Over a century ago, Mark Twain concluded, "the very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice". Indeed, every generation
views history through its own tinted lens. And the ‘received wisdom’ of one era can appear antiquated–even morally unsound–to another. Penetrating the fog of history demands the test of time. But even this method can be
compromised, since the war for ideological supremacy is often won, literally, on the battlefield. History is written by the victors.
For the bulk of humanity, political values and religious beliefs are an accident of birth. Is the modern, cosmopolitan mind really so different? Or
is cultural indoctrination merely explained away as education? How fortunate, it is, that America enjoys an unfettered ‘marketplace of ideas’
and that our press is free. But as A.J. Liebling observed, "the press is free to those who own one".
Indeed, the past 20 years has seen an astounding consolidation of media franchise. Today, fewer than ten transnational media conglomerates effectively administer the information needs for the bulk of the
English-speaking world, as the major institutions of political analysis fall into fewer and fewer hands. Big Media increasingly overlords political
Larger and fewer corporations hire and fire the elite class of pundits and
editors who frame the international discussion. These gatekeepers define
history, concoct its vital lessons, and disseminate meaning. Great
narratives emerge, often with the help of great myths.
French philosopher Paul Valery reminds us however, "history justifies
whatever we want it to. It teaches absolutely nothing, for it contains
everything and it gives examples of everything." Indeed, the lessons of
history are often assertions by The Few, providing guidance for The Many.
Consider the bewilderment expressed by most European allies at America’s
mind-numbing inconsistencies. On the one hand, U.S. courts lead the world in
upholding the rights of minorities, separating religious dogma from
government decree, and in forging a secular, multicultural democracy with
equal protection before the law for all. These legal principles will surely
stand the test of time. With the global spread of democratic values and the
rise of American political dominance on a similar scale, there is the
growing expectation that our nation provide a kind of ‘equal protection’ to
all its subjects; that the U.S. apply legal standards and political
safeguards for all nations in equal measure. This hope however is being
dashed in the Middle East. There, America has institutionalized political
The case in point is the ‘special relationship’ between the U.S. and the
state of Israel, though ‘relationship’ fails to convey the magnitude of this
extraordinary affair. Indeed, since Israel captured Arab territory in the
1967 Six Day War, the U.S. alliance with Israel has become a political
phenomena without equal. For the past 30 years, there have been endless
streams of Congressional delegations to Israel, U.S.-sponsored treaties and
initiatives; along with even greater quantities of foreign aid, diplomatic
arm twisting, and raw military power. All in service to a geographically
tiny nation sitting thousands of miles from American soil.
Decades of unconditional aid to Israel have produced a burning resentment in
the Arab world. Indeed, the U.S. punishes our Arab trading partners–both
economically and militarily–for actions which Israel commits routinely. In
the Middle East, it is Israel alone that maintains both a nuclear stockpile
and lesser weapons of mass destruction. This salient fact breezes past most
of the elite American authorities in their discussions about the origins of
terror or how to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. The plain fact is
that Israel’s nuclear capabilities have fueled a regional arms race.
Even more destabilizing is Israel’s unique, historical mission: to create a
Jewish country in a territory already occupied by over a million non-Jews.
The perception that Israel (with American complicity) formally and
purposefully discriminates against these indigenous people is what has given
us the suicide bomber. In Western parlance this phenomena of resistance is
called ‘terrorism’. Conventional wisdom explains that terrorists are
motivated by a primitive rejection of Modernism. Often the syndrome is
pigeonholed as "Islamo-fascism", and viewed as a kind of incurable,
political virus. The recommended ‘treatment’ is quarantine, suppression or outright eradication. But world opinion is turning against this one-sided view.
Following 9/11, the familiar chime became, "Why do they hate us?" President
Bush explained, "it’s because of our freedoms…our way of life". But if
that were so, then why don’t these terrorists target other Western cities
like Tokyo, Paris, Toronto or Rome? Subsequent speech writers have had
President Bush allege that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction,
posed an imminent threat to the region and had significant links to Al
Queda. All these allegations proved false.
