Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Israel Is Not Our Ally – The Occidental Observer - by Bernard M. Smith

 It is more critical now than ever that we teach our kids and grandkids the importance of our alliance with the State of Israel. They are our most important strategic ally — and they are a dear friend to the United States of America. If we fail to educate our children of Israel’s importance, we risk raising a generation that sees no need to protect our most important strategic ally. Americans must always understand the significance of this land that God has promised to the Israelites; they must respect the Jewish people and the State of Israel; and they must always be on the side of freedom and good, never on the side of terrorism and evil.

Protecting the Promised Land by Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD)

It is very difficult to be an American Republican. I, for one, will definitely not be teaching my children of Israel’s “importance”; instead, I will teach my children that Israel is not an ally of America and that Jews are not the friends of non-Jews.

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Recently, Middle Eastern violence and warfare flared up again. After suffering its worst Palestinian violence after Hamas fighters broke out of the Gaza prison and massacred hundreds upon hundreds of Israeli citizens and kidnapped at least a hundred more on October 7, 2023, Israel has pounded the densely populated Gaza territory for the last few days. Obviously, the violence directed at non-combatants is atrocious and I am one degree separated from Israeli families who are dealing with the losses of their loved ones — or their loved ones’ loved ones. No matter what I say below — and this is not a matter of virtue signaling, I do not condone indiscriminate targeting of civilian men, women, and children. For a gentile, I know more Israelis than the average American — by a longshot. My views are not directed at them as much as they are directed at their country, which is an international menace. Moreover, this is no defense of Islam. I have a very dim view of the Islamic world and Islam itself. It is an ugly and pathological religion that confines its adherents in a glorification of violence against the non-Muslim. That I want to see international law, which itself is a creation of European values, vindicated has little to do with the fact that the victims of Israel’s failure to abide by it are Muslims.

To be sure, I do not wish to overstate what happened in Israel on October 7, 2023. Everyday throughout the world, civilians are subject to political violence. It is a terrible thing, but that what happened in Israel is fresh in our minds — as if it is the only place on the planet where such violence happened — is because we have been literally bombarded with non-stop coverage in what can only be described as victim pornography. That doesn’t minimize the horror of what happened in southern Israel that day, but when the editorial choices of what we see and read are dictated by people who want us to focus singularly on Israeli victims, we see that our obtuseness towards political violence in, for example, Armenia or Nigeria is not so much a defect in us as it is a consequence of what we are shown or not shown.

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In the United States, we hear repeatedly and stereophonically that Israel is “our greatest ally and friend.” We hear it in unanimous bipartisan fashion, and we never hear it challenged. Of course, to challenge it, even obliquely, is to be susceptible to the charge of antisemitism, which, in the United States, is no walk in the park. Setting aside antisemitic conspiracy theories, if a realpolitik truism is that you are ruled by those who you cannot criticize, then there can be little doubt that we are ruled by Jews and their gentile enablers. This is a statement of fact — whether I agree with it or not is irrelevant. We live in a country that punishes dissent from this orthodoxy.

Political axioms are powerful things — for the average American, certain principles are assumed. How they became assumed, or why they are assumed at all, is never questioned once the axiom becomes a fixture of American life. In that sense, we are a very dull people, but I am not sure we are much different than any other political community, now or historically. The reality is that it takes courage, intelligence, and, most importantly, imagination to question political axioms — to see the world without the mental crutch they provide. It takes moxie to imagine a world in which those axioms were returned to the arena of discourse to see how, if at all, they would fare in the marketplace of political ideas. America’s reflexive and unqualified support of Israel falls squarely within this axiomatic paradigm. The ugly reality hiding in plain sight of this political axiom is that Israel is not merely not “our greatest ally,” our support of Israel directly contravenes the interests of Americans the world over and contradicts the most basic Anglo-American values we hold. Not only should we not support Israel — militarily, economically, or culturally — we ought to treat it as a political pariah. We are very far from doing that, but Israel has become the international monster it is precisely because of the unqualified support from of the United States. Take that away and Israel is in enormous — even existential — trouble. To understand that is to know why Israel’s supporters are as fanatic as they are — a hole in the dike of American support, no matter how seemingly trivial, is something that must be struck hard by Jewish berserkers because the whole house of cards could fall, and they know it.

