But to compare it to totalitarianism or fascism is moral equivalency and intellectual perversion."

The book review reportedly was given to Gore by Martin Peretz, the editor of The New Republic magazine, who also writes for the vice president on occasion and is a staunch supporter of Israel.