August 5, 2002

America's special relationship with Israel – when love becomes obsession

Bill Clinton wouldn't fight for his own country, as we all know, but now he says he'd grab a gun and fight …. for Israel:

"If Iraq came across the Jordan River ... I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die."

Conservatives had a good chortle over that little news item, but I wonder how many of them realized that Clinton isn't the only President whose warlike instincts are aroused by Israeli pheromones. A young Bush II showed no alacrity for the military life: he somehow managed to sneak into the Texas Air National Guard at a time when the sons of ordinary Americans were dying in a foreign jungle. After pledging to pursue a more "humble" foreign policy, no sooner does Bush II become President then his military ambitions became virtually Napoleonic. Before Mr. Humble is through, all the spokes on the "axis of evil" are going to be knocked out, if we take his several pronouncements over the past few months seriously.

Not only Iraq, but Iran, too, seems slated for a US invasion: indeed, the military is already planning on occupying a conquered Iraq with at least 75,000 troops – in order to "guard" it from Iran. Clearly, the Iraq attack is only going to be phase one of a multi-faceted war on the Arab world, a war that has only two possible beneficiaries -- none of which are America.

The principal beneficiary is Osama bin Laden, whose propagandists will point to US aggression as the final proof of their Manichean worldview, which pits a permanent Islamic jihad against the Western "Crusaders" and the Israelis. Millions will flock to Bin Laden's banner. Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states – all will be delivered into his open arms.

Israel will also benefit greatly. Under cover of a regional conflagration, the Israeli "Defense" Force will hardly be noticed as it goes on the offensive, carving out a Greater Israel from Arafat's crumbling proto-state, and driving the Palestinians into Jordan. Ariel Sharon won't have to rein in his right-wing settlers anymore: there will be plenty more land to colonize. Clinton, the champion panderer, knows full well that if an army goes crashing over the river Jordan, it won't be Iraqi, it'll be the IDF.

Perhaps in anticipation of the need for more settlers in fairly short order, the Israelis have now started proselytizing, and are importing freshly minted Jewish colonists from as far away as Peru. As Hirsh Goodman wryly notes:

"When it comes to the settlement movement, the sky is now the limit, including a crash course of 12 working days in how to transform from an Andes Indian into a settler Jew."

"The Ha'aretz newspaper's weekend magazine of July 19 carried a cover story about 90 Indians from villages tucked far up in the remote mountains of Peru who had been converted to Judaism in Lima in a record two weeks. They were then flown to Israel where they were sent directly to two Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Alon Shvut and Karmei Tzur, where they will study in yeshivah and pray, at the state's expense, for the messiah to arrive."

Hirsh says "at the state's expense," but he doesn't say which state. It's the US, of course: that is, you and I. So far, we've "donated" $91 billion – and counting. For FY 2001 appropriations for Israel included not only $2.82 billion in economic and military aid to Israel, but also an additional $60 million in "refugee resettlement" and $250 million in the Department of Defense budget, plus $85 million in interest. Grand total: $3.215 billion. Just think how many Peruvians that will buy: and I hear Uruguayans and Argentines are going cheap, too….

Yeah, Clinton sure did love all things Israeli: not only did he grant a pardon to the notorious criminal, financier Marc Rich, at the request of the previous Labor government, but, in addition, just before he gave up the reins of power, on Nov. 14, 2000, Clinton sent a special request to Congress demanding an additional $450 million in military aid to Israel in FY 2001, and $350 million for FY 2002. Money to Israel is funneled through every which way, including "loans" that are always forgiven, and more moolah for Peruvian converts and helicopter gun-ships is even embedded in the "Homeland Security" bill. But whose "homeland" are they talking about?

When the draft-dodging Clinton declared his willingness to take up arms on behalf of Israel, I wondered: could he have said that about any other country and still gotten what the newspapers described as "a standing ovation"? What is it about Israel that makes the President of the United States – Republican or Democrat – treat it with such deference? Bush won't even admit that he must go to Congress, first, with his war plans, and consult with the people's representatives before he sends their sons and daughters off to the Iraqi charnel-house. But he's pledged to consult with the government of Israel and advise them of our war plans well in advance of any invasion.

Veterans groups erupted in disgust at the news of Clinton's comments, but my favorite was the remark of an unidentified House GOP aide, who quipped:

"He just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong?"

Yes, but so does George W. Bush, and he hopes some of the ardor inspired by his unconditional support for Israel will rub off on his brother Jeb in the upcoming Florida election. The Republicans argue that their love is true, while Bill, as we all know, is the human embodiment of promiscuity, both politically and otherwise. Leave it to the New York Post's "Page Six" to tell us about the one thing that Bill wouldn't do for Israel:

"Bill Clinton's recent vow to grab a rifle and 'get in the trench and fight and die' for Israel isn't the first time the former president has gone overboard in pandering to Jewish audiences. But his office is denying an oft-repeated tale that he once said, 'I would do anything for Israel – except get a circumcision.'"

The White House, naturally, is denying rumors that, upon hearing this, George W. said "Well, I sure would….

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.