But let us return to the political axiom of Israel’s status as “our greatest ally.” Let us probe that just a little. Setting aside all other considerations, an alliance between countries is typically driven by three foreign policy factors: reciprocal benefits, cultural/civilizational harmony and symmetrical values, and economic considerations. At the threshold of any alliance between states lies the proposition that each benefit from the relationship — and that benefit must be predicated upon some mutuality. In normal functioning foreign policy, the concept of quid pro quo is a given. The mutuality between countries needed is tied to the civilizational harmony that exists between them; so, the United Kingdom and United States are natural allies because of the shared history and culture between them. For us, more broadly, Western Europe and the United States share a civilization, which makes an alliance not so much a consideration but an outcome of that shared civilization. In fact, that shared civilization is what makes the similarity of values so predominant. At least historically, we valued the rule of law, relative democracy, freedoms of press, association, and religion — and in each of these political values, the United States and Western Europe were largely inline — so much so that we never needed to negotiate these values in order to strike an alliance. To be sure, I am not defending the Enlightenment civilization without qualification that has grown up over the last three or four centuries but only observing that Americans generally share certain political values with their Western European counterparts as a matter of course. The same is true of Islamic countries and their values, and the same is true of Latin American or East Asian countries and their values. Finally, in addition to securing peaceful relations, economic considerations drive foreign policy — trade and economic development are drivers of whom we see as friends and allies. As will be discussed, none of these considerations favor America’s special relationship — financial, military, and diplomatic — with Israel.

What I have written, however, is a hypothetical statement of foreign policy considerations in a multipolar world — and we do not live in a multipolar world. America’s considerations, at least since the end of the Second World War, are imperial and hegemonic. As the world’s leading superpower, the United States has an additional consideration that animates — indeed dominates — its foreign policy considerations — namely, that its status as world hegemon remains unchallenged economically and militarily. Imperial considerations create different foreign policy imperatives, and the United States has played a pernicious role propping up its hegemonic status — overthrowing unhelpful governments by fomenting revolution and attacking others when it saw fit. America’s current role as Russia’s primary adversary in Ukraine can only be understood in the context of its manic attempt to preserve its hegemony. Setting aside the moral considerations of America’s hegemony and taking it for granted as a goal of American statesmanship, the reality is that America’s slavish support for Israel does not assist it in preserving its hegemony.

Simply stated, Israel is not an ally of the United States in any meaningful sense. It is a drag on the moral and economic wellbeing of the United States. Moreover, by propping up the mendacious policies of the Israeli government, Americans and American interests are made less safe and less prosperous as a result. It is time that this alliance is questioned — and questioned hard.

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Before we even address the putative benefits of America’s support of Israel, we should consider those who support it for nonrational reasons. First, there are American Jews, most obviously. While it is alleged — constantly — that to suggest the dual loyalty of American Jews to the United States and Israel is tantamount to antisemitism, the fact of their dual loyalty cannot be seriously questioned. Indeed, it is not a dual loyalty at all — it is, almost uniformly, a singular loyalty to Israel that trumps loyalty to the United States. In this way, American Jews are very different from every other ethnicity that has immigrated to the United States. Within a generation or two, every other group that has come here has largely become Americans with proportionately less interest in their native homelands in every generation, but Jews, many who have been in the United States for multiple generations are very different. Israel is not merely something they are interested in — Israel is their chief concern, especially at times like this when Israel is engaged in a military crisis. With the exception of a small percentage of progressive Jews, the vast majority of American Jews view Israel — and American support for Israel — as a defining point of political life. While they are a small percentage of Americans, American Jews are vastly overrepresented in the quartet of modern culture-making powers: (i) media and entertainment; (ii) academia; (iii) government and lobbying; and (iv) finance and banking. Jews, through their ethnic monopolies and propensity for groupthink, are able to use their influence to drive the discussion and policy in a way that tilts overwhelmingly and uniformly in a pro-Israeli way. Indeed, AIPAC, an entity that should register as a foreign agent, is the most powerful lobby in the United States — and single-handedly puts Congress in its pocket. The Jews, through their influence and their lobby, are the single greatest drivers of U.S. support of Israel. A recapitulation of this outsized influence is the subject of an excellent survey written by recognized foreign policy experts John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt in 2007, The Israel Lobby and the U.S. Foreign Policy. Parenthetically, that book answered two questions: does the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. fuel anti-American sentiments in the Middle East? If the uncritical U.S. support for Israel is not driven by either national interest or moral compass, what explains the reason behind “special relationship”? Notably, both authors were accused of antisemitism for writing it. Even if outdated by fifteen years, the book should be read by everyone because the problems it identifies have only gotten worse.

