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On with the War!

January 31, 2002

Judging from President Bush’s state of the Union message, what began as the War on Terrorism will be now be broadened to become a War to Crush Israel’s Enemies. He named three states as an “axis of evil”: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. These are sometimes called “rogue nations” for their defiance of American global hegemony and their hostility to Israel.

Israel’s “amen corner” in the American press — spearheaded by Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, William Kristol, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — has been calling for war on Israel’s enemies (not just Afghanistan, which is remote from Israel) since September 11. For a while Bush seemed to be resisting calls for a dangerous wider war, which friendly European governments opposed; but now he is in alignment with Israel against Europe.

Why the change? We may never know. But politicians are often subject to powerful backstage pressures that are hidden from the public. We can never discount the possibility of blackmail.

The same is true of journalists. In this respect, the conservative press is even worse than the liberal press. I learned long ago, the hard way, that criticism of Israel is taboo in conservative journalism. Such criticism is equated with “anti-Semitism”: if you say the alliance with Israel has been disastrous for this country — as the 9/11 attacks should have proved even to the dullest observer — you will be treated as if you’d called for nuking Jerusalem.

Today such publications as National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the Washington Times treat Israel as Communism’s liberal fellow-travelers used to treat the Soviet Union. Israel is a model democracy and a “reliable ally” of the United States. Israel can do no wrong. Israel is never at fault. Israel is the victim not only of its neighbors, but of its own Arab subjects. Even mild criticism of Israel springs from evil motives.

This has become the conservative party line. How do you reconcile it with American patriotism? Ah, that’s another tenet of the party line: what’s good for Israel is good for the United States. The two countries’ interests are virtually identical. Therefore the U.S. Government should never pressure the Israeli government, because whatever Ariel Sharon does for Israel will automatically serve American interests. (It’s grimly amusing that the Zionist pundits refer to the American people as “we.”)

Not that these journalists are stupid enough to believe all this; but they are smart enough to know what will happen to their careers if they contradict the party line. In private conversation they are often surprisingly skeptical of pro-Israel propaganda; but in print, their skepticism is carefully concealed. The more honorable among them simply steer around the whole subject, in order to avoid trouble while telling the truth about those topics they do feel free to discuss. Often they have children they hope to send through college.

[Breaker quote: Fighting for our 
'reliable ally']Sometimes the pressure is blatant. A Canadian publisher has just bought a large newspaper chain and issued an express order that these papers print only pro-Israel editorials.

But that’s unusual. As a rule Jews don’t have to enforce the taboos. Cowardly and venal gentiles will enforce them against each other. The most vicious attacks on Patrick Buchanan a few years ago came from his fellow Catholics.

It was an interesting object lesson in the truth that startled the philosopher David Hume: how easily the many may be ruled by the few. “Democracy” is merely the best disguise yet devised for minority rule. Convince the majority that they are ruling themselves, and they will submit to anything.

So now our rulers are drawing precisely the wrong lesson from September 11. Instead of ending American meddling abroad, they are redoubling it. Never mind how many enemies this will needlessly make in the long run. The “reliable ally” must be served, and “rogue nations” must be brought to heel.

A few weeks ago France’s ambassador to Great Britain caused an uproar by saying at a dinner party what most diplomats privately believe about Israel: that it’s monstrous that this little country should be able to draw the whole world into war. Somehow — that is, inevitably — his private remark, heard by his Zionist hostess, immediately found its way into print, and Jewish groups called for a boycott of all French goods.

On with the war!

Joseph Sobran

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