February 19, 2003


Toxic Talk on War (Lawrence F. Kaplan, February 18, 2003, Washington Post)
From the musty precincts of the Old Right, the contention that Israel and a powerful "cabal" of its American supporters have manufactured the present crisis with Iraq has become canonical. Buchanan, who writes that President Bush has become a client of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the "neoconservative war party," has transformed his new magazine, the American Conservative, into a regular forum for those who share this conviction. One of its contributors, University of Illinois history professor Paul W. Schroeder, deems it self-evident that the plan for an invasion "is being promoted in the interests of Israel."

"Certainly it is being pushed very hard by a number of influential supporters of Israel of the hawkish neoconservative stripe in and outside the administration (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and others)," Schroeder writes.

Seconding this appraisal, conservative writer Georgie Anne Geyer, whose column appears weekly in the Washington Times, reveals how "the fanatic neoconservatives around the administration, the rabid Israel supporters in the White House and the Pentagon," plan to wage war in Iraq and then to "democratize the entire Middle East, including Syria and Saudi Arabia, if necessary by military means, in order to secure Ariel Sharon's Israel."

Meanwhile on the left -- where many cannot fathom why, absent the urging of Israelis and their American co-religionists, the Bush administration would be so eager to topple Saddam Hussein -- the socialism of fools has been enjoying something of a vogue. Writing in the Nation, Jason Vest reports that the Bush team's "attack-Iraq chorus," working in tandem with "far-right American Zionists," subscribes to "articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between U.S. and Israeli national security interests." The respected liberal intellectual Ian Buruma has managed to locate the reasons for a U.S. war against Iraq in, among other places, "Jewish-American hysteria" and the fact that "macho images of suntanned Jewish soldiers gathered round laughing tough guys such as Ariel Sharon wiped out, as it were, 2,000 years of being Woody Allen."

Nor is this sort of fare the exclusive property of the political fringe. The ubiquitous talk-show host Chris Matthews pins blame for the impending war on "conservative people out there, some of them Jewish, who are very tough on foreign policy. They believe we should fight the Arabs and take them down. They believe that if we don't fight Iraq, Israel will be in danger." Matthews even thinks that Sharon is "writing [Bush's] speeches sometimes" and that Sharon's cabinet ministers are "in bed with the vice president's office and the Defense Department." Syndicated columnist Robert Novak has described the U.S conflict with Iraq as "Sharon's war," adding that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's branding of Hezbollah as the world's most dangerous terrorist organization suggests that "the U.S. war against terrorism, accused of being Iraq-centric, actually is Israel-centric." Twice in
recent speeches, former senator Gary Hart has said that we "must not let our role in the world be dictated by Americans who too often find it hard to distinguish their loyalties to their original homelands from their loyalties to America and its national interests."

One interesting offshoot of this, though it's necessarily anecdotal, is that many Jews oppose the war precisely because it stirs up anti-Semitism. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2003 3:13 PM

The first Gulf War should have given the lie to much of the garbage that is being currently spewed.

That it has not should be worrisome for a variety of reasons.

Clearly, the "patriots" will not let up, as they are pursuing a higher agenda.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 20, 2003 1:19 AM


I don't think they really are--it's mostly just frustrated middle-aged white guys who don't like the way the world is headed and seek to blame someone. The Jews are always the convenient target for such anger.

Posted by: oj at February 20, 2003 9:01 AM

Is Hizballah really dangerous to anybody except Israel?

Fill me in.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 20, 2003 9:10 AM

Ali, there's about 300 hundred American dead in Beirut in 1983-84;

plus about 50 Argentines in 1992-

1994; that say different.

Posted by: narciso at February 20, 2003 10:56 AM


Sorry, I don't agree with that. I believe the thing is a lot more insidious and a lot more prevalent than you think, to the point where people's perceptions are "thrown off balance" by the sheer onslaught, and policy has to be seen to be "balanced" rather than correct. It may depend on the area/country as well; and in some places there may even be a backlash, given the nature of the stuff, I suppose. Nonetheless, I would hope you're right and I'm wrong....

As far as Hizbullah goes, they present a risk to the people of Lebanon and Syria if they attack Israel or persist in the threat. If they do decide to attack, they had better make sure it's a debilitating blow.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 20, 2003 12:43 PM