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 Whacking Our Allies 

February 20, 2003

For months I’ve watched with fascination as our brave conservative pundits have whacked at our cowardly, treacherous “allies” for their failure to obey President Bush with due servility. First they went after Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt; more recently they’ve been sneering at France, Germany, and other nations of “Old Europe.”

This is what comes of the Bush doctrine, which insists that if you aren’t with us — with us, that is, all the way, whatever we do or say or demand — you’re with the terrorists. It reminds me of the way the Stalin crowd used to insist that if you weren’t on the side of the proletarian revolution, you were “objectively fascist.”

So today our right-wing gladiators — George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the boys at National Review, to mention just a few — have put on their armor and war paint and are contemptuously heaving brickbats at our no-good, gutless, appeasing “allies” (always spelling the word with derisive quotation marks). Good patriots are now expected to boycott Perrier and avoid dropping French and German phrases, so as to teach these effete European creeps the lesson that World War II apparently failed to get through their skulls.

I can’t help noticing, however, that one U.S. ally (no quote marks necessary here) is exempt from all this riotous invective. That would be our only reliable ally in the Middle East — the one that has murdered American sailors and stolen American military secrets.

To our heroic conservative journalists, Israel’s treachery to the United States since 1954, unlike France’s surrender to Hitler in 1940, is ancient history — down the Memory Hole. George Will spares Israel his exquisite sarcasms. Limbaugh and Hannity, discussing Ariel Sharon, stop yelling and speak in tones of hushed reverence. National Review doesn’t do long exposés of Israeli duplicity. When it comes to Israel, these patriots’ defiant courage suddenly deserts them.

No, Israel is to be loved, honored, supported, and, above all, trusted. Our right-wing patriots aren’t alarmed, or even mildly curious, about Israel’s unacknowledged “weapons of mass destruction” (including hundreds of nuclear weapons) or about how, exactly, it came by them. In its unhappy relations with the Arabs, including the Palestinian children who seem to attract so much Israeli ammunition, Israel is always right. The motives of Israel’s critics are always suspect. (Hitler’s name is occasionally mentioned, reminding us that any criticism of Jews leads inexorably to genocide.)

[Breaker quote: With one exception]When I hear our ferocious hawks whaling away (if hawks can be said to whale) at France or Belgium, I try to imagine them speaking of Israel with similar scorn, fury, and ridicule. The idea is laughable.

If it turned out that the most outré of recent conspiracy theories was true — that Israel had somehow arranged the 9/11 attacks — I suspect that these hawks would be only momentarily embarrassed. In due course they would explain that Israel surely had understandable reasons, that the news media were making a big sensation out of the incident because of their anti-Israel bias, and that, still and all, Israel remained our staunch ally.

I was working at National Review in the mid 1980s, when the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal hit the front pages. Even then the magazine had totally lost its nerve where Israel was concerned. The other editors (I was badly outnumbered) took the bizarre position that Pollard himself should get the death penalty, but that his Israeli employers should pay no penalty at all. Israel was, still and all, our staunch ally.

A famous Jewish editor wrote a letter to the editor praising this judicious view. My own view was that if a country steals your military secrets (and peddles them to the Soviet Union, to boot), it isn’t exactly your staunch ally.

It wasn’t as if National Review took espionage lightly. It still talked in its sleep about Alger Hiss and other Soviet agents of yore. But somehow Israeli espionage was ... well, different. The magazine was “jumpy about Jews,” as I later wrote in a column which, as I expected (and intended), ended my 21 years of employment there. A tactless phrase, I grant you, but quite true. And still true.

Behind all this courageous excoriation of our old Arab and European allies is a thorough jumpiness about Jews. A simple, sweaty fear. Our brave boys are scared to death. It’s as if they’d read the forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, believed every word of them, and concluded that the prudent course was to stay on the good side of the Elders of Zion.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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