Significantly, over the past thirty years, the (regional) enemies of
(Zionist) Israel have become the global enemies of (secular) America. This
may suit the long-term military needs of the Jewish State, but what about
the damage done to America’s economy, security and reputation? Is there no
cost we should be unwilling to pay? In fact, the case can be made that the
very hostilities between American and the Arab world is the byproduct of
U.S.-subsidized political discrimination at the hands of Israel.
As the world’s greatest consumers of oil, we Americans have vital and mutual
economic ties with energy producers. These oil exporters, many of them Arab,
are similarly dependent on U.S. consumption for their economic health.
Herein lie the clear motives for sustained, mutual cooperation. But instead
of symbiosis, we find enmity. The spoiler in this equation are the political
aspirations and security demands of the Jewish state, which have trumped
U.S. economic interests for more than a generation. Israel’s advocates have
successfully leveraged American power to wage war against the very nations
which supply us with oil.
As America wages war on Iraq, neoconservative strategists are planning to
‘reform’ the entire Arab world, largely to make the region safe for an
expanding Jewish state, since Israel seems determined to hold onto, if not
increase, the Arab land it captured in 1967. The blunt surgical instrument
is military force. Follow up procedures will include American money,
weponry, investment, media spin and diplomatic pressure. The ‘end game’ is
to crush Arab resistance to Zionist and American hegemony. In the meantime,
the U.S. is playing a pivotal role in a military campaign that’s producing a
political and humanitarian nightmare.
In the Palestinian Territories, Israel leads the democratic world in
extra-judicial assassinations, collective punishment and state-sponsored,
ethnic discrimination. Living conditions and political freedoms have
plummeted there while unemployment, injury and disease have skyrocketed.
Home demolitions are routine, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless.
Though contrary to international law and the Geneva Convention, this policy
has been upheld by Israeli courts. Notwithstanding the Arab ‘suicide
bomber’, the kill-ratio favors Jews over Palestinians by a ration exceeding
Latest reports indicate that some 22% of Palestinian children are (now)
malnourished and that the average Palestinian family survives on
approximately $2 per day. While these economic circumstances are no worse
than Bangladesh or many drought-stricken regions in sub-Saharan Africa,
there’s a key difference. Palestine’s three-fold increase in measurable
deprivations has been ‘achieved’ not by drought, flood or bad economic
planning, but by Israeli design. The relative serenity of pre-Zionist
Palestine has been replaced by living conditions resembling a food-starved,
open-air prison, complete with checkpoints and curfews. To be Palestinian
under Israeli occupation is to know the meaning of terror.
How did we get here? U.S. policies have granted special favor to the Jewish
state for over a generation. The peculiar uniqueness of the ‘special
relationship’ between American and Israel first burst on the scene during
Israel’s 1967 ‘Six Day War’. On June 8th, Israeli plans strafed and bombed
the American ship, USS Liberty, in international waters, killing 34 U.S.
servicemen and wounding 171. No Israeli has ever been held accountable for
this act of war. Both American and Israeli governments continue to maintain
a shroud of secrecy over the incident. So began the special relationship.
In the aftermath of Israel’s victorious 1973 ‘Yom Kippur War’ (where Arab
armies attacked Isreal) former Senator J. William Fulbright (D-AK) said
flatly, "Israel controls the (U.S.) senate". For that sin of indiscretion,
the former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee soon found himself
out of office. His remarks have since been airbrushed from political memory.
By 1975, President Ford was threatening to "reappraise" U.S. relations with
the Zionist state. But the pro-Israel lobby rose to the occasion, lining up
71 U.S. senators who signed a letter formally demanding The President to
back off, which he did. Ford later lost his bid for re-election. Similarly,
the first President George Bush, who was also viewed as ‘unreliable’ by
pro-Israel partisans, failed in his bid for re-election. In the intervening
years, countless other voices have have been expunged from public life for
violating Israeli-related taboos. This has not gone unnoticed by America’s
ruling class. And today, with the triumph of neoconservative dogma and the
rise of Christian Zionism, the friends of Israel have secured an even
greater presence in Washington.
