I told you this was coming. Increasingly, those who think Israel is to blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East, and who view pushing Israel back to barely defensible borders as the answer, have been pushing hard the meme that Israel is endangering U.S. troops.
Today, that meme is pushed by Robert Wright in the N.Y. Times:
America’s perceived support of — or at least acquiescence in — Israel’s more inflammatory policies endangers American troops abroad. In the long run, it will also endanger American civilians at home, funneling more terrorism in their direction.
Abe Foxman was right to criticize this trend, although wrong to frame it in terms of “blaming Jews for everything” or of attributing the meme to Gen. David Petraeus. Foxman’s correct analysis but incorrect characterization and attribution has given life to a cottage industry of people who have seized on danger to U.S. troops as a justification for Israel-bashing.
Those pushing the meme are not necessarily anti-Semitic or “anti-Israel,” but they are misusing the emotional issue of the safety of U.S. troops. Claims that Foxman called General David Petraeus a “Jew Baiter” are the types of false hyperbole used to divide Israel and the U.S. by people who view such division as a step forward.
Remember, the original justification for al–Qaeda attacks on the U.S. was the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. U.S. troops remain there as well as in numerous other Muslim countries. So should we pull out all our troops from all Muslim countries?
And while we are at it, should we end our support for “moderate” Muslim governments because it angers the fanatics? The result of giving in to the Muslim “street” is an endless parade of appeasements and abandonment of friends.
This really is the most pernicious argument being pushed by people like Wright. It is an attempt to demonize American supporters of Israel, and is the “dual loyalty” libel taken to a whole new level.
Next time an American soldier is killed in Afghanistan or Iraq or somewhere else in the Middle East, it will not be because Israel built housing units in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, or even on the West Bank. It will be because they hate us, they hate our way of life, and they want to drive all Western, non-Islamist influences from the region.
Do not lay violent fanaticism at Israel’s doorstep, or at the doorstep of Israel’s American supporters.
Update: Gary Bauer responds to Wright’s column, Standing with our Friend and Ally, Israel:
Finally, there is the pernicious idea that our traditional support for Israel outrages Muslims and thus endangers American soldiers’ lives. I guess one could say our support of Great Britain in the 1930s outraged the Nazis too, and thus endangered American soldiers’ lives. But of course standing with Britain was the right thing to do against the Nazis just as being a supporter of Israel today against the Islamofascists who strap bombs to their children to blow up Jews is the right thing to do.
Israel has never asked for a U.S. soldier to fight to defend it. In fact, our relationship with Israel has saved U.S. lives. The Israeli military has shared valuable intelligence with our military, and during the Cold War it supplied us with many Soviet weapons systems. Israeli technology is being used today by the U.S. military in Iraq to protect our soldiers from IEDs.
An America that prostrates itself before the Muslim world for fear of irritating it would be an America that no other American ally could count on.
So, in spite of Mr. Wright’s efforts to redefine what it means to be a friend to Israel, I will continue to support the traditional definition that recognizes the little democracy as the only reliable friend, and only truly free nation, in a “neighborhood” of thugs, dictators, and self-anointed kings.
Update 3-25-2010: Gen. Petraeus has called the reports by bloggers out of context, and denied that he laid any substantial blame on Israel for the violence towards the U.S.:
“There’s a 56-page document that we submitted that has a statement in it that describes various factors that influence the strategic context in which we operate and among those we listed the Mideast peace process,” he said. “We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean, that is a perception. It is there. I don’t think that’s disputable. But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly.”
He also noted that there were plenty of other important factors that were mentioned in the report, including “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place.”
Petraeus continued, “So we have all the factors in there, but this is just one, and it was pulled out of this 56-page document, which was not what I read to the Senate at all.”
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