Israel’s Bitter Anti-Iran Fight

Israeli leaders put on a full-court press to coerce U.S. lawmakers to line up behind Prime Minister Netanyahu instead of President Obama on the Iran nuclear deal. The Israel ploy appears to not only have failed but to have exposed deep divisions in the Jewish community, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

The insistence that Israel is somehow the national embodiment of the Jewish people has always been dangerous. This is so because it tied a diverse group spread over the globe to the apron strings of a single political entity and its ideology (Zionism). Thus identified, the Jews were allegedly what a bunch of Zionist ideologues said they were — and were also supposedly exemplified by the consistently unsavory practices of the Israeli state.

The Zionists tried to force the Jews into this Procrustean bed through the monopolization of elite Jewish organizations and the emotional blackmail of those who might have dissenting views. The mantra here was that if a Jewish person had disagreements with Israel, he or she should express them behind closed doors and never in public.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

Behind closed doors the dissenter could be contained. However, if he or she went public with their differences, they undercut the myth of Jewish community solidarity with Israel. To go public in this fashion was a mortal sin, and one risked being shamed within one’s community. Those who persisted were labeled “self-hating” traitors.

It is a long-standing effort at censorship. Some people might get upset with those who publicly accuse Charles Schumer of having  dual loyalties involving Israel, but no one seemed to get equally upset with those Zionists who have accused thousands of Jews worldwide of being “self-haters” because they publicly came out against Israel’s atrocious treatment of the Palestinians.

On “Verge of Fratricide”

It was inevitable that the Zionist requirement of public silence would get harder to enforce the more outrageous the behavior of Israel’s political leadership became.

On the American scene, the combination of the brazen intrusion of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into U.S. politics (particularly his March 3, 2015 address to Congress) and the warmongering position on Iran taken by Jewish organizations openly allied to Israel seems to have been the tipping point. The combined adamance of this Zionist front has forced American Jewish members of Congress to make a choice, and do so publicly. Those who have chosen, against the wishes of the Israeli government, to support the Iran nuclear agreement as reflecting the long-term interests of the United States (and Israel) are now treated to the same degree of defamation as those Jews called “self-haters.”

A national window on what Greg Rosenbaum, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, calls “the verge of fratricide in the Jewish community” was opened by a front-page article in the Aug. 29 issue of the New York Times, entitled “Debate on Iran Fiercely Splits American Jews.”

The Times’ main example of this near-fratricidal behavior is the case of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, who, like the state’s senior senator, Charles Schumer, has spent his entire political career supporting Israel. The only difference between the two is that unlike Schumer, Nadler has come out in support of the Iran agreement. But that is all it took to make him a target.

According to an interview with Nadler in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and reprinted in the Aug. 25 edition of the Forward, the New York representative was hit by “vociferous attacks” labeling him a “traitor,” one who wants to “abandon the Jewish people.” According to the Times’ piece, he has also been called a Kapo (the name given to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis), and a “facilitator of Obama’s Holocaust.”

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Zionist stalwart, has sworn to work for Nadler’s defeat come the representative’s next primary election and has been harassing him in various ways ever since he announced his support for the Iran deal.

This sort of thing has been going on across the nation where American Jewry interfaces with national politics. It is interesting that the one who is trying to bring civility back into this internecine debate is a Gentile: Barack Obama.

Again, according to the Times’ article, Obama, speaking on “a webcast for major Jewish organizations,” called the treatment of Nadler “appalling” and then, ignoring a fast unraveling political status quo, said “we’re all pro-Israel, and we’re family.” Nonetheless, he concluded that “It’s better to air these things out even if it is uncomfortable, as long as the tone is civil.” Alas, President Obama sounds like a marriage counselor who comes too late to the party.

Persistent Incivility

The truth is that the tone of the edicts coming out of Israel both past and present, and then transmitted by elite Jewish-Zionist organizations down the line to the synagogues and community centers in the United States, has never been civil. Israel’s self-righteous position has always been that it has an unquestionable right to tell American Jewry when to support or not support their own (that is U.S.) national interests.

And if you don’t follow the Israeli lead, you will be accused of betraying “your people.” This persistent incivility has just been below the U.S.’s public radar until now. We can all thank Netanyahu and his Likudniks for the fact that that is no longer the case.

So what does this mean for the future of U.S.- Israeli relations? Well, according to the Times, some are predicting “long-term damage to Jewish organizations and possibly to American-Israeli relations.” One thing is for sure, the abrasive Zionist modus operandi will not change. It is built in to the historical character of both their ideology and Israeli culture.

The real questions lie on the American side of the equation. For instance, will American politicians who have belatedly become uneasy with Israeli behavior come to understand that what they face is a fundamental difference in worldview?

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of JStreet, in a rare moment of clarity, was cited in the Times’ article as having spoken of “a fundamental break between Democratic Party leaders inclined toward diplomacy and the worldview of a conservative Israeli government which has more in common with Dick Cheney.” Ben-Ami is surely correct here, even though he shortsightedly confines the problem to the current Israeli government.

