The former C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame Wilson made news with her Twitter account last week when, on the first day of Rosh Hashana, she shared an article that said, “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars: Shouldn’t they recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East?”
The article, which appeared on a fringe website, said that Jewish neoconservatives were pushing for a war with Iran. Ms. Wilson, whose identity as a covert operative was leaked in 2003 by members of the George W. Bush administration nettled by the opposition of her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to the Iraq war, repeated the well-worn narrative that Jewish neoconservatives promoted the invasion of Iraq — and are beating the drum for a conflict with Iran.
Of course, most Jews are not neoconservatives, and most neoconservatives are not Jewish. In any case, it was two influential non-Jews, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who played the central role with President Bush in deciding to invade Iraq in 2003. Ignoring the old saying about when you are in a hole you should stop digging, Ms. Wilson made some excuses and then mentioned that she is of Jewish descent. Finally, she apologized.
I have little interest in piling on Ms. Wilson. But the whole affair brought back some memories about how Jews were perceived within the national security apparatus for a long time. When I began working in the Pentagon during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, there was an unspoken but unmistakable assumption: If you were Jewish, you could not work on the Middle East because you would be biased.