Whacking Our Allies
February 20, 2003
For months Ive watched with fascination as
our brave conservative pundits have whacked at our cowardly, treacherous
allies for their failure to obey President Bush with due
servility. First they went after Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and
Egypt; more recently theyve been sneering at France, Germany, and
other nations of Old Europe.
This is what comes of the Bush
doctrine, which insists that if you arent with us with us,
that is, all the way, whatever we do or say or demand
youre with the terrorists. It reminds me of the way the Stalin
crowd used to insist that if you werent on the side of the
proletarian revolution, you were objectively fascist.
So today our right-wing
gladiators George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the boys
at National Review, to mention just a few have put
on their armor and war paint and are contemptuously heaving brickbats at
our no-good, gutless, appeasing allies (always spelling the
word with derisive quotation marks). Good patriots are now expected to
boycott Perrier and avoid dropping French and German phrases, so as to
teach these effete European creeps the lesson that World War II
apparently failed to get through their skulls.
I cant help noticing,
however, that one U.S. ally (no quote marks necessary here) is exempt
from all this riotous invective. That would be our only reliable ally in the
Middle East the one that has murdered American sailors and stolen
American military secrets.
To our heroic conservative
journalists, Israels treachery to the United States since 1954,
unlike Frances surrender to Hitler in 1940, is ancient history
down the Memory Hole. George Will spares Israel his exquisite
sarcasms. Limbaugh and Hannity, discussing Ariel Sharon, stop yelling and
speak in tones of hushed reverence. National Review
doesnt do long exposés of Israeli duplicity. When it comes to
Israel, these patriots defiant courage suddenly deserts them.
No, Israel is to be loved, honored,
supported, and, above all, trusted. Our right-wing patriots arent
alarmed, or even mildly curious, about Israels unacknowledged
weapons of mass destruction (including hundreds of nuclear
weapons) or about how, exactly, it came by them. In its unhappy relations
with the Arabs, including the Palestinian children who seem to attract so
much Israeli ammunition, Israel is always right. The motives of
Israels critics are always suspect. (Hitlers name is
occasionally mentioned, reminding us that any criticism of Jews leads
inexorably to genocide.)
When I hear our
ferocious hawks whaling away (if hawks can be said to whale) at France
or Belgium, I try to imagine them speaking of Israel with similar scorn,
fury, and ridicule. The idea is laughable.
If it turned out that the most
outré of recent conspiracy theories was true that Israel had
somehow arranged the 9/11 attacks I suspect that these hawks
would be only momentarily embarrassed. In due course they would explain
that Israel surely had understandable reasons, that the news media were
making a big sensation out of the incident because of their anti-Israel
bias, and that, still and all, Israel remained our staunch ally.
I was working at National
Review in the mid 1980s, when the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal
hit the front pages. Even then the magazine had totally lost its nerve
where Israel was concerned. The other editors (I was badly outnumbered)
took the bizarre position that Pollard himself should get the death
penalty, but that his Israeli employers should pay no penalty at all. Israel
was, still and all, our staunch ally.
A famous Jewish editor wrote a
letter to the editor praising this judicious view. My own view was that if
a country steals your military secrets (and peddles them to the Soviet
Union, to boot), it isnt exactly your staunch ally.
It wasnt as if
National Review took espionage lightly. It still talked in its
sleep about Alger Hiss and other Soviet agents of yore. But somehow
Israeli espionage was ... well, different. The magazine was jumpy
about Jews, as I later wrote in a column which, as I expected (and
intended), ended my 21 years of employment there. A tactless phrase, I
grant you, but quite true. And still true.
Behind all this courageous
excoriation of our old Arab and European allies is a thorough jumpiness
about Jews. A simple, sweaty fear. Our brave boys are scared to death.
Its as if theyd read the forged Protocols of the Learned
Elders of Zion, believed every word of them, and concluded that the
prudent course was to stay on the good side of the Elders of Zion.