I. Right vs. Left. 1. Following Israel's refusal to let the Gaza flotilla pass through its blockade, there was, as usual, worldwide condemnation of Israel. The New York Times had this to say: "It has damaged Israel's ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the muslim world..." (From their 6/2/10 Editorial.) If the editorial writers actually spent some of their time READING the news (or this blog) they would know that Turkey has been moving away from the West and towards the Iranian bloc since Erdogan and his islamist party came to power in 2002. What kind of ally has Turkey shown itself to be to Israel when IT sponsored the flotilla that had the sole purpose of breaking Israel's blockade, which is in effect to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza? What kind of ally is Turkey, when Erdogan was the first world leader to host the terrorist leaders of Hamas, a group sworn to Israel's destruction? What kind of ally spews venom through its media outlets describing the US and Israel as "demonic, murderous nations that kill innocent people for entertainment." (From Caroline Glick, 6/4/10 Jerusalem Post online.)
If it was a humanitarian mission, the flotilla would have docked at Ashdod as instructed and allowed themselves to be inspected and accepted Israel's offer to offload the food and other legitimate supplies for delivery to Gaza. But they refused. The NY Times went on: "This is a grievous self-inflicted wound." Contrast their view with the Investor's Business Daily: "Israel really had no choice but to respond to the clear provocation of the phony Turkish "peace flotilla"...filled with terrorist-linked Islamist and extremist left groups, bonded by their fanatical hatred of Israel." (From the 6/2/10 Editorial.) The IBD went on: "It's obvious that Turkey, a NATO member...is no longer in any meaningful sense an ally of the West." They note that in 2003 Turkey denied access to US troops for the Iraq invasion. And since this editorial, Turkey was one of only two members of the UN Security Council to vote against sanctions for Iran. (Brazil was the other and Lebanon abstained.)
2. In the last two issues of the LA Jewish Journal there has been a give and take between Dennis Prager and a Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, of Pasadena. Prager had used a piece by the Rabbi to explain leftist thinking. The Rabbi then replied, and said: "I believe in diplomacy over warfare." He also added this incredible gem: "War should always be a last resort, and I admit that I am somewhat ambivalent about even that choice. Addressing the root causes of social injustice - such as poverty, hunger and fear - is usually a more effective weapon for combating evil than a gun or a missile." Of course war should be a last resort, but I am almost at a loss for words as to the rest of his comment. (Okay, not really; do you know me?) First, the left has to make excuses for evil; here, it's "poverty, hunger and fear." Amazing how poor people do not have the ability to be decent human beings and distinguish right from wrong! A typically elitist and leftist attitude. Second, the Rabbi's views are emblematic of the continuing refusal/inability by the left to acknowledge that evil exists, and that - on a societal level - such evil is usually motivated by an ideology.
Prager replied as follows: "Diplomacy to stop evil? Please. This is another example of the make-believe world of the left I described. Diplomacy did nothing for 2 million Cambodians, the Congolese (6 million killed in the last 10 years while the world's diplomats were busy condemning Israel), the Tutsis in Rwanda, the North Koreans, the 75 million Chinese under Mao, the 30 to 40 million under Stalin, or the tens of millions slaughtered by the Nazis (in large measure because of European "ambivalence" about war)." It is astounding to this writer that an American Rabbi can not understand that it was the sacrifices made by American soldiers - in war - that helped to liberate the Nazi concentration camps.
3. Iranian sanctions. The UN Security Council, as noted above, did pass another set of sanctions against Iran. Having predicted it would not happen in my last blog, this writer stands corrected. However, the sanctions had to be watered down to ensure passage. Putin had indicated he did not want "excessive" measures that might cause "hardship" in Iran. (Per the 6/10/10 JPost online Editorial.) And it bears noting that Bush, the "warmonger," managed to get through three sets of sanctions during his term, without a single dissenting vote; while Obama, the "diplomat" (appeaser?) got only 12 of 15 votes for his resolution. (Per Charles Krauthammer in the 6/11/10 IBD.) And whose votes did he lose? Turkey and Brazil, supposedly two of our close allies. Obama, as a leftist, wants the world to love him and the USA. As Dennis Prager notes in the June, 2010 issue of "Commentary,": "A fundamental characteristic of the left is a desire that America be loved, or at least liked, by the world. That is far more important than being strong..." Maybe, just maybe, it is better when other countries fear us and perhaps have respect for the United States; but that would be thinking like George Bush. And Teddy Roosevelt. And FDR. And Jack Kennedy.
