Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Israel lobby is built on the biggest guilt trip in the world – Mondoweiss

Posted by M. C. on February 21, 2019

I’ve been reading Amos Oz’s books since his death, and one of the feelings he leaves me with is: Self-contempt. Many of Oz’s characters look on American Jews with disdain. “To be without power is, in my eyes, both a sin and a catastrophe. It’s the sin of exile, and Diaspora,” says one. Another says that Diaspora Jews “shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of… life.”

The message is clear. Jews in the west are half-made because they never had to fight. They haven’t served in the Israeli army, at the front line of reborn Jewish sovereignty. But those exiled Jews derive pride and strength from the armed Jewish nation; Israel has given them international prestige. Because once Jews went like sheep to slaughter, we formed lines to get on the cattle cars. Now we are a proud nation.

But those exiled Jews have no skin in the game. They are living comfortable idle existences. Getting up like me this morning and going to my desk.

This is the core truth of the Israel lobby. The American Jews feel guilty that they are not on the front lines. They are lesser; the Hebrew language even describes Jews who leave Israel as such: yordim, lower. So they must do everything they can for the higher, fighting Jews of Israel. Raise money for Israel, buy off politicians, make sure that the U.S. government sticks by Israel through thick and thin and every massacre too.

It’s been this way for a long time. American Jews may be peaceniks here but they can’t criticize Israel beyond the mild demurral.

Back in 1967, Lyndon Johnson said that rabbis who were lobbying him to move the Sixth Fleet to the Gulf of Aqaba for Israel wouldn’t give him a screwdriver to send to Vietnam. The poet Robert Lowell saw his New York intellectual friends making the same somersault: “We had a great wave of New York Jewish nationalism, all the doves turning into hawks.”

Ten years later Jimmy Carter made the mistake of thinking that because American Jews were liberals they would side with him against Israel’s new rightwing prime minister Menachem Begin when Carter was challenging Begin over settlements. Carter was wrong. The religious ethnic national tie was stronger.

Israel had made American Jews proud, they were in for a dime or a million dollars. “We Are One!” wrote the historian Melvin Urofsky.

Philip Roth heard it from his father. “’Now they’ll think twice before they pull our beards!’ Militant, triumphant Israel was to his aging circle of Jewish friends their avenger for the centuries and centuries of humiliating oppression.”…

It’s my “Jewish duty” to be friendly with the Trump administration, explained David Harris of the American Jewish Committee— so that we keep Trump’s ear when we push Israel.

AIPAC says the same thing: There must never be daylight between the White House and the Israeli government. So that means holding both sides in a tight embrace.

The American guilt trip never ends. At Any and Every Israel lobby event someone is sure to cut off criticism by leaning into a microphone and saying, We don’t live over there. Our sons and daughters don’t go into the army, it’s a tough neighborhood, and we can’t really judge the decisions that Israel makes about her security.

Even liberal Zionists honor that code. A progressive NY synagogue gives neoconservatives the stage to tell American liberals to STFU. “Look, it’s easy to sit here on West 86th street.” It’s “cavalier” to “second-guess” Israel. “I believe that as Americans what we can do… is above all stand with Israel against existential threats, terror threats.”

And if the liberals forget to STFU, an Israeli politician is sure to remind them. We live soft lives in the U.S.

Asked in an English-language television interview about criticism of Israeli policies by some U.S. Jews, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely questioned whether “people that never send their children to fight for their country” could understand the “complexity” of the Middle east.

The heroes in the Amos Oz books are the brawny tanned Israeli warriors, who don’t think twice about blowing up “enemy” villages. They go on courageous “reprisal raids” against faceless enemies at night. Arthur Koestler said 80 years ago that European Jews were a “sick race”: because they don’t know how to wield arms and till the soil.

The Jews of the Israel lobby believe this. They think that Israel has figured out the right relationship to the Arab world and we are never to question it. We might suggest some minor changes in the p.r. campaign, but we’re going to hold the bag for you forever…

Be seeing you

USS Liberty




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