Second, there are American Evangelical Christians, and many Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN watchers fit squarely in the “useful idiot” category. It is beyond the pale of this essay to address the defective dispensationalist theology that has led a significant percentage of American Evangelicals to become rabidly and often blood-thirstily Zionist, but it is what it is. While I am no Protestant, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, John Wesley, and John Knox would all be very surprised to learn — or even understand — the relatively new Protestant fascination with Judaism and Zionism five hundred years after the Reformation. Suffice it to say, none of the 95 theses nailed to the church door in Wittenberg included a complaint that the medieval Church had been too solicitous of the Jews (even though she was) or that the reformed party believed that a new Jewish kingdom should be formed in the Holy Land. It makes one wonder who coopted them. Thus, a weighty portion of the GOP then is militantly Zionist as a matter of heretical religious dogma, which is not prone to argument.

Third, there is a war party in the United States closely allied with the real-world military industrial complex. It’s a war party that loves Israel because Israel keeps conflict evergreen throughout the world. The ideological component of these people are a subset of mostly Jews commonly known as “neo-conservatives” (like William Kristol, Robert & Donald Kagan, Richard N. Perle, “Scooter” Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot A. Cohen, and Elliot Abrams). Needless to say, these are the vilest people in American civic life and not only do these people provide the loudest and most aggressive form of advocacy for Israel, but they are also virtually singularly responsible for the disastrous American wars in the Middle East and America’s current policy of tempting nuclear war with Russia over Ukraine. Unlike an ordinary functioning state — one that wants peace as the normative condition — we have an influential portion of Americans who like war, armaments, and conflict whether it extends American hegemony or not. War hawks, neocons, and Israel sycophants, like the currently insane Senator Lindsay Graham or the deceased Senator John McCain, were not philosemitic on the basis on a religious conviction, but on the basis of their bloodlust.

Fourth, without making any judgments of anyone in particular, the recent Jeffery Epstein affair also makes one wonder how many American politicians and powerbrokers are fanatical supports of Israel for the simple reason of kompromat. Needless to say, the idea that Mossad has pictures and videos of such Americans in compromising positions with underage boys and girls is far from wildly speculative and goes a long way in explaining the seemingly inexplicable pro-Israeli fanaticism seen by some American politicians for ostensibly no reason at all. That, and we cannot ignore simple old-fashioned bribery. There is also the less sexy proposition of simply buying politicians in seemingly legitimate ways. Consider the rabid Israel supporter, former South Carolina Governor, and Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley:

Haley stunned Washington by resigning her role in the Trump administration in 2018, less than two years after taking office. A spokesperson for Haley claims that the family financial troubles had “no bearing whatsoever on Ambassador Haley’s decision to leave her position” and points to a section of Haley’s resignation letter in which she expressed support for “rotation in office.” But the same letter also suggested that Haley may have had money-making ventures on her mind: “As a businessman,” she wrote to Donald Trump, “I expect you will appreciate my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up.” Indeed. Since then, Haley’s net worth has ballooned from less than $1 million to an estimated $8 million. How did she make so much money in so little time? By following a tried-and-true playbook for politicians looking to cash in on their fame. Speeches to companies like Barclays and organizations such as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs provided more money in a day than Haley had previously earned in a year. It’s not clear how many talks she gave from 2019 to 2021, but Haley hauled in $2.3 million from just 11 events in 2022. She wrote two books after leaving the Trump administration. A 2019 memoir sold more than 100,000 copies. A 2022 title provided more than $350,000 in advance payments. Haley also offered consulting services, generating more than $700,000 in fees. Then there were corporate boards. She became a director of Boeing in 2019, then stepped down the next year, collecting over $300,000 in cash and stock. Haley remains on the board of the United Homes Group, which has provided her with more than $250,000, as well as the promise of earning much more as equity grants vest down the road.