4. In the June 11-17, 2010 edition of the LA Jewish Journal is a discussion by two writers (right and left)of what role US Jews should play vis-a-vis Israel. One view is expressed by UCLA Professor David Myers. He bemoans what he perceives as a movement by American Jews having fallen into lockstep with the government of Israel and their policies. He is concerned that Israel and its supporters have lost their "moral and political bearing." He is concerned that Jews minimize palestinian suffering. And he believes that "fear pervades the Jewish community today." That Jews think we are back in 1939. (Has he read my blog?)
In reply, one David Suissa (founder of Olam magazine and columnist for the Journal) notes that the Arab press in Israel is the freest in the Middle East. Arab members of the Knesset (Parliament) have visited Israel's enemies, and some have called for Israeli Arabs to side with the palestinians in any armed struggle. Suissa notes that aside from all the criticism of Israel from the Arab/Muslim world, and the Europeans, and the UN, and even the US, there are plenty of anti-Israel Jewish groups such as J Street, the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the New Israel Fund. But if some Jews do not engage in Israel bashing maybe it's because "they're too busy trying to push back against the onslaught of hypocritical and disproportionate global criticism that is poured almost daily onto the Jewish state."
The professor, however, does not see things that way. (Like Obama, a professor may be filled with information but not understanding or common sense or wisdom.) He is concerned about what he calls "unholy alliances that Jews forge with putative friends outside of the Jewish world who have their own theological motives for supporting obstructionist policies in Israel." First, my apologies for the professor's comment about "unholy alliances" to my Christian friends who are strong supporters of Israel. Second, he imputes bad motives to those non-Jews who support Israel. Maybe, professor, some non-Jewish supporters of Israel see Israel as a democracy with shared values, and have an understanding and appreciation of the Jewish origins of their own religion, and have an admiration for what such a tiny country has been able to accomplish, surrounded on all sides by people who want them dead. But let us assume you are right, professor, and that all Christians who support Israel do so because it will hasten Armaggeddon and the return of Jesus? So what? Israel has precious few friends in the world. Whatever beliefs you think these Christian supporters have, they are doing no harm! They are not blowing up buildings, they are not blowing up innocents on buses and in cafes; and they are not picking up guns and shooting "infidels" like one Major Hassan did. In case you did not notice, that would be the muslims.
II. Why does the US need Israel as an ally anyway? This notion was given prominence by the book "The Israel Lobby" by professors Walt and Mearshimer. Now, one Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. put out an article describing Israel as a "strategic liability." Caroline Glick, in the 6/7/10 JPost online, begs to differ. She believes that Israel has been the greatest strategic ally for the US.
She notes that in arab/muslim countries, their allegiance to the US may vary with the leader in office. Witness the change from the Shah to the Ayatollahs; and most recently, secular Turkey shifting alliances under the islamist leader Erdogan. Not so with Israel, which shares the same democratic values. Yes, there are differences when it comes to Israeli security; described as differences between "friends." As Ms.Glick points out, no Israeli leader could "sway the Israeli people away from America." You will never see Israelis (not Jewish ones anyway) saying "death to America" or referring to the US as the "Great Satan."
After 9/11 hit, she notes that US military and intelligence officials said Israeli intelligence was "worth its weight in gold for US operations in the Middle East and around the world." She states that pilotless aircraft (drones) used extensively by the US in Pakistan and Afghanistan were originally developed by Israel.
She makes a point that is obvious to those of us on the right: that "Israel is on the front line against America's enemies." The people who hate Israel hate the USA. (Even if the Obama Administration does not understand this.) Israel fights these battles and never asks for American troops to get involved.
She argues that in June, 1982, when Israel took out Syria's Soviet made anti-aircraft batteries (with US made planes), it was a demonstration of the "superiority" of US military technology and hardware over Russia's; perhaps convincing Reagan that we could win the Cold War.
The stronger Israel is, the more US interests in the region are protected. Just like US strength in the world has allowed for a certain level of stability, Israeli strength has done the same for US interests in the Middle East. Israel took out Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, preventing Iraq from becoming a nuclear power. If an unstable regime like Iraq had nukes in 1991, would Bush I have invaded and liberated Kuwait? If not, what would have happened to the flow of oil?
Israel's nukes (an open secret) have been a stabilizing force in the Mideast. Others understood Israel had them for defensive purposes only. But Glick points out that with Iran about to have nukes, we are seeing the beginning of an arms race in which many countries in the region now feel a need to get them: Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, among others.
As Obama has pulled back from supporting allies like Israel, it has encouraged more radical elements to move forward. These elements see there is no point in moderating their positions, as the US will reach out to them regardless.
So who needs Israel as an ally? The American people overwhelming believe we do. (Although I would point out that far more republicans than democrats believe this.) I am waiting to see if the Obama Aministration comes to the same realization.