George W. Bush and Al Gore
made the predictable pit stops at the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC). With characteristic daring, Bush
vowed to waste no time moving the U.S. embassy from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem. He also denounced the Clinton administration
for putting too much pressure on Israel. "In recent
times Washington has tried to make Israel conform to its
own plans and timetables...but this is not the path to peace."
The next day it was Gores turn and he seized the opportunity
to denounce...Bushs father. In 1991 the elder Bush
blocked loan guarantees to Israel, protesting the continued
building of settlements. "I vividly remember standing
up against a group of administration foreign policy advisers
who promoted the insulting concept of linkage," Gore
boasted. "We defeated them..."
there we have it: the next administrations attitude
will be that Israel should be able to do whatever it wants
with the vast fortune that the U.S. annually bestows on
it, and we should have no say at all in the matter.
other country gets hit with sanctions the moment it fails
to follow Washingtons orders, but not Israel. No country
in the world is the object of so much hysterical veneration,
so much anguished cheerleading and so many outrageous double
standards as Israel. Case in point: a recent Weekly Standard
cover story written by Charles Krauthammer. "Israels
enemies see the future," he writes, "a future
Israelis themselves may now be creating: a world without
Zionism, a world without Israel." Krauthammer bases
his conclusion on Yoram Hazonys new book The Jewish
State. Hazony, invariably described as Israels
leading "neoconservative," claims that the "idea
of the Jewish state is under systematic attack from [Israels]
own cultural and intellectual establishment." Israels
elite is in the grips of something called "post-Zionism,"
a way of thinking that sees no point to the continued existence
of a specifically Jewish state. According to Hazony, fashionable
people believe that Israel should become a state like any
other a so-called "state of its citizens."
They want to divorce Jewish nationality from the state of
finds this horrifying. But why? Everyone else is giving
up on nationalism. Fifteen European nations have surrendered
much of their sovereignty. No one even talks about the American
nation. We are simply the "indispensable nation."
Why should Israel be immune? Krauthammer provided an answer
a couple of years ago in a New Republic symposium
marking the centenary of the Zionist movement. He wrote:
"Large nations may suffer defeats, even occupation.
They may even, for a time, lose their independence. But
they cannot disappear. Small nations can. Israel is a small
nation. That is the reason post-Zionism is so dangerous.
It is dedicated to dismantling the Zionist fortress state...
To do so when the danger is at the gate is suicide."
What he says about small nations is true. But he fails to
mention that, unlike other small nations, Israel can call
on the services of the greatest power in the world. Israels
enemies, on the other hand, have no one to call on.
it would be nice if Israels champions would occasionally
acknowledge the existence of other "small nations"
who may be fighting for survival. Instead, Israels
amen corner is notable for the virulence of the attacks
it directs at the national aspirations of others. Few publications
are as filled with visceral hatred as The New Republic.
Russians are condemned for "reactionary nationalism";
the Kurds for "romantic nationalism"; the Chinese
for "bellicose nationalism." Arab nationalism
a creation of Christians "fearful of Muslim
dominance" is all "Germanic ideas about
volk and anti-Semitism." When Marty Peretzs boys
are not denouncing "the age-old European bugaboo of
nationalism," they are fretting about the "neo-nationalists"
of Japan, who "are dangerously anti-American, or harbor
loopy notions about reconstructing a stronger and more aggressive
Japanese military." Then there was Daniel Goldhagens
anti-Serb screed last year surely the most repulsive
atrocity The New Republic ever perpetrated: "The
vast majority of the Serbs are animated by a particularly
virulent variant of the nationalism characteristic of Western
civilization... The majority of the Serbian people...have
rendered themselves both legally and morally incompetent
to conduct their own affairs."
get the idea. Jewish nationalism is good and every other
nationalism is bad. Yet endless repetition scarcely makes
the claim any more plausible. "Israel was our sovereign
land from which we were exiled and the claim to which we
never renounced," writes Krauthammer, "unlike
the colonizers of, say, Australia, South Africa and North
America, we are returning to...our patrimony. And the argument
from necessity that a people savagely persecuted and
denied refuge in every corner of the globe needs at least
one place of its own was made 50 years ago, tragically
and definitively, in the wake of the Holocaust."