A corresponding question is will American Jews who disagree with Israeli policies come to realize that this is more than a family squabble? It is a fundamental break between those who favor humanitarian values and sensible diplomacy, and those who favor the ways of war and ethno-religious discrimination.

In truth, American Jews who support civil and human rights have no more in common with Israel and its culture than they do with xenophobic fanatics of the Republican Right. They just have to accept that fact and, on the basis of that awareness, take a public stand.

It is probably accurate to describe current events as doing lasting damage to American Jewish organizations. It is not the case that “names can never hurt you,” and there has been a lot of harsh name-calling within these groups. From the anti-Zionist perspective this is all for the good. These organizations had long ago turned into fronts for Israel and have been hurting, not helping, American Jews.

As for the future of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, it is hard to know if the storm that has blown up over the nuclear agreement with Iran has delivered a lasting blow. The Zionist lobby still has a lot of financial power and an increasingly firm alliance with the Republican Right. And, who knows, we might someday see those barbarians back in the White House.

On the other hand, that evolving alliance will continue to alienate more liberal Jews and Democratic politicians. The safest prediction to make is that while recent events might not spell the end of America’s “special relationship” with Israel, they are surely a big step in the right direction.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

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10 comments for “Israel’s Bitter Anti-Iran Fight

  1. Joe Tedesky
    September 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    All of this commotion over 2% of the American population, and for what? It seems like a very high price for America to pay to help secure a small piece of stolen land in the Middle East. What Jewish people should be most worried about, is if the western populace ever turns on them for all this, there will be a hell to pay for sure. Jews should separate themselves from the Zionist cult that has taken their culture to the lowest level of low. Certainly, this can’t go on forever.

    America was very concerned about John Kennnedy’s Catholic faith, and how his devotion to the Pope may have become a problem. New immigrants were told to integrate into the American way of life. Europe would become to be known as ‘the Old World’, and for many immigrants this also meant to never look back. My Italian grandmother purposely made her husband and children speak English at home, so that she might learn how to speak this new language to better fit in. Italian men changed their Italian name to English sounding names to be better accepted. This name change technique wasn’t just reserved for Italians, there were many nationalities who gave themselves English sounding names, as to hide their true origins.

    One must wonder in these September days of 2015 what it means, and why is our MSM concentrating so hard on the European Migrant story. My questioning this, is not too be cynical of these poor souls, but more too if these migrants are not being used for another purpose. Along with the migrant story there is a big story developing within the western press stating how the Iraqi’s want to end their relationship with Iran. All of this is aimed against Assad and against Iran, but even more so the real target is Putin. Israel may still get to implement the Yinon Plan after all. I swear these Zionist, and Neocon’s won’t be happy until we fight World War III.

    • Rob Roy
      September 7, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Joe Tedesky: Well said and true.

    • rosemerry
      September 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      I must agree with Joe. The influence of the zionist lobby is excessive and dangerous, as we see not only in Palestine but in all the Muslim lands invaded and destroyed by the USA and its “allies” just in the last few years. Peace is never even considered, any dissent is punished (eg the funding of candidates against any insufficiently pro-Israel elected member), and ludicrous statements like Obama’s “we’re all pro-Israel, and we’re family” , which would never be applied to a normal country, seem acceptable.

      • Peter Loeb
        September 10, 2015 at 6:37 am

        JOE T’S INTERNATIONAL FAN CLUB….

        Like “rosemerry”, I too agree with Joe Tedesky (above).

        At the risk of sounding redundant, I point to
        the story in the Electronic Intifada (“EI”) with
        a video of an IDF soldier chasing a Palestinian
        12-year old boy, putting a choke hold on him,
        banging his head hard against a rock as he
        helplessly flails for release (could he breathe?).
        It seems from the video that he was crying in
        desperation.

        At first the video could not be forwarded as it
        was available on Utube. Then it was “deleted”
        from Utube (see first comment).

        So at least in this country (?) millions have never
        seen that boy’s face.

        The little boy’s family came to his rescue and
        he did live.

        But while the world (we are told) has seen the boy
        dead in trying to flee Syria, called “gutwrenching”
        (fleeing Assad or IS is not specified…) the chokehold
        on the little boy in Palestine by a fully armed IDF
        soldier for “mysterious” reasons has not wrenched
        any American gut.

        It might (perhaps?) raise some questions about the
        “inherited” policies of the so-called “Israeli State”,
        Of course, many know all to well these policies….

        But in case you haven’t forgotten, Israel is “our ally..”.
        They are one of “us”. They love Beethoven and art.

        My gut has definitely been wrenched.

        Since its deletion from Utobe, the video is only availabe
        in the last days of August.

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Steve Naidamast
      September 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      I have to also agree with Joe. However, a lot of the factors that Joe brings up are supported by an entire history and sociology that one has to dig very deep to understand. As a military historian, I have been at this one particular subject in my studies for over a decade and have just been able to start connecting many of these “dots”.