Consequently, over the past generation, the Jewish state has received more
U.S. assistance than all of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and Central
and South America combined. Official figures put the transfer of American
money to Israel at about 100 billion, but one analyst calculates that
additional, indirect costs associated with the special relationship have
cost the U.S. a whopping 1.6 trillion. That, according to Washington, D.C.
economic analyst, Thomas Stauffer who, in the Christian Science Monitor
(12/10/02), concluded that America’s defense of Israel has cost the U.S.
twice what we spent on the Viet Nam war. Though widely reported on the
internet, Big Media shunned this meticulous, though provocative, analysis.
Let it be said the next largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid is Egypt (an
Arab country). But this autocratic state only began receiving its annual,
multi-billion dollar stipend after signing the 1979 Camp David Accords; a
deal which established a formal ‘peace’ between Egypt and Israel, but left
the Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians and Palestinians out in the cold. The
‘Arab Street’, including most Egyptians, view this historic treaty with
Clearly, if not for U.S. diplomatic cover, Israel would be isolated, and its
international status downgraded. Incredibly (and typically), mainstream
media makes little mention of the fact that this ‘rogue democracy’ stands in
defiance of 68 UN resolutions, a world record. Iraq, by contrast, has
spurned a total of 16 resolutions.
Indeed, Israel’s very status as a ‘democracy’ is increasingly under fire,
since the Jewish state’s commitment to ethnic and religious segregation, as
well as laws which discriminate against non-Jews, leaves it isolated in an
increasingly pluralistic and integrated world. The mainstream media’s
omission of these compelling facts belie their significance. Indeed, the
influence of this ethnic lobby permeates America’s intellectual culture.
Even the vast majority of best-selling commentators are not immune.
Conservative firebrands like like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bernard
Goldberg and Bill O’Reilly–the very people who detect "media bias" under
every rock–carefully avoid criticizing Israel’s unique status. In similar
fashion, the left wing anti-war movement of the 60’s and early 70’s never
made a peep about the Jewish state’s pre-emptive strike against the Arabs in
the 1967 Six Day War, or America’s decisive intervention on behalf of Israel
in it’s 1973 war. That, despite the ensuing Arab oil embargo which sent our
nation into recession, costing our economy untold billions.
True to form, America recently spared the Jewish state from formal UN
censure when their plan to kill Palestinian President Yassir Arafat became
known. Israel’s controversial ‘security fence’ (a wall twice as high and
four times longer than the Berlin Wall) is also being protected in the UN by
American wrangling, as was Israel’s recent bombing mission in Syria. U.S.
decrees excusing Israel often stand alone. Is the problem global
anti-Semitism, or American acquiescence before Israeli resolve?
To much of the world, Israel’s sweetheart deal with the American taxpayer is
evidence that Democracy is no barrier to corruption. Millions view the
U.S.-Israeli ‘special relationship’ as a manipulative euphemism for
‘preferential treatment’. Empire America has assigned Arabs an inferior
status on the world stage.
As the lone, global superpower, America now enjoys unique privileges. We’ve
become a kind of roving ‘super-judiciary’, enforcing and ignoring
international laws at will. In the case of the U.S.-lead war on Iraq, most
of the UN Security Council and virtually all the member nations of that
world body opposed our pre-emptive strike. But the Bush Administration moved
forward anyway, with impunity. The checks and balances designed to inhibit
government excess here at home do not readily protect the peoples outside
our borders. As such, America is increasingly viewed as a ‘loose canon’, if
not an arrogant bully.
