Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Zionism's Greatest Achievement
Zionism's Greatest Achievement
In some ways it is a depressing period in Jewish history. The American
Jewish Diaspora community, or at least the non-Orthodox bulk therein, is
in the process of committing cultural/national/religious suicide. Most
American Jews are indifferent to their Jewishness; intermarriage is close
to and may be above 50 percent; and the dominant "religion" of the
American non-Orthodox Jews is the pseudo-religion of
Liberalism-as-Judaism, its chief tenet being that Judaism is nothing more
nor less than the political agenda of the American Left, never mind that
this agenda is totally bankrupt intellectually on its own demerits.
The Reform movement, the Deconstructionist Reconstructionists and many
Conservatives (as in Conservative synagogues) are simply religious
liberals, with political liberalism as their dogma.
The "defense" organizations, American Jewish Congress, Bnai Brith, et al,
are also largely devoted to the practice of political liberalism as
And then we have the chattering classes in Israel - the media and
intelligentsia and literati - devoted to seeing Israel weakened and
dismembered through the Oslo process of national suicide.
In these days of frustration, I think there is one idea that we should
bear in mind. And that is that the Zionist movement has many fantastic
accomplishments under its belt, one of the most important of which is that
Zionism forced a major change in the nature and expression of
Not that anti-Semites are really any different when they hide behind the
mask of anti-Zionism. These are the same gutter bigots, the same people
who refuse to acknowledge that Jews are humans, that Jews are entitled to
rights and equality. But they have been forced to express their bigotry
This should be obvious any time you observe the campus anti-Semites of the
Left, the Arab fascists and the self-hating leftist Jewish Uncle Toms
demonstrating against Israel.
For centuries, the slogans of the anti-Semites were that Jews were
racially inferior, intellectually inferior, cowards, money-grubbers,
killers of God, sub-humans.
But observe the main slogan of anti-Semites today: The Jews are mean. They
are mean to the poor Palestinians.
Ooooh, soooo mean.
What a marvelous transformation! The main calumny thrown at the Jews is
that they are bullies, meanies. What greater accomplishment of Zionism
could be imagined?
Of course, this does not mean that the anti-Semites really think that the
Jews are mean or cruel to the "poor" Palestinians. The anti-Zionists do
not give a damn about the Palestinians, and the last thing they care about
is Arab human rights. This is why they have absolutely nothing to say
about the treatment of Arabs in Arab countries or by the Palestinian
When Saddam Hussein ordered Kuwaiti civilians to be forced to drink
gasoline and then had his troops shoot into their bellies to make them
explode (to the cheers and laughs of his stormtroopers) there was not a
single anti-Zionist who expressed disapproval or concern. The
anti-Zionists know perfectly well that Arabs are treated a thousand times
better in Israel (and this would be so even if one were to believe all
their accusations and allegations of mistreatment) than are Arabs in Arab
The anti-Semites lament supposed Israeli mistreatment of the "poor"
Palestinians because they think this is an effective way to delegitimize
and undermine the existence of Israel. In other words, they are motivated
by hatred of Jews and not by any compassion for Palestinians. They seek
to see Israel destroyed, not the Palestinians enfranchised, or rather
their only interest in Palestinian enfranchisement is as a tool to
endanger Israel's existence. Of the enormous Arab territories of the
Middle East, almost twice the land mass of the United States, the only
place where they suddenly are concerned for the welfare and civil rights
of Arabs is in Israel. The other Arabs, as far as they're concerned, can
go to hell.
And if they can accuse Israel of violating Arab civil rights (never mind
that their accusations are false and invented) then they can pretend to be
compassionate and interested in peace, not gutter bigots who hate Jews.
The anti-Semites have lost their ability to march about and accuse the
Jews of ritual murders and similar medieval libels (at least outside the
Arab media and Counterpunch magazine). Such things would make them
laughable in the West. No one outside the Arab world takes the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion as anything other than an embarrassment for
anti-Zionists. Hence they have seized onto a new propaganda tactic,
complaining that the Jews are oh, so mean and cruel - and bullies to boot.
At long last - after two millennia of exile - to be accused of being
bullies! To leave the anti-Semites with no more effective weapon than
heaping invective upon the mean Jews! For this one must say a blessing of
thanksgiving, a shecheyanu. And often.
Israel Is Now America's Closest Ally
By MICHAEL B. OREN
May 7, 2008
President George W. Bush will soon make his second visit to Israel in less
than six months, this time to celebrate the country's 60th anniversary.
The candidates for the presidency, Republican and Democratic alike, have
all traveled to Israel and affirmed their commitment to its security. So
have hundreds of congressmen.
American engineers, meanwhile, are collaborating with their Israeli
counterparts in developing advanced defense systems. American soldiers are
learning antiterrorist techniques from the Israeli army.
John McCain visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 2008.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the American flag is
rarely (if ever) burned in protest . indeed, some Israelis fly that flag
on their own independence day. And avenues in major American cities are
named for Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir. Arguably, there is no alliance in
the world today more durable and multifaceted than that between the United
States and Israel.
