Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:25 AM
It was truly surreal watching Republicans interrogate Chuck Hagel about his support for (or loyalty to) Israel during last week’s Senate hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary. In fact, Israel figured so prominently that I felt moved to title my commentary on the hearing, Was Hagel Nominated as Defense Secretary for the U.S. or Israel?
[Republican Senator] Cruz personified the ironic phenomenon of the American who acts more like a Zionist than any Jew in Israel – treating, as he did, any hint of criticism Hagel has ever uttered about Israel as if it were tantamount to blasphemy against the almighty God.
(“Was Hagel Nominated as Defense Secretary for the U.S. or Israel,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 31, 2013)
Yet, when all is said and done, the only credible reason Republicans will be able to offer for opposing Hagel’s nomination is that he had the effrontery to assert that too many American lawmakers do the bidding of the “Jewish” lobby without any regard for the likely negative impact on prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Never mind that Hagel’s assertion is based on the self-evident truth that Israel has become as sacred a cow in American politics as Mom, apple pie … and guns. (It speaks volumes that many pundits are now referring to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC as the “NRA of American foreign policy.”)
Israel has become thus because, on the one hand, evangelical Christians consider its security key to their salvation; and on the other hand, politicians of every stripe consider pandering about its security key to their election (i.e., because American Jews have inordinate media power and contribute more to political campaigns than any other demographic group … by far).
As it happens, like Hagel, I have been as unabashed in criticizing Israel’s role as a de facto apartheid government in Palestinian territories as I have been in supporting America’s role as the de facto guarantor of Israel’s security.
The difference of course is that the backlash I’ve sustained for daring to criticize Israel pales in comparison to that which has been raining down on Hagel ever since Obama nominated him a month ago. Except that in both cases the backlash in America is rendered moot by the resonance such criticisms have always had in Israel.
I was initially drawn to Moreh when I heard him assert on Friday’s edition of Hardball on MSNBC that leaders of both the Israeli military and intelligence service (the gatekeepers) have more confidence in the way President Obama is dealing with Israel’s sworn enemies than in the way their own prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, is dealing with them.
Not least because his assertion resonated with what I wrote in Obama Dissing Israeli PM Netanyahu? The iPINIONS Journal, September 12, 2012:
Top military officials in Israel seem more in synch with the geo-strategic steps Obama is taking towards military confrontation with Iran than with the war-mongering steps Netanyahu is urging him to take.
It also resonated with the way I called Republicans out during last year’s presidential campaign, including in this same commentary, for propagating the notion that Obama was “throwing Israel under the bus.” Because they knew full well that no less a person than Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, was all over U.S. television at the same time declaring that military co-operation between the United States and Israel has never been “deeper” and more committed than under the Obama administration.
But, during another interview on his U.S. media tour, Moreh went to the heart of what motivates AIPAC and causes so many Americans to act more Jewish than Jews in Israel (like him):
There is something that I felt while I am here in America, that most of the majority of the Jewish population here are cherishing Israel…
They don’t understand that we are going towards an apartheid country. By not criticizing it, by accepting everything Israel does politically and especially towards the conflict, they are damaging their own goal, to protect the state of Israel as a safe haven for them.
(Huffington Post January 29, 2013)
Now that’s an internecine fight I dare not get in the middle of. Thankfully, after that quote, all that’s left for me to add is, Amen!