I find myself agreeing with about half of Phil Giraldi’s most recent diatribe against Israel, while shrugging my shoulders at the rest. I’d be the last to deny that the Israeli government has taken gross advantage of their “special relations” with the US or that GOP media drool on cue over “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Despite my advanced age, I learned the story about the Israeli military’s sinking the USS Liberty off the coast of Egypt only very recently. This is not the kind of news that our media, and least of all such staunch AIPAC-allies as the Wall StreetJournal, has cared to push to the front. Further, what I did know about this deliberate sinking back in the late 1960s was carefully doctored by all the usual journalistic suspects. Finally I would have to agree with Phil that the antics of AIPAC and their neocon cheering gallery are utterly indecent. These campaigns of distortion and vilification are enough to turn the strongest stomach. AIPAC propaganda does not lag far behind the worst forms of totalitarian disinformation for its mendacity and hysteria. Having seen my own career derailed because of my supposed softness toward the PLO, after a neocon hit squad went after me at a university that will remain nameless, I can assure Phil that I loathe the same people he does, perhaps even more intensely.
Less to my liking is the political yardstick he would apply to both the US and Israel. Phil condemns the Israelis for being what at least one of his bloggers found to be admirable, an ethnically based nation state. I fully share this reader’s position that there is nothing aberrant about such an arrangement. Most Western governments in the nineteenth century, before their turn toward global democracy under American tutelage, were exactly what Phil finds obnoxious about Israel.
Such states sometimes acted on the basis of their belief in the durability of ethnic ties. Although the countries whither their co-ethnics moved might have been justified in trying to alter this relation, the states these emigrants left understandably tried to hold on to their loyalties. In the late nineteenth century Scandinavian and other European states viewed their emigrants who departed for the US as citizens or subjects of the home country.
The other side of this story is better known. Hyphenated Americans, including many Northern European Protestants, showed an attachment to the “old country” for generations after they arrived on these shores. Moreover, in the first post-Communist presidential election in Poland in 1990, adults of Polish extraction residing outside Poland were allowed to cast ballots. A businessman who had immigrated to Canada, Stanislaw Tyminski, finished second in the general race, garnering the votes of ethnic Poles who were then living outside their ancestral country.
The Israeli situation is admittedly a bit different from what has just been described. Jews who reside outside Israel mostly never lived in the “Jewish homeland,” one that was created after the ancestors of most American and Canadian Jews moved (predominantly from the Russian Pale of settlement) to the US and other Western countries. Most Jewish supporters of Israel cheer on and subsidize what is an ancestral country only in a remote and partly literary sense. Still and all, the fact that Israel was founded on ethnic solidarity would not make it different from a multitude of other political entities that reveal the same trait. Phil’s attempt to treat post-ethnic states as the norm flies in the face of most of the human experience and is contradicted even by a great deal of modern Western history.
The advocates of Israel who belabor us with special pleading typically misrepresent the object of their passionate affection. They do so for two reasons. One, as members of a minority group, Jewish supporters of Israel ‘living in exile” (yehudim bagaluth) do not want Christian countries to be ethnically exclusive, a right they reserve for Jews, and therefore work to depict Israel as a Near Eastern version of New York City or LA, plus interesting biblical sites. That way one can have one’s cake and eat it at the same time. That is, one can gush over Israel as a model pluralistic democracy while calling for open borders and multicultural initiatives for the goyim.
Two, the Christian Zionists who serve the GOP and whose fantasies are nurtured by the Murdoch media, want to view Israel as being “like us.” Therefore it should not surprise us that such paradigmatic Zionist spokesmen as Cal Thomas and Mike Huckabee alternate their hymns to Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan with praise for Israeli democracy. It may not be incidental to this practice that the advocates in question depend for their livelihoods on the neocon-Murdoch media. What they tell us has far less to do with esoteric interpretations of the Book of Revelations than with who is buttering whose bread. And let’s forget about the war on terror as a necessary reason for the Zionist enthusiasm exhibited by GOP leadership. Here the “Israeli asset” is brought up to justify an established position, which would continue to be proclaimed even if no Muslim terrorist had appeared on the scene. No matter how the world situation may change from day to day, the Jerusalem Post, WSJ, and Weekly Standard always finds reasons for greater American assistance to Israel and more determined American opposition to Israel’s enemies. Needless to say, Zionist philanthropy and Murdoch billions should not be discounted when we talk about this subject.
Although I agree with Phil that the US should not be doing Israel’s bidding or burning incense at the altar of the Israeli premier, it seems that he and I have very different views about what is a proper American foreign policy. Unlike him, I do not view with pride what the US did to bring down the white majority government in South Africa. That government, which ran afoul of an artificially manufactured “world opinion,” did a much better job at maintaining a rape-free, economically productive country than the African National Congress that the US helped bring to power.
I also don’t think we should be toppling Western governments that do not follow our lead into becoming whatever American elites decide we should be at a given point in time. Phil appears to be not so much angry at the way neocons, AIPAC or the Likud government defines “our special relation” to Israel as he is at our failure to play kingmakers for the Israelis. Unless I’m mistaken, he and the Jewish leftist critics of Israel favored by him would like to turn Israel into something that represents the current American model for export. My own position is quite different from this one and is based on the biblical exhortation “Physician, heal thyself!” In my view it is not so much the Israeli nation as the global missionaries in the US that needs to be healed, from insufferable arrogance.