Lately I’ve been reading a lot about whether certain bloggers associated with the Center for American Progress (CAP) — an organization ‘closely linked to the White House’ — have crossed the line by using the expression “Israel-Firsters” for American supporters of Israel. Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post provides a relatively neutral summary of the controversy here.
I am beginning to think that nothing is less productive than discussing whether a particular expression or person is antisemitic. Certainly saying that “American Jews are disloyal because they choose Israel over the USA” is antisemitic. But the CAP bloggers who used this expression insist that they are only talking about specific individuals, and their being Jewish is irrelevant.
I’ll be generous and give them this. It’s unimportant (although I’ll add that the expression is quite popular in explicitly antisemitic and neo-Nazi circles).
Today the impulse to hate — at least as it affects the more sophisticated Americans and Europeans — is directed at the concrete national expression of the Jewish people, the state of Israel, rather than at ‘the Jews’.
So what? Irrational, obsessive hate is irrational, obsessive hate. Only the object is different. And the bloody results can be the same.
What is a bit ironic today is that the interests of the US and Israel are more closely aligned than ever before. Speaking for myself, I believe that being pro-Israel is part of being pro-American (if this weren’t the case, I would go back to Israel tomorrow).
The Obama Administration doesn’t agree with me. The thrust of its policy, since the 2009 Cairo speech, has been to bring us closer to the Muslim world, which naturally implies drawing away from Israel, and in particular trying to force the creation of a Palestinian state, regardless — despite what Mr. Obama says in public — of the cost to Israel’s security.
An argument was made in the 1970’s that US interests, in the form of low oil prices, implied that the US should adopt a more ‘even-handed’ (read: pro-Arab) approach in the Middle East. I would dispute this, but at least the proposition makes sense.
Today the situation is entirely different. The tide of radical Islamism that is sweeping over the region is ideologically hostile to the West and particularly to the US. Appeasement of these forces — which is the appropriate way to describe a great deal of Administration policy — weakens our strategic position towards them.
The present goals of the regime in Iran include the elimination of US influence in the region, the control of its oil resources, the establishment of a regional Shiite hegemony under Iranian control, and oh yes, the elimination of the “Little Satan,” Israel. Ultimately the regime’s admittedly grandiose aim is to replace the “Great Satan” (that’s us) as the world’s superpower and spread Islam throughout the world.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has similar goals. The Turkish AKP envisages a new Ottoman Empire. Whether any of these regimes or groups stand a chance of realizing them is another question, but their ideological enmity to the US is unquestionable. Appeasement of any of these will not bring lower oil prices.
In every case, the Jewish state is the active front in their diplomatic, informational and sometimes military war to achieve their goals. Israel has the ability and desire to defend itself, and therefore to help protect US interests as well.
Despite the recent campaign to portray Israel as undemocratic, it is the state that most closely embodies our values of freedom, justice, democracy, free enterprise, etc. in the Middle East. We should do our best to support it, and not work against its self defense as the Obama Administration has done.
Are those the only reasons that I support Israel? Of course not. But they are good reasons for all Americans to do so.