The Obama Administration on the Defensive on Israel; Republicans to the Rescue

The ADL must feel like they are playing Whac-A-Mole these days. Every time they look around, there’s another “anti-Semite” or, what amounts to the same thing from their point of view,  a critic of Israel to whack over the head.  Just recently three Obama administration officials got off the reservation on Israel, leading to a JTA article headlined “Remarks on Israel by three U.S. officials spark furor. First up was US ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, a major (Jewish) Obama fundraiser, who

caused an uproar when he suggested on Dec. 1 that hostility among European Arabs and Muslims toward Jews was rooted in anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should be distinguished from traditional forms of anti-Semitism.

You see, in the Never-Never land of the ADL, Muslim hostility toward Jews has nothing to do with actual Jewish behavior toward Muslims in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. It’s a corollary of the general Jewish stance that anti-Semitism never has anything to do with the behavior of Jews but only with various psychopathologies and delusions of non-Jews. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney called on the Obama administration to dismiss Gutman for these remarks, and the ADL was predictably outraged.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also got in trouble for his his remarks at the Saban Center (attended by  none other than uber-Zionist Haim Saban himself). Panetta placed the blame for lack of progress in negotiations squarely on Israel: “Just get to the damn [negotiating] table.  Just get to the table” This was followed by applause from the gathering, suggesting that just beneath the veneer of solid support for Israel, there is quite a bit of frustration. Although not much remarked on, Panetta’s speech also was very tough on Iran, but one had the feeling that he was tossing a bone to the Israel Lobby that desperately wants war.  His remarks fell well short of a call for war:

[A military attack] would only, I think, ultimately not destroy their ability to produce an atomic weapon, but simply delay it – number one.  Of greater concern to me are the unintended consequences, which would be that ultimately it would have a backlash and the regime that is weak now, a regime that is isolated would suddenly be able to reestablish itself, suddenly be able to get support in the region, and suddenly instead of being isolated would get the greater support in a region that right now views it as a pariah.

Thirdly, the United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases.  Fourthly – there are economic consequences to that attack – severe economic consequences that could impact a very fragile economy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States.

And lastly I think that the consequence could be that we would have an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.

Not what the neocons want to hear. Needless to say, Republican presidential candidates criticized Panetta in an attempt to court Jewish media influence and money. (It’s not about Jewish votes—Jews are not a significant percentage of voters, and the vast majority will vote for Obama anyway.) Gingrich criticized Panetta for pressuring Israel and said that on the first day of his administration the US embassy would be moved to Jerusalem. Most significantly, he vowed to appoint nutcase neocon John Bolton as Secretary of State—a move that would certainly make a US war with Iran quite probable. (Such promises also put a great deal of pressure on the Obama administration to match the war fever coming from the Republicans.) Bolton was not confirmed by the Senate for his position as UN Ambassador because of his is super-hawkish views.

Bank on this: If the Israel Lobby doesn’t get its war by pressuring the Obama Administration, it will certainly get it from the Gingrich administration. As Gingrich said, “The only rational long-term policy is regime replacement.”

Gingrich has already received over $7,000,000 from  Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, as of 2010. This doesn’t include a recent donation of an undisclosed amount, but we can be sure it’s very generous because Newt is definitely saying all the right things to please the neocons and Likudniks.

Jay Leno got it right, commenting (Dec. 8) that Gingrich promised not only to support Israel but also to make his next wife Jewish. John Stewart, on the other hand, didn’t really get at the outrageous expressions of fealty by Gringrich (or Romney), preferring to go after the irrelevant Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum, and pretending that subservience to the Israel Lobby is really all about the intense Christianity of the Republican candidates. But some good laughs anyway.

Actually, far more Jewish money has gone to Romney than to Gingrich, probably because he seemed like a sure winner for a long time. Romney also has a stellar cast of neocons as his foreign policy advisors, including David Wurmser, an Israeli double agent who participated in Richard Perle’s notorious “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the [Israeli] Realm,” a blueprint for the Iraq war written for an Israeli think tank and presented to the Israeli government (see here, p. 44).

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is the third Obama administration official to anger the pro-Israel folks. Her sin was that she “reportedly expressed concerns about some aspects of domestic Israeli politics. She was said to have criticized proposed Knesset legislation aimed at curbing foreign funding of Israeli NGOs and gender-segregated bus lines serving haredi Orthodox areas, among other domestic developments.”

This violates the official propaganda that Israel is “just like us”—a model democracy, with typical Western attitudes on women’s rights. Bills in the Knesset aim to cut off funding for organizations critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.  The reality, of course, is that Israel is reverting to its Middle Eastern roots where democracy is a foreign concept and where women are decidedly second-class citizens. These trends will intensify in the future because the Orthodox and ethno-nationalists are the ones having the children.

But Newt knows exactly what to say:

Gingrich decried what he called “the one-sided moral disarmament of the Judeo-Christian civilization.” And he lashed out at the State Department: “We are morally disarmed by a State Department incapable of articulating the cause of freedom.”

Which shows that he really has no concept of the deep differences between Jewish culture and Western civilization. More likely, he understands the gulf between Judaism and the West, but why tell the truth when fulfilling your personal ambitions is a definite possibility?

Philip Weiss sums it up by saying that “American Jews are waking up to the fact that Israeli society is nothing like ours.”  Right. It’s the diametric opposite to Western society with its commitment to individualism and its traditional of a relatively elevated position for women. Weiss may be right that American Jews are turning off to Israel, and indeed, there is evidence for  increasing discontent about Israel on the left in the US.

But it’s also quite clear that American Jewish supporters of Israel retain a great deal of power, despite its dedication to apartheid, its project of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. And despite its increasing domination by traditional Middle Eastern culture where democracy and individual rights are absent, and there is complete separation of the sexes and a lowered position of women. And that makes war in the Middle East a quite probable outcome.

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