U.S. saber-rattling has put the entire Arab world on notice. Many leftists
cling to the idea that U.S. bellicosity is centered around oil and,
presumably, secret plans to expropriate it. If that were so, the U.S. would
surely behave most fiercely towards Saudi Arabia, holder of the world’s
greatest oil reserves. But instead, the U.S. is applying greater pressure to
Iran and Arab states which border Israel, like Syria, Lebanon and, to a
lesser extent, Jordan, none of which produce any oil at all. In fact, the
much-ballyhooed "No Blood for Oil" theory was advanced and tested in the
1991 Gulf War. What happened? America lead international forces into Iraq,
pulverized Hussein’s overrated army, liberated Kuwait for the sheiks, and
left all the oil behind. The big winner was Israel, who had American forces
lead an international brigade against its chief rival in the Arab world.
Were contemporary America a rational, self-interested democracy, all foreign
entanglements–even traditional alliances–would be on the table well before
experiencing decades of political failure. But certain U.S. options in the
Middle East remain ‘non-starters’. Why is this? In Oct., 2001, an Israeli
radio station reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a moment of
pique towards his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, bellowed, "Don’t worry
about American pressure (on Israel). We (the Jewish People) control America,
and Americans know it". Hyperbole aside, the Prime Minister revealed that
even the darkest suspicions about the U.S.-Israeli alliance are not without
some merit. That this outrageous remark failed to see the light of day
anywhere outside of Israel or on the internet is of great concern to those
devoted to free speech, national sovereignty and intellectual freedom.
If that alleged quote sounds unbelievable, please recall another humiliating
spectacle which was widely observed. In April, 2002, when the
(Israeli-Palestinian) "Road Map to Peace" still had a pulse, President Bush
ordered the Israeli Prime Minister to get (Israelis) "out of the West
Bank…without delay". Sharon responded by neither removing the settlers,
making excuses, or offering to compromise. Settlement building continued and
U.S. aid never slacked. Is there a word for this? Soon thereafter there was
yet another suicide bombing in Israel, and Sharon ordered the invasion of
the Palestinian city of Jenin. The assault there left scores of Palestinians
dead and thousands homeless. President Bush followed up by denouncing
Palestinian terrorism and calling the Israeli leader a "man of peace". This
head-spinning scenario underscores the sad political fact that every
American administration is duty-bound to line up behind every Israeli
administration. End of story.
Indeed, the contrived romance between secular, multicultural America and
Jewish Israel has taken on the aura of an ‘arranged marriage’, with divorce
not being an option. But there are additional ironies, too. If the special
relationship between our countries is indeed genuine, why are we Americans
hammered daily about anti-Semitism, The Holocaust (as if there are no
others) and ubiquitous images of Jewish suffering? Here we enter the realm
of myth and manipulation.
Author, scholar and Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel, says that anti-Semitism is
an "irrational disease" that remains just as "virulent" and resilient as it
was in previous centuries. In a keynote speech before the Anti-Defamation
League’s Conference on Global Anti-Semitism in 2002, the famous Holocaust
survivor explained that, "hatred is very strange because it has a face, and
it has a setting, and it is not limited to frontiers. It has no culture or
boundaries," he said. "It is more than one country. The anti-Semite hates
people who have not been born yet, which means that anti-Semitism is not
linked to something a person has done or will do. It is a sickness. There is
mental sickness and there is moral sickness, and an anti-Semite is morally
sick. He is sick because he lives in a delusion."
Wiesel’s overview of anti-Semitism however may itself be itself a kind of
delusion, given its self-serving simplicity. He has reduced the complex,
cryptic interplay of centuries-long, inter-group competition to one,
all-encompassing idea. Is there no ‘yin and yang’ to this story?
The message to Americans is clear. Resist ‘bad’ thoughts about Israel. Don’t
speak out. And do not draw, or act upon, conclusions which could imperil the
sanctity of the Israeli-American alliance. When public opinion goes the
other way, experts are summoned to reverse the presumably irrational "rise
in anti-Semitism", treating it as if it were disease. Assuming a tone and
employing jargon normally reserved for physicians, designated political
authorities ‘diagnose treatment’ for combating these "virulent strains" (of
public opinion) which "have no proper place" in American society. Discussion
The ever-present ghoul in this scenario is the genocidal, fire-breathing
demon commonly identified as The Anti-Semite. As the human embodiment of
pure evil, this archetype serves to remind the world of the ever-present,
terrible tendencies found within the gentile soul. Congressman Henry Waxman
(D-CA) provides the false, ironic summary: "The intrinsic bond between the American and Israeli people has never been more evident".
