Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Only Place He is Loved

Following upon the allegations that an American Jewish entrepreneur bribed Israel PM Ehud Olmert when Olmert was Minister of Commerce and Industry, Israel journalist gadfly Gideon Levy wrote a column asking American Jews to stop intervening in Israel politics. While Levy acknowledged the present case was somewhat different, it was pointed to the perversion and corruption of Israel politics and policies by American Jewish money. In particular, Levy took issue with American funding of the numerous settlements in the territories and the various settlers' movements. Without the more than $100 million which American Jews have contributed, these efforts would have failed. And the settlements and settlers, Levy argues, are the major obstacle and opponents to finding peace with the Palestinians.

Levy, I believe, is right. Over Israel's 60 years, especially since 1967, the money and political support raised by American Jews has relieved Israel of the need to seek seriously accommodation and peace with the Palestinians. The settlement policies and activities, in particular, have further Israel's relations with them, pushing farther off a peaceful two-state solution. Moreover, this support, like that given by most Christian evangelicals, was given to fulfill the donors' fantasies, such as revenge on the goyim, rather than out of consideration for Israel's best interests.

However, I would Levy to ask that Israeli Jews return the favor. He should tell them to stop intervening in American politics and, in particular, to stop their ridiculous support of George W. Bush. One might argue whether the U.S.'s invasion of Iraq, its threats to Iran and its acceptance of Israel settlements were in Israel's best interests. According to the prevalent short-sighted Israel analysis, they were. But clearly the Israelis who cheer Bush for these steps have no concern for what they have cost the American people. They express no concern for the American lives and money wasted in Iraq, the U.S.'s moral stature shrunk by the administration's torture policies nor the administration's violations of its own citizens' civil liberties. Perhaps they are use to similar conduct by their own governments, army, security agencies and police similarly rationalized in name of security.

Even many of the best are filled with such dispassionate intensity. The supposedly liberal newspaper Haaretz in an editorial urges the United States to attack Iran. The editors know the American army is stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it kindly advises the use of planes, missiles and naval ships. Its Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner, who apparently has not heard of Katarina or seen the last five years of incompetence in Iraq, extols Bush as hard at work every day for the good of the world. Supposedly wise Israel president Shimon Peres, interviewed in the Washington Post, praises Bush for having toppled Saddam Hussein, for otherwise Israel would have to contend with both Iraq and Iran. He ignores that the revulsion through the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, to the occupation of Iraq has strengthen Iranian influence throughout the region. And it has strengthened the grip and audacity of the hardliners in Iran.

If Israelis lack the curiosity to ask why 72% of the American public disappove of Bush, if they are indifferent to costs other bear for their free ride, they might at least spare us the fawning over Bush.

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