Last December, I spoke to the nonpartisan Jamestown
Foundation's annual conference on al-Qaeda. My talk was a worldwide survey
of how America's war against Islamism had gone in 2008; an analysis of al-Qaeda's
current fortunes and growth potential; and an assessment of whether U.S. policies
were adequately protecting genuine U.S. national interests as the Obama administration
began. I concluded that 2008 was a year of setbacks for America, and that the
future appeared rather bleak.
For the speech, I took as my text a truncated version of the introduction
I wrote for the paperback edition of my book, Marching
Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq. In preparing the new text
I was pleased to find my predictions in the hardcover had been accurate, but
saddened that Americans had not faced the fact that our Islamist foes are motivated
by U.S. foreign policies and their impact. One policy I am critical of in Marching
Toward Hell is the nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship. I argued that
unqualified, bipartisan support for Israel damages U.S. national security,
and I damned those who identify critics of the relationship as anti-American,
anti-Semitic, or, in my case, according to AIPAC leader Morris J. Amitay, a
man who would make Mein Kampf "required reading" at the CIA.
In the course of analyzing 2008 events, I found no reason to alter my view.
And after hearing McCain and Obama during the campaign, there was no reason
to expect change in Washington's Israel policy. At the Jamestown Conference,
I therefore first discussed the abject failure of President Bush and his advisers
to recognize that al-Qaeda and its allies are waging war because of U.S. policies
– one of which is Israel policy – and not because of our lifestyle and domestic
I next offered an estimate of Mr. Obama's potential to change these terrorism-motivating
policies. While admitting an inability to read Obama's mind, I noted that he
had given at least two strong hints – to Americans and the Muslim world – that
he would be as pro-Israel as Mr. Bush. I noted that (a) Mr. Obama spent the
last months of the presidential campaign "dancing the Tel Aviv two-step,"
promising to protect Israel as if it were located inside the United States;
and (b) Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, a U.S. citizen
who during the 1991 Gulf War left America to serve in Israel's military.
These statements of fact suggested to me that U.S. policy toward Israel and
the Muslim world would be identical to Mr. Bush's, albeit couched in softer,
My speech seemed well received, but in January I received a call from Jamestown's
president telling me I had been terminated as a senior fellow by the Foundation's
board of directors. Why, I asked? He responded by citing my comments about
Obama doing the "Tel Aviv two-step" and my description of Emanuel's
record, both of which he said might be in a speech by Rep. Ron Paul. My remarks
about Emanuel apparently sparked particular anger among the Foundation's directors,
as Jamestown's president referred to them at least three times in a short telephone
conversation. In any event, the president said several major financial donors
to Jamestown threatened to withdraw funding if I remained a senior fellow,
so I was getting the boot. Then he added that my every-other-week essays for
Jamestown's Terrorism Focus had attracted readers and praise for the
Foundation, so the directors said I could keep writing for the journal. I declined
this honor, which seemingly was a bribe made in the hope that I would not speak
publicly about being terminated as a senior fellow for saying the current state
of the U.S.-Israel relationship undermined U.S. national security.
I regret leaving Jamestown, as I have great respect for its analysis on several
vital U.S. security issues. But at the same time, I am grateful to the Foundation's
directors for terminating me. In the hardcover of Marching Toward Hell,
I condemned the U.S.-Israel relationship and those who take it "upon themselves
to decide who is and who is not a 'good American,'" based on his or her
views of U.S.-Israel relations, and "then mete out punishment to those
of their countrymen who do not make the grade." At the time, my view was
based on what pro-Israel U.S. citizens had done to Pat Buchanan, President
Carter, and Professors Walt and Mearsheimer.
Now, however, I have the personal experience of losing both position and income
for condemning Washington's status quo Israel policy as a threat to U.S. national
security. The introduction to my paperback, therefore, can be said to be credibly
written by an author with firsthand knowledge of how the Israel Lobby works.
After my experience with the "nonpartisan" board of directors at
Jamestown, I can only say of them what FDR said of his domestic foes: "They
are unanimous in their hatred for me – and I welcome their hatred."