Tuesday, July 18, 2006


American/Israeli Relations

An excellent article on the Israel lobby, etc.

Two points I'd like to add:

(1) About the paranoid and right wing (both in terms of Israeli and even American politics) turn of certain American Jews -- just as anti-Semitism supposedly thrives in the absence of Jews, anti-anti-Semitism thrives in the absence of real anti-Semites. A large part of the right-ward turn amongst American Jewry is among Northeastern Jews who've never actually experience anti-Semitism personally and are rather oblivious to, e.g., the anti-Semitic code in which the religious right in this country speaks. OTOH, they are most paranoid about anti-Semitism, so they look for it wherever they see, e.g., strident criticism of Israel. Which leads them to see the left as anti-Semitic and not the political right.

(2) It actually may be beneficial for the US and Israel to distance themselves from each other. Not only should any Zionist support a decrease in the dependence of Israel on US largesse or even moral support (I thought Zionism was about us Jews having an independent state of our own), but it may be good for both sides if we are seen as more independent of each other. A lot of anti-Israeli sentement in the ME is actually anti-Americanism directed at a less powerful and more locally convenient whipping boy, Israel, viewed as America's proxy in the region. Conversely, a lot of anti-Americanism relates to negative views toward Israel, some of which are based on Israel's actions (e.g., using American provided firepower) but some are based on anti-Semitism. It would help Israel if it were not seen as America's proxy (and it would help Israel if it were not constrained to do America's dirty work or, OTOH, refrain from defending itself out of deference to American interests). And it would help the US if we were not seen as Israel's pet hyperpower. The U.S. shouldn't abandon it's pro-Israeli tilt entirely, but it might not only be good for the U.S. but also might be better for Israel if both sides would be more open about having divergent interests and not be (seen as) so dependent on each other. At the very least, it should be recognized (pace AIPAC) that not all people arguing for a reduction of ties between the US and Israel are even anti-Israeli and certainly not all are anti-Semitic.

It cannot be repeated often enough: disagreeing with the actions of the Israeli government does not make one an anti-Semite. The Right continually uses that little ploy to end debate about Israel's actions.

I also agree that both nations would benefit from some distance. I also think both could seriously do with some less hawkish voices in the government. The U.S. is sick with a near-terminal case of neo-conservatism and it seems to be spreading to Israel. Both nations need to learn a fundamental truth about terrorism: you don't stop it by stooping to its level. We need some new voices in both government that can develop a better foreign policy for dealing with non-state actors. Hezbollah is large, well-armed and well-financed, and Israel cannot stop them by blowing up parts of Lebanon. The same with the U.S. and Al-Qaida (which is arguably not as influential as Hezbollah).

Didn't the Republicans tell us the adults were in charge now?
I think Israel would benefit by getting those three soldiers back home as swiftly as possible before we waste too much time and they are stuck somewhere in Iran like the hostages who spent 444 days there when they were abducted by the current Iranian president!

DAS - great blog as always!
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