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July 16, 2008

Turning the Tables
on the Israel-Firsters


by Michael Scheuer

Now that the dust has settled in the spat between journalist Joe Klein and the ideologues at Commentary, it is time to regret the ink spilled over the non-issue of "dual loyalties." The idea that there are U.S. citizens who have equal loyalties to the United States and Israel is passé. American Israel-firsters have long since dropped any pretense of loyalty to the United States and its genuine national interests. They have moved brazenly into the Israel first, last, and always camp. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Rudy Giuliani, Douglas Feith, the Rev. Rod Parsley, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Bill Kristol, the Rev. John Hagee, and the thousands of wealthy supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) appear to care about the United States only so far as Washington is willing to provide immense, unending funding and the lives of young U.S. service personnel to protect Israel. These individuals and their all-for-Israel journals Commentary, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal amount to nothing less than a fifth column intent on involving 300 million Americans in other peoples' religious wars, making them pay and bleed to protect a nation in which the United States has no genuine national security interest at stake.

The Israel-firsters' success is, of course, the stuff of which legends are made. Most recently, for example, we heard President Bush echo Sen. Lieberman's insane and subversive contention that the United States has a "duty" to ensure the fulfilling of God's millennia-old promise to Abraham regarding the creation and survival of Israel. Bush told the Knesset all Americans are ready to endlessly bleed and pay to ensure Israel's security. And where does the president derive authority to make such a commitment in the name of his countrymen? From the Constitution? On the basis of America's dominant religion? From heaven forbid a thoughtful, hardheaded analysis of U.S. interests?

No, Bush's pledge was based on none of these. Bush's decision to more deeply involve America in the eternal Arab-Israeli war was based on nothing less than the corruption wrought on the American political system by the Israel-firsters, AIPAC's enormous treasury, and the lamentable but growing influence of America's leading evangelical Protestant preachers.

The Israel-firsters started the Iraq war and now have the United States locked into an occupation of that country that may not end in any of our lifetimes. Unless Americans ignore the likes of Hanson, Podhoretz, Lieberman, Woolsey, and Wolfowitz, the cost in blood and treasure will ultimately bankrupt America.

AIPAC is a perfectly legal organization, and the wealth of its members is channeled into reliable campaign contributions for any candidate from either party who will put Israel's interests above America's. From McCain to Obama, from Pelosi to Giuliani, from Hillary Clinton to Vice President Cheney, AIPAC pumps money to any and every American politician who is willing to adopt an Israel-first policy.

Leading American Protestant evangelical preachers men like Hagee, Parsley, and Graham are the newest and perhaps most anti-American members of this fifth column. They serve two purposes: (1) to reinforce in the minds of their flocks the Bush-Lieberman absurdity that the United States has a "duty" to ensure Israel's survival; and (2) to use religious rhetoric to steadily convince the Muslim world that U.S. leaders are interested only in taming and if need be, destroying Islam.

The reality and power of this anti-American, pro-Israel triangle Israel-first politicians, civil servants, and pundits; AIPAC's corrupting influence; and the warmongering of major evangelical Protestant preachers is so obvious and palpable that the only way its members can blur reality is to deny the triangle's existence and identify their critics as anti-Semites. Well, the time has come to simply ignore these folks' knee-jerk hurling of that epithet. Indeed, the slur ought to understood for what it is: a sure sign that the Israel-firsters know that their fifth column would be destroyed in a minute if their fellow Americans come to recognize that their sons and daughters are dying in Iraq and soon elsewhere to protect an Israeli state whose existence is just as important to U.S. interests as the creation of a Palestinian state that is, of no importance whatsoever.

American voters must start using the democratic process to begin removing themselves from the religious war known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Disengagement will take time, hard work, and a steadfast commitment to the rule of law. Three actions are well within the voters' capability, and their use would bring pressure on federal officials to stop killing America's children in wars between Arabs and Israelis.

  1. Voters should press federal representatives to end taxpayer funding for the National Endowment for Democracy and other such organizations. These organizations' main function is to promote the fallacy that U.S. interests are served by making sure that Israel "the embattled island of democracy in the Middle East" is protected, and that the lives of American children should be joyfully spent to bring democracy to foreigners in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
  2. Voters should not vote for any candidate for federal office who accepts contributions from AIPAC or any other Israel-first organization. This decision would be an important step in beginning to sweep clean the Augean stable that is American politics.
  3. Voters of all faiths must press their religious leaders to regularly, publicly, and specifically denounce the evangelical Protestant preachers whose fire-and-brimstone support for Israel involves Americans in religious wars in which U.S. interests are not threatened.

Neutralizing the Israel-first fifth column must be done, but it must be accomplished using legitimate democratic tools: voting, lobbying, free speech, and support for candidates pledged to keep America out of other peoples' religious wars. The invocation of the anti-Semite epithet by the Israel-firsters should be ignored. To be silenced by the slurs of the Israel-firsters is to ignominiously invite the end of American independence by subordinating U.S. interests to those of a foreign nation, as well as to forget the warning of the greatest American. "If men are precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind," George Washington said in March 1783, "reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter." As long as the Israel-firsters can define the limits of acceptable public discourse, Americans are on their way to the slaughter.

 

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Michael Scheuer is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.

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