One might argue that somebody paid handsomely for Haley’s vociferous Israeli support. Taken together, there are several groups within American society that treat American support for Israel axiomatically — Jews, Evangelicals, war hawks, and grifters — such that it can never be a subject of debate. There is no point in engaging with them therefore because Israel can never be discussed dispassionately or constructively given their nonrational basis for Israeli support. That said, a wide swath of American Republicans — Catholics, non-Evangelical Protestants, unchurched — all are theoretically open to such a discussion. Moreover, the quixotic strength of Donald Trump’s appeal, even though he himself was extremely pro-Israeli, is a demonstration that an appeal to America’s citizenry (or a significant portion) on the basis of what it best for this country and its citizens still has appeal. “Make America Great Again” — or America First — was seen as an existential threat to all of the Israel Firsters cited above. That Trump still has significant pull is a sign that America’s wake-up call with respect to Israel is possible, which explains why he was vilified as no politician has ever been vilified. Strictly speaking, it is possible to advocate for this message with some hope of its success.

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The façade of Israel’s value can be punctured by the simple asking of questions.

What is the basis for our unqualified support for Israel? Initially, we can ask where is the reciprocity, or, stated differently, what does America receive from its support of Israel? Indeed, Israel, a high-income, developed country, is the single greatest beneficiary of American aid. Why? What do we get for it beyond platitudes from the beneficiary and its American supporters? Nothing of value that I can see, and I challenge anyone to state it succinctly. Setting aside the wisdom of American aid to Third World countries — both in its efficacy and as a matter of thrift — at least American aid that goes to Nigeria or Guatemala to build infrastructure, schools, or industry has a moral component. There is no moral benefit — and indeed an immoral detriment, discussed below — to subsidizing Israel. She has not proved to be a loyal partner — indeed, Israel regularly spies on the U.S. and does not act like an ally in practice. Even ignoring the more toxic allegations of the “dancing Israelis” and their involvement in the 9/11 attacks (presumably to empower the American war party), the plausible involvement of Mossad in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (presumably because of his insistence that Israel not develop nuclear weapons) or the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty during the 1967 War that the Israelis started, what have we gained from the billions of taxpayer dollars given to Israel? If we take those allegations seriously — or even inquire about them, which is more than we can say of the entire media establishment — then we might say that we are subsidizing an undeclared enemy of the United States. And even if we set all of that aside, we obtain nothing of value in return for supporting what amounts to a regime of Jews practicing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians for a century and calling it a country.

One might argue that we obtain — at least potentially — intelligence from Israel about our enemies in the Middle East. Israel is, after all, a technological behemoth that has its electronic fingers in everyone’s pie. But that begs a further question: why do we have enemies in the Middle East in the first place? Would the Muslim world, fractured as it is, hate the United States if it did not subsidize Israel in the first place? Would we have Islamic terrorism in the United States at all? Would we need to be subjected to intrusive security examinations to fly domestically but for our support of Israel and the collective ire it creates in much of the world? Whatever residual benefit the United States receives in obtaining Israeli intelligence is offset by the threshold consideration that the need for such intelligence would be mitigated altogether if we did not support a regime that antagonized the Islamic world as it does. To make it clearer, the United States never had colonies in the Middle East like France or the U.K. There is thus no reason for the U.S. to be a geopolitical foe of these people. But we are, and for one reason: because of our unqualified support of Israel. Take that away and we never, for a variety of reasons, need to worry about another 9/11 (no matter who orchestrated it). Israel is an international albatross around the neck of American interests — our support has an exponentially negative impact in every conceivable way in which a state can have foreign relations. Nothing is gained by supporting Israel and much is lost.

Culturally and civilizationally, we have little in common with Israel. That may seem odd — after all, aren’t we a “Judeo-Christian” country? Setting aside religion, what do we have civilizationally in common with Israel? Is it democratic? Does it respect the rule of law? Is it non-sectarian? Does it respect the rights of minorities? Israel is a country that violates international law with impunity — an impunity given to it by the United States’ regular veto in the United Nations’ Security Counci of resolutions critical of Israel or, in the case of the Gaza war, a resolution for a “humanitarian pause.”

In every way, Israel is a very different world from America. It is not democratic if take into consideration that half of the population under its control (the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank) have no democratic rights at all. Israel runs roughshod over the rule of law. It allows settlers to physically remove the native people from their homes and land in the West Bank and has the temerity to call this practice, “the redemption” of the land of Israel. It allows unfettered immigration of Jews to Israel — all with a generous subsidy — while it keeps the it has stolen from Palestinians in successive wars. It has — increasingly — theocratic tendencies such that the Jewish religion is favored at the expense of other religions. And all of that says nothing of the Jewish proclivity to spit — literally — on the Christian pilgrims who visit the holy sites within Israel.

