Friday, June 20, 2008

On American Support for Israel

U.S. opinion on the Middle East is not monolithic, nor is it frozen in time. Since 1967, it has undergone significant shifts, with some groups becoming more favorable toward Israel and others less so. Considerably fewer African Americans stand with the Likud Party today than stood with the Jewish army in World War II. More changes may come. A Palestinian and Arab leadership more sensitive to the values and political priorities of the American political culture could develop new and more effective tactics designed to weaken, rather than strengthen, American support for the Jewish state. An end to terrorist attacks, for example, coupled with well-organized and disciplined nonviolent civil resistance, might alter Jacksonian perceptions of the Palestinian struggle.

It is entirely possible that over time, evangelical and fundamentalist Americans will retrace Jimmy Carter's steps from a youthful Zionism to what he would call a more balanced position now. But if Israel should face any serious crisis, it seems more likely that opinion will swing the other way. Many of the Americans who today call for a more evenhanded policy toward the Palestinians do so because they believe that Israel is fundamentally secure. Should that assessment change, public opinion polls might well show even higher levels of U.S. support for Israel.

One thing, at least, seems clear. In the future, as in the past, U.S. policy toward the Middle East will, for better or worse, continue to be shaped primarily by the will of the American majority, not the machinations of any minority, however wealthy or engaged in the political process some of its members may be.

Read this article, "The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State" by Walter Russell Mead, here.

(Kippah tip: AJG)


Peter said...

This article confuses cause and effect. American public supports Israel because (a) American mainstream media is dominated by Jews (pundits, journalists, newspaper owners etc) and (b) because of the tireless efforts of the amorphous Israel Lobby to stifle any serious criticism of Israel to reach mainstream media. However, the situation is changing. First and foremost, because of the Iraq debacle, launched in large part in the framework of " Securing the Realm". Mothers of thousands of dead American soldiers and many more thousands disfigured and permanently traumatized ones are asking themselves why a group of mostly Jewish neocons loyal to a foreign country decide they can fight their wars with blood of other people, while MSM is either actively abetting the war or covering up the dual loyalty issue. This threatens to turn into a grass-roots anti-Semitic campaign that even Israel Lobby will have hard time containing. Additionally, Israel and the same lobby are universally perceived as the power pushing for bombing of Iran - a sure fiasco in the making - and the countless innocent lives lost that this will cause. Lastly, Israel Lobby, feeling threatened, is employing more and more aggressive tactics to shut down any criticism, actively subverting First Amendment which is not popular even with people otherwise friendly to Jews and Israel. In this respect the Lobby in on a self-destruction course. Keep reading Phil Weiss to get updated on this.

YMedad said...

Weiss is but another liberal, progressive, lefty who ultimately provides a vehicle for anti-Zionist and anti-Israel kooks.

Peter said...

Obviously, liberal and progressive are slurs in your book. Weiss is an intellectual - he is a person who believes in the power of arguments. He believes that issues should be debated and that the most sound intellectual argument should win - this is, indeed, very much a Jewish, Talmudic tradition: let's talk and see who has the most convincing argument (I believe that too. What do you think makes a guy like me, who during his formative years was fed your side of the story, was willing to give his life for the State of Israel, suddenly to "switch sides" like that? Only realization that things I believed in before proved wrong, one by one.)
You, unlike Wiess, are not an intellectual, I am sorry to say. Time after time you proved that instead of bringing counter-arguments you prefer non-sequiturs and calling names (like you do right here with Weiss). You have a rebuttal? Let us hear it! But no, it is so much easier just to call a guy a lefty and dismiss him like that. True, among Wiess' commenters there is a couple of anti-Semites, so what? Does it mean his point of view is wrong? If things Israel or Israeli Lobby are doing become a fodder for anti-Semites, well, tough luck. Not exposing these things because of such considerations in still morally wrong and only exacerbates the original offense. If there were more Jews in America like Weiss, the kabbal of Jewish neocons might have not been able to pull of the Iraq war and geopolitical situation in the world might have been incomparably better, it's painful to think how incomparably better. Instead American Jews by and large preferred to cover up for the kabbal, either because they bought the bogus argument that getting rid of Saddam was good for Israel (without thinking for a second that it will be American boys and girls who will go to die for another country - if you ever wondered, Jewish representation in the US armed forces is 25 percent of the expected one, and I doubt most of it in combat positions either) or because they were afraid to expose the dual-loyalty issue lest it gives fodder for anti-Semitism - and guess what, now it is so much worse!

