Did U.S. policy reflect the people's will, even a little? Hardly. "Pro-Israel" groups went into overdrive, targeting any politicians or human rights organizations that dared to question what Israel was doing to the civilian population in Lebanon. The Bush administration backed Israel to the hilt and delayed a ceasefire resolution -- just as they are doing now -- in a futile attempt to give Israel time to eke out a military victory. Not to be outdone, Congress passed a resolution of support by a vote of 410-8, after deleting a clause from the initial draft that called for both sides to minimize harm to civilians. The result of all this "support" was a major setback for Israel, however, as the ill-conceived war undermined Lebanon’s fragile democracy and left Hezbollah stronger and more popular than before. Delaying the ceasefire also cost more Israeli and Lebanese lives.
And here's the real tragedy: giving Israel unconditional support wasn't a true act of friendship then and isn't a genuine act of friendship now; on the contrary, it's positively harmful to the long-term interests of the Jewish state. Those congressmen, senators, and other government officials who are falling over themselves to defend Israel's behavior, along with the usual apologists like Marty Peretz and Alan Dershowitz, are no friends of Israel, though they undoubtedly think they are. Their support helped Israel shoot itself in the foot in 2006, and they are helping it do the same thing today.
Pundits like Walter Russell Mead are fond of claiming that the U.S.-Israel "special relationship" reflects shared religious traditions and the will of the American people. The evidence suggests otherwise: although most Americans support Israel’s existence and have more sympathy for them than they have for the Palestinians, they are not demanding that U.S. leaders back Israel no matter what it does. But that's what American politicians reflexively do, even though it encourages Israel to continue immoral and self-destructive policies (including the continued expansion of settlements) and contributes to Arab and Islamic anger at the United States.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Think About for the Day
It's time to redefine "pro-Israel";