The ‘post-Holocaust’ milieu enables the allegation of anti-Semitism to
de-legitimize resistance to Zionism. This is no accident. Widespread media
imagery has succeeded in linking harsh criticism of Israel to racial
intolerance. ‘Anti-Semitism’s’ fuzzy definition provides the unique underpinnings. Decades of news spin and propaganda planted in entertainment media have created a particular moral tapestry. Merge this with continuous images of Hitler, concentration camps, Klan rallies and the like, and you have a subconscious morality play running in the minds of television viewers everywhere.
Once this mindset is formed, a political dispute involving ‘something Jewish’ can be maneuvered away from the point of contention to the (dark, hidden) motives of those in opposition. Anti-Semitism has become the Scarlet Letter of American politics. Careers in public life can be ruined by the very accusation. No other ethnic group enjoys comparable protection. The final irony is that within Israel, Zionist doctrine inherently condones discrimination against all non-Jews.
Adding to these layers of subterfuge is the misapplication of the very term itself, since ‘anti-Semitism’ is a kind of misnomer. Granted, anti-Semites may hate Jews (and are similarly hated by them) but the ‘Semite-ness’ of the Jews (their ethnic, ‘Semitic’ profile) is often incidental to the conflict. Many identified anti-Semites are more Semitic than the Jews they allegedly despise! The complaints of these vilified outcasts invariably concern Jewish ethnocentrism and Jewish abuse of power. Contrary to popular belief, many anti-Semites feel themselves victimized and oppressed by Jews. Just ask the Semitic people of Palestine.
In truth, most ‘anti-Semitic’ operatives simply oppose international Zionism and its multifaceted permutations. So why not properly label anti-Semites as ‘anti-Zionist’ or ‘anti-Jewish’–which more accurately describes their motivating animus? The reason is simple. A different term might add an unwanted layer of complexity to the Official Narrative. The greatest myth of ‘anti-Semitism’ is that it has nothing to do with Jewish conduct. Indeed, when Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, recently alleged that "Jews run the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them", his now-infamous assertion was either ignored, or immediately denounced and dismissed. Without elaboration, Pres. Bush scornfully called the Prime Minister’s remarks "divisive and wrong". True to form, the President didn’t explain why. All that was clear was that the Malaysian Prime Minister committed the modern sin of ‘anti-Semitism’.
It doesn’t matter, apparently, that Prime Minister Mohamad was offering an informed political analysis. It doesn’t matter that he received a standing ovation for his remarks, that he speaks for, and understands the viewpoint of, tens of millions of Muslims worldwide. All that mattered was that his remarks offended Jews.
Can we talk? No.
Instead of confronting and dealing with the points of his argument, the usual experts bombarded the Prime Minister with ad hominem mud. Following that, the issues he raised were shelved. The question became instead: does he or does he not have an unacceptably ‘bad attitude’ about Israel? Case closed.
Here in the Land of the Free, tales of inter-group conflict involving the Chosen People are to be described in moral shades of black and white; thus, the allegation of ‘anti-Semitism’ is designed for one purpose: to separate the bad actors from the good, and to bring a quick, simple close to complex disputes. This is not to imply that anti-Semitism (so-called) is contrived. No doubt, Jews have been sporadically victimized and persecuted for centuries, with horrific results. But the story is more complicated and the moral dimensions are surely more nuanced than found within the Official Story.
The rising tension between historic myth and political excess are producing cracks in the facade of international order. America’s moral posture has been co-opted, and with that, our national sovereignty. In an effort to further the imperial interests of a foreign power, Israel’s gifted advocates have bypassed America’s customary checks and balances. This endangers America and the entire world.