March 03, 2004

Israel Frenzy

William F. Buckley on neocon policies and Israel:

It is being claimed, ever more widely, that neocon policies are determined by the advantages they bring, manifest or putative, to the State of Israel. Patrick Buchanan, in the current American Conservative, believes this ardently, while the most quoted advocates of neocon militancy, Richard Perle and David Frum, go further than merely to deny that neoconservatism is an Israel First world view. They insist that criticism of neocon policies is, at heart, anti-Semitic.

(...)

Nobody who knows his way around questions the political leverage of the Jewish vote in critical states or denies the importance of Jewish patronage of favored candidates and office holders.

But the transposition of this into the position that U.S. policies are formulated because they bear directly on Israeli interests is invention. The proposal to go to war against Iraq was, concertedly, advocated in one form or another by Richard Perle. But that policy proceeded from the loins of Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, and was animated by the reiterated U.S. interest in the stability of the Near East. The Bush administration arrived at the conviction that the sepsis of which the 9/11 attack was a single, lethal thrust was a variant of the Islamic fundamentalism that had taken over the country of Afghanistan and almost certainly was festering in Iraq. Which was governed by a totalist dictator who had already used weapons of mass destruction and was accumulating an inventory for strikes against his neighbors and nations of the west.

(...)

The neocon movement, it is being suggested, is motivated by concern for Israel but, more, by its affinity for the Likud Party of General Sharon, which represents militant and, many believe, shortsighted policies, contrasting with policies advocated by many Israelis, including past Israeli leaders, Ehud Barak prominent among them.

It's an unreasonable polarization of opinion: 1) everything a neocon advocates is animated by a concern for Israel, and, 2) every criticism of neocon policy is animated by anti-Semitism. That is straitened thought, and should be resisted.