YMedad said...

Peter, Peter, Progaganda eater.

To be an intellectual is to be inquisitive, critical and well-read. That's no big deal. For example, Weiss writes "I think Kristof is at last dusting off the Anthony Lewis chair, so long abandoned, that station on the Times Op-Ed page where the great emeritus Lewis once stood up for Arabs' human rights." Silly. The NYT never left off, in a big way, the Lewis bias against Zionism as a nationalism with legitimacy. And Lewis lied and fudged facts. He and his mother.

He writes: "Israel is a thriving democracy, he seems to say. I don't know Israel, have only spent ten days there two years ago". Ah, the intellectual wisdom of 10 days. It took me more than 10 days to read Das Kapital so I guess I am, what, a super intellectual when it comes to Marxism or does it work the other way?

And look, he even admits to not knowing: "I also received the romantic view of Israel as a young Jew in America, the view Kristof seems to endorse, but I wonder whether the Haaretz's and B'tselem's aren't the noble dissenters in a dark place. Dunno."

You're right, he must be an intellectual - all full of self-doubt.

Come on, this is crap.

Here's more intellectual Weiss crap :" I notice that Hoenlein says that the Iranians are seeking "hegemony" in the region. Is that such a bad thing? Realists say that all states seek hegemony in their region, as a way to protect themselves. It's why the Israelis sought nuclear weapons more than 40 years ago, without the international outcry".

Actually, has Israel done/threatented or whatever what Iran has done over the past 40 years in the space of 10? Did Israel assert hegemony or simply defend itself?

This is not even intellectual dishonesty but lying. No Petter. Weiss is a progressive lefty. That not a nonsequitor but the turth. Someone ideologically unable to see any good in Israel and and unable to see bad in Israel's enemies.

Better luck next time - or not.

Peter said...

Peter, Peter, Progaganda eater.

I hope this is good-natured.

For example, Weiss writes […] Silly. The NYT never left off, in a big way, the Lewis bias against Zionism as a nationalism with legitimacy.

I don’t know who Lewis was, I will try to find out, le-lo neder, but your claim that NYT is biased against Zionism is demonstratively false. NYT editorial board houses 6 (!) Jews that I know of: a rabid neocon Kristol, a moderate-conservative Brooks (who replaced another conservative Safire), a moderate Friedman, who is staunchly pro-Israeli and Zionist (mildly anti-settlements and anti-Wall, pro-Iraq war as a means to change things in the Middle East in Israel’s favor), a liberal Krugman, who mostly deals with economy, but is pro-Israel and pro-Zionism nonetheless, Frank Rich, who is circumspect when he talks about Israel or Israel Lobby and Roger Cohen, who, AFAIK, comes from South Africa and is probably the most vocal of the gang on the Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (at least from a couple of editorials I can think of). Of the remaining gentiles, only Kristof as much as dares to say anything about Israel and always in the most balanced way. Where is the bias here? I’d say, having 6 Jews out of 11 columnists is a bias of some other sort, actually.
Since I’ve been following NYT, I never read a very critical article about Israel, not to mention anything remotely anti-Zionist. For example, NYT was more or less silent during our latest killing spree in Lebanon. If one really wants to read gutsy critical pieces on Israel in a major newspaper, the US media has nothing to offer (unlike Ha’aretz). Go ahead and find one NYT article that is anti-Zionist or critical of Israel without balancing it with criticism of Arabs or Palestinians.

