Interesting Times: Join the conspiracy

The NY Review of Books published a sequel to the Harvard paper trashing the "Israel lobby."

May 25, 2006 14:08
saul singer 88

saul singer 88. (photo credit: )


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Remember the Harvard paper that trashed the "Israel lobby"? Now Michael Massing has written an 8,000-word sequel in the New York Review of Books that comes to the same conclusion, complete with a helpful guide to all the awful people behind the conspiracy to support Israel, including this writer. Though Massing attempts to correct some of the more egregious factual errors in the original paper by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, he repeats their tendency to dredge up old myths and demonize anyone who does not share their views as a warmonger. Take this gem: "The 'Gang of Four,' as these men [senior AIPAC board members] are known, do not share the general interest of a large part of the Jewish community in promoting peace in the Middle East. Rather, they seek to keep Israel strong, the Palestinians weak, and the United States from exerting pressure on Israel." People who support Israel hate peace. It's so simple, why didn't I see that? But this is just an hors d'oeuvre. What really gets Massing's goat is this: "While pursuing its traditional concerns about Israel, the lobby... has been steadily expanding its mission, becoming a strong force in the extended network of national security groups and leaders who have used September 11, the war on terror, and Israel as a basis for seeking a more aggressive US stance in the world." "The network with which AIPAC is associated," Massing generously notes, "does not constitute any sort of conspiracy or cabal... Still, it would be foolish to ignore the very real ways in which... they agitate for a more muscular US presence in the Middle East and beyond." Calling people "warmongers" wouldn't be polite. The truth, however, is that Massing has hit on the crux of the issue, and, what is more, he is right. There is a commonality of thinking between those who strongly support Israel and those who believe that America is at war against those who have declared war against America. I WOULDN'T CALL the meeting of the minds between Massing, Walt, Mearsheimer and the left-"realist" alliance they represent a conspiracy, but they do constitute a force that is clearly trying to turn the clock back on America's post-9/11 paradigm shift. Massing cites his taboo-breaking heroes' related belief that Israel is neither a strategic nor moral asset to the US, but has - as "a rallying point for Osama bin Laden" - become a "liability" in the war against terrorism. The "leftealist" alliance has become so blinded by its hatred of George Bush that even its more moderate members are saying bizarre things. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman (who supported the ousting of Saddam Hussein) openly prefers a nuclear Iran to a military strike carried out by the Bush Administration against Iranian nuclear sites. "It may be that learning to live with a nuclear Iran is the wisest thing under any circumstances," he wrote on April 19. With the debate at such a low ebb, I am proud to be in the camp that says: we, the West, must fight the war that has been unjustly launched against us. We can argue about how best to fight that war, but we should agree that at stake are the freedoms and security of billions of people around the world. We are facing forces of darkness no less dangerous or brutal than the Nazis; it is not our fault, and we must win. What is so hard to understand about that? WHAT MAKES ME even more proud is that history will likely show that supporters of Israel, like those who fought for Soviet Jewry, inadvertently saved the world. When Natan Sharansky sat in his prison cell in the Soviet Union, he and his KGB captors knew that his seemingly parochial fight for the right to emigrate to Israel threatened the entire Soviet monolith. And they were right. It was the Soviet Jewry movement that brought about the Jackson-Vanik amendment linking trade to human rights, thereby creating a huge crack in leftealist strategies of detente and appeasement. That crack ultimately exposed Soviet communism's hollow moral core and caused its collapse. Similarly, it is Israel's struggle to exist that continues to be the principal point of resistance to the Islamist jihad for world domination. Yes, Israel is a "rallying point" for Bin Laden. But is also a rallying point for the West to defend itself. The "expansion" of AIPAC's mission that Massing decries is a perfect example. AIPAC is busy fighting to ensure that the US not allow Iran's mullahs to go nuclear. Is this in Israel's interest? Of course. Is it in America's interest? Not a bit less. The leftealists would leave Israel to the jackals, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan memorably called them, but in doing so they would hardly be defending America's interests. They would only be whetting the jackals' appetite. The irony, of course, is that those who would deny the war we are in and hamstring America's ability to fight it will only prolong that war and ensure that it takes many more victims. The jihadis are few and weak. Iran is a joke of an enemy compared to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. The West easily has the collective economic and diplomatic resources to bring rogues like Iran, Syria and North Korea to their knees - as has already happened to Libya's mad dictator - without even firing a shot. And if it came to military action, this too would not be a contest that Iran would have a chance of winning. There is only one way for the West to succumb to the jihadis, and that is for us to become so demoralized and divided that we will not lift a finger in our own defense. Tyrants, be they Nazis, Soviets or Teheran's mullahs - or common street bullies for that matter - have always had the same theory of victory: that bluster, ruthlessness and intimidation can overcome free, law-abiding, peace-loving people. The longer it takes to prove them wrong again, the higher the price.

- Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer is author of the book, Confronting Jihad: Israel's Struggle & the World After 9/11

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