From the perspective of international law, Israel is an apartheid state. According to Amnesty International:

Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law. The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, and the domination and oppression of one racial group by another. It has since been adopted by the international community to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they occur in the world. The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system. Apartheid can best be understood as a system of prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment by one racial group of members of another with the intention to control the second racial group.

Again, one does not have to like the religion of Muhammed (and I don’t) to understand that the modern state of Israel is founded on the displacement and political neutering of the Palestinian people, carried on by an Israeli state that abets Jewish supremacists and religious bigots. Largely ignored in the American press, Amnesty International issued a damning, nearly 280-page report in 2022 that outlined much of what Israel does towards non-Jews in Palestine. “The Israeli government is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians and must be held accountable.” One need not agree with the politics of Amnesty International, but the reality is that international law should matter for us. International law reflects principles of European civilization that were forged over thousands of years and represent a statement of basic human rights. Millions of Palestinians live under Israeli control effectively as stateless refugees on their own land without the right to vote or travel freely. The Gaza territory, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, is an open-air prison in which the residents live in deplorable conditions. If a concentration camp is a confined geographic space in which a population is compelled to live within with severe restrictions on liberty and human rights, Gaza is a modern concentration camp. At the very least, it is an internment camp. And this is what we are subsidizing?

It is even worse than the report outlined above. In what is one of the most compelling books ever written on Rabbinic/Talmudic Judaism and Israel, Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, demonstrates the various and systematic ways that Israel dehumanizes the “other” in law and in other ways. A dispassionate examination of what Israel has done, and is doing, demonstrates that Israel’s values are starkly at variance with American political values in the broadest and most fundamental sense.

There is an argument made not infrequently that America “owes” the Jews support because of the Holocaust. Setting aside the question of the scale and extent of the Holocaust, in what moral universe does harm sustained by one party allow that same party to inflict harm on an unrelated third party with impunity? Whatever we can say about the Palestinians, they have no culpability for the Second World War. Why should they bear the reparations — in land and in human rights — to Jews who were allegedly harmed by another? What is the moral basis for displacing them? More to the point, why should we subsidize that harm? The United States does not owe the Jews anything with respect to the Second World War — not under any calculus. Simply stated, there is zero moral imperative on the part of Americans to support Israel on account of what transpired during World War II. Whatever happened, it was not the fault of Americans, and it was not the fault of the Palestinians.

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Israel is a grotesque country. Not only do we not receive anything in compensation for our support, but American interests are also damaged as a result of our support for Israel. There is no moral imperative to support Israel. There is no shared civilization or values between us. Israel is a pariah state that is propped up by American support. Compromise that support and Israel would face an existential threat given the terrible things that it does and the lack of international support it has sans America. While my own politics tend towards non-intervention generally such that I lament American imperial pretensions, I am not immune to human suffering beyond the borders of my country. To be sure, I denounce the murder of civilians in any conflict — whether they are Israeli or Palestinian or whether they are Rwandan, but it is not my business — or my country’s business — to fix it as a matter of foreign policy. Whether or not it is too late in the game to address the enormous cost of America’s immoral and stupid support of Israel, these things must be said.

Israel is not our greatest ally — not by a long shot.

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Post-Script: The asymmetry between Hamas and Israel militarily — and the showering of bombs and missiles upon Gaza — make one feel as if there is no stopping Israeli power in the Middle East. That is, at least in my opinion, a misreading of the situation. Israel is in very big trouble — and its problems are internal as opposed to external. Israel’s demographics demonstrate that she has already moved from democratic and liberal pretensions to something that is more decidedly religio-fascistic. Israel’s Labor Party, the country’s equivalent to the American Democratic Party, is dead. Likud, its equivalent to the Republican Party, is a now a minority party propped up by outright fascists and theocrats. Within a generation or two, Israel will drop the façade altogether of any commonality with Anglo-American values of political liberalism. The internal restraints on the worst Israeli behavior are breaking down irretrievably. What I predict is that “normal” Israelis are likely to flee the country as it continues down its path towards a Jewish Taliban, which will only hasten its transformation. A Jewish theocracy will be next to impossible to support, even for American stooges, and that theocracy is inevitable as a demographic certainty. In due time, as a matter of when, not if, Israel will become an openly illiberal theocracy that says the quiet parts out load — one that will openly and defiantly persecute non-Jews inside the state. Theodore Herzl’s experiment of Zionist nation-building is not likely to make it a century before it all comes tumbling down.