He writes: "Israel is a thriving democracy, he seems to say. I don't know Israel, have only spent ten days there two years ago". Ah, the intellectual wisdom of 10 days.

His blog, if you take time to read it, rarely deals with Israel per se, but rather with Israel Lobby in the US, the Iraq War and the coverage of those in the US MSM. Yes, he visited Hebron and, guess what? he “loved” what he saw there. But because you - and nobody in the world - can really deny that what is going on in Hebron is an abomination, you will probably find a way not to address or treat seriously his experience there either.

And look, he even admits to not knowing […] You're right, he must be an intellectual - all full of self-doubt.

Self-doubt is not a bad thing, as far asI am concerned. I prefer to deal with people who don’t hold too many of their convictions so self-evident as not to doubt them at all. With most things in our lives we are supposed to reach an opinion after getting information from somewhere else and this information may prove wrong or incomplete. So, one should always leave room for doubt in his or her opinions. I don’t think it is fair to demand that people visit and spend a long time in Israel in order to be able to express their opinion about it. We have opinions on historical events even though we never lived trough them. You, for example, seem to have quite an opinion on Iran, though you never visited this country. So, one has to rely on different sources of information and try to be balanced and see through manipulation and propaganda. That’s why I repeat again and again: if you have rebuttals, speak out. Dealing with true intellectuals is so much nicer than with ideologues: you can actually try to convince them in the rightness of your position. If your argument is sound, an intellectual with integrity will concede you have a point and change his opinion; an ideologue – never: he/she will try to find a way around logic and reason, smear your character, bring irrelevant example etc, just not to touch the core of his or her beliefs.

That said, certain things are indeed deeply ingrained in us. For example, some people truly believe that all people are equal, while others see their group as superior to others. If we come to such an argument there is not a lot of chance of finding common ground. That’s all right, as long as the participants of the argument acknowledge what they are arguing about and not try to raise a smoke screen. I say, be a racist, but at least have the honesty to stand up and say so for all to hear, so that all know what they are dealing with.

Here's more intellectual Weiss […] Actually, has Israel done/threatened or whatever what Iran has done over the past 40 years in the space of 10? Did Israel assert hegemony or simply defend itself?

Israel definitely sought hegemony and tried to defend itself. These things sometimes are inseparable. Sometimes more former than the latter, sometimes vice versa. From what I know the Sinai campaign was definitely an attempt to assert hegemony in the service and with the help of the Brits and the French, until the US said to get out. Many today’s historians concede that the Six Day War was an unnecessary war but I am not educated enough on this (Moshe Dayan admitted as much about the war with Syria, for example, and I guess we are still to see all the archives open on the matter.) Yom Kippur War was defensive, while the two Lebanon affairs - no one even pretends about these anymore: plain and simple attempts at expanding the hegemony using minor provocations as pretexts.

This is not even intellectual dishonesty but lying. No Petter. Weiss is a progressive lefty. That not a nonsequitor but the turth. Someone ideologically unable to see any good in Israel and and unable to see bad in Israel's enemies.

Wrong. Weiss says nice things about Israel. In the same column you mention he voices doubts, because he doesn’t know enough. In this post he extols the free speech in Israel in the wake of Walt and Mersheimer visit. I repeat, Weiss is concerned with Israel mostly inasmuch as it affects American politics and the issue of Jews in the US, especially with everything having to do with Iraq War (and this is how I recommended him, go back and check. You want a good lefty blog dealing more with Israel? Try The Magnes Zionist.) He is an American Jew and doesn’t feel any special attachment or loyalty to the State of Israel. Indeed, he is unhappy with the people who do have the dual loyalty issue to the point of subverting American interest to Israel interest. This is what his blog is about most of the time. Another issue he is interested in is the Naqba and he dedicates a number of emotional posts to it: see this and this and this, for example. He is interested in the Naqba as a humanist, not as an ideologue. Same here. If he gets facts wrong, you or anybody can fix him and he will acknowledge, believe me.