Yet the bonds between the two countries were not always so strong. For
much of Israel's history, America was a distant and not always friendly
Consider the period before Israel's founding in 1948, during the British
Mandate over Palestine. Though many Americans, Christians as well as Jews,
were committed to building the Jewish national home, their government's
policy was strictly hands-off. Palestine, in Washington's view, was
exclusively Britain's concern, and the Arab-Jewish conflict was a British
Accordingly, the Roosevelt administration raised no objection to Britain's
1939 decision to end Jewish immigration into Palestine, sealing off
European Jewry's last escape route from Nazism. The U.S. indifference to
Zionism deepened during World War II, when America feared alienating its
British allies and angering the Arabs, whose oil had become vital to the
war effort. Deferring to British and Arab demands, America confined
hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors in displaced-persons camps in
Europe rather than let them emigrate to Palestine.
America's ambivalence toward Zionism persisted after the war, as the
battle against Nazism gave way to the anticommunist struggle. While a
sizeable majority of Americans welcomed Israel's creation in May 1948,
policy makers in Washington feared that such support would trigger an Arab
oil boycott of the West and the Soviet take-over of Europe. Secretary of
State George Marshall even warned the president, Harry Truman, that he
would not back him for re-election if he recognized the newborn state. An
ardent Baptist whose best friend was a Jew, Truman ignored these warnings
and made the U.S. the first nation to accord de facto recognition to
Israel. But buckling to State and Defense Department pressures, Truman
also imposed an arms embargo on Israel during its desperate war of
independence. Later, he arm-twisted Israeli leaders to relinquish land to
the Arabs and to readmit Palestinian refugees.
Pressure for territorial concessions escalated under Truman's successor,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, who also vetoed weapons sales to Israel. His
secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, dismissed Israel as "the millstone
around our necks," and threatened it with sanctions during the 1956 Suez
Crisis. Israel is home to the Middle East's largest memorial to John F.
Kennedy, but Kennedy similarly refused to sell tanks and planes to Israel,
and warned that America's relationship with the Jewish state would be
"seriously jeopardized" by Israel's nuclear program. Lyndon B. Johnson was
the first president to invite an Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, to
Washington . 16 years after Israel's birth . but he then balked at
Eshkol's request for American help against the Arab armies assembling for
war in June 1967. "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it
alone," Johnson replied, implying that the U.S. would not stand beside
The Six-Day War nevertheless inaugurated a dramatic change in America's
attitude toward Israel. Israel's astonishing victory in that conflict
instantly transformed the "millstone" into an American asset, a hardy
fellow democracy and Cold War ally. Nixon regarded Israel as "the best
Soviet stopper in the Mideast," and furnished the weaponry Israel needed
to prevail in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter both
ran on platforms highly favorable to Israel, and dedicated themselves to
the search for Israel-Arab peace. By the end of the 1970s, an inchoate
U.S.-Israeli alliance had emerged, sealed by the existence of a potent
pro-Israel lobby in Washington and the extension to Israel of billions of
dollars of American aid.
But the relationship was hardly friction-free. Israel's reluctance to
forfeit territories captured in 1967, and its efforts to settle them,
became a perennial source of tension. Presidents Ford and Carter
threatened to withhold assistance from Israel unless it made territorial
concessions. President George H.W. Bush denied Israel loan guarantees for
resettling Russian immigrants in the West Bank. Israel's security policies
also jolted the alliance . Ronald Reagan condemned Israel's bombardment of
the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 as well as its siege of Beirut the
following year. Americans, in turn, irritated the Israelis with their
transfer of sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia and their opposition to
Israeli arms sales to China.
Such rifts have grown increasingly infrequent, however, and today there
are few visible fissures in the U.S.-Israeli front. Yet America has never
recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital . imagine if Israel refused to
recognize Washington. Powerful interest groups lobby against Israel in
Washington while much of American academia and influential segments of the
media are staunchly opposed to any association with Israel.
How does the alliance surmount these challenges?
One reason, certainly, is values . the respect for civic rights and the
rule of law that is shared by the world's most powerful republic and the
Middle East's only stable democracy. There is also Israel's determination
to fight terror, and its willingness to share its antiterror expertise.
Most fundamentally, though, is the amity between the two countries'
peoples. The admiration which the U.S. inspires among Israelis is
overwhelmingly reciprocated by Americans, more than 70% of whom, according
to recent polls, favor robust ties with the Jewish state.
No doubt further upheavals await the alliance in the future . as Iran
approaches nuclear capability, for example. Israel may act more muscularly
than some American leaders might warrant. The impending change of U.S.
administration will also have an effect. But such vicissitudes are
unlikely to cause a major schism in what has proven to be one of history's
most resilient, ardent and atypical partnerships.
Mr. Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is the author
of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the
Present," now available in paperback from Norton.
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