      All of this began with the formation of Zionism, which came out of the Russian Jewish Community in the 19th century. Douglas Reed’s book, “The Controversy of Zion” provides an interesting introduction to a lot of this history. However be warned, his take on the surrounding histories such as the build-up to the French Revolution in 1789 is somewhat difficult to accept and there is little corroborating evidence for his contentions that I am aware of. In addition, his take on the position of Adolf Hitler in the lead up to WWII has already been proven to be nothing more than a lot of mythology. Unfortunately, Reed being a distinguished war correspondent up through the beginning of WWII is a product of his times.

      Despite these shortcomings his work describing the histories of Western and Russian Jewry as well as the rise of Zionist influence in governments in both the US and Europe is an eye-opener, much of which has in fact been corroborated by later writings and world events.

      This book is not for the “faint of heart” but this is what researching history is all about. If you dare to begin such a journey, this book can provide a road-map for further in-depth research.

    • Roberto
      September 8, 2015 at 2:19 am

      Whatever they do it will have to be done by them. Americans refuse.

  2. elmerfudzie
    September 6, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Israel mirrors the portfolio of any corporate entity in that, commercial activity projections are forecast by decades of time and of course, well into the future. Ask yourselves a basic question; what will the economies of the GCC and surrounding middle east countries look like in thirty years? Well, provided we all don’t blow ourselves up, one can expect that a few technologies will become both reliable and inexpensive. For example; there will be commercial fusion power in the form of highly distributed mini plants, situated across various “cantons” throughout major metropolitan areas. There will be transmission-line superconductivity at ambient temperatures, solar cells that will transduce all forms of light wave energy into electricity, and no doubt the rare earth metals required to power these advanced technologies are waiting to be culled from the caves of Afghanistan. Such tremendous advances can combine to bring quantities of desalinized water to new heights. There will be a tiny place called Israel, it’s topography and “national” treasures too small to cause a regional game changing event or scale. What to barter without substantial agricultural or mineral goods? Israel’s bloated and top heavy militarized GNP will eventually pop, as will the western Occident powers-for similar reasons. To top off this gloomy picture, Israel will find itself partnering across contiguous borders and with old enemies. The worn out California expression comes to mind…. whatever goes around, comes around. Good luck Jacob, you’ll be needing Adonis (continuing) favor- so don’t loose that last token in your pocket, Faith! and avoid, at all cost, that trigger in your hand- war.

  3. Rob Roy
    September 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    elmerfudzie: Also well said and true except for one glaring exception: Gaza has resources worth billions…natural gas, oil, minerals off their shores and don’t forget the minerals of the Dead Sea. Do you really thing Israel will let the Palestinians keep it, even though they own it? By the time your well-noted future gets here, the Israeli crazies plan to have no Arab population left at all. But, yes, the importance of Israel will wane and the empire of the U.S. will fade and fall. That’s the natural ebb and flow of history.

    • elmerfudzie
      September 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Rob Roy, my comments suggested that, burning oil or gas for the purposes of electrical generation, transportation or home heating will, over the next twenty years, fall precipitously. It looks as tho, Afghanistan is in line, as the new mineral resource hub (grab) of the world, much like Saudi oil is today. I say this because there is a conservative estimate of a trillion dollars worth of rare earths in that country. As you know, the first step to begin extraction is to make secure the mining and delivery routes. Thus, Shindand Air Base, gets the job and augmented funding to accomplish these things. It’s all so obvious! as to where future predation (s) will be. Today; what a curse to have oil reserves under your feet (no matter where one resides) and tomorrow, the same curse will extend to those countries with specific and abundant types of minerals.

  4. Kevdc
    September 14, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    At least here in the US, I’ve seen a clear generational divide on Jewish opinion toward the current Israeli government. Note I differentiate the current government from the nation of Israel itself. I see NO divide in terms of devotion to Israel, but a major division in terms of whether the current Israeli government is keeping Israel safer, or leading it towards disaster.

    A key timeline to remember is the Raid in Entebbe in 1976, and the invasion of Lebanon in 1981. The Raid in Entebbe was the last time there was universal praise for the “David” Israel triumphing over its numerous enemies. However, five years later, in the attack on Lebanon, when none of the Arab countries could do nothing to stop the Israeli military, a seachange in views about Israeli came about, a seachange that those who came of age in the 50’s to 70’s are blind to. Older generation Jewish leaders continue to lament how outnumbered Israel is, and how it is surrounded by enemies. The problem is that for anyone younger than 50, those fears seem ridiculous. Since the Lebanon invasion, it has been clear to anyone with eyes to see that there is only one military Goliath in the Mideast, and it is Israel.

    This blindness is yet another reason I fear Sen. Schumer becoming Democratic leader of the Senate. Having read many statements from Senators on the Iran deal, I would love to see a movement towards Sen. Klobuchar, who seems to be comfortably in the middle of the Senate democratic caucus, is telegenic, articulate and personable. And her statement on the Iran treaty was flawless in its reasoning.

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