Opinion: Israel has too much influence over the United States

By uhuru1701 via Flickr
By uhuru1701 via Flickr

Most American citizens apparently don’t understand, or don’t care, how much influence Israel has on our government, especially on our foreign policy. Most Americans don’t seem to realize, or don’t care, that when Israeli conduct is the issue, we turn away from the very democratic and human rights principles we claim to hold dear. Paradoxically, many of the principles we blithely toss aside actually underpin the wisdom of our most cherished documents.

Israel’s influence is outsized and profound, and this influence is harmful because we too often find ourselves on the wrong side of decency, morality and common sense.

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Obama may not be so anti-Israel after all

By GARY BAUMGARTEN

Many Jewish critics and Palestinians were shocked when President Obama this week affirmed before the UN General Assembly his previously stated position that a new Palestinian state can only be created through negotiations. He also pledged before the world body that the U.S. would veto the Palestinian statehood resolution should one pass the Security Council.

It caused for Obama’s popularity to rise in Israel – and to fall among Palestinians.

The perception many had had up until then was that Obama was turning his back on Israel. But sometimes rhetoric and reality don’t match up.

The Israelis have long been trying to convince the United States to sell them powerful bunker buster bombs. Even George W. Bush – who was perceived as being more friendly to Israel, said no.

But Newsweek is reporting that the United States has secretly provided Israel the long-sought-after weaponry – and that was a decision made by the Obama White House. Offering a different view of what may be the real relationship between the United States and Israel.

Turkey rebuffs U.S. overture

PANARMENIAN.NET

Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on September 17, that Turkey does not need US intervention in resolving issues with Israel, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Turkey does not need US intervention in resolving relations with Israel,” according to the minister.

Turkey-Israel relations deteriorated sharply following Israel’s refusal to apologize for the demise of Turkey’s citizens in the assault of the peace flotilla in May 2010, which caused the death of nine Turkish citizens. According to reports, Ankara is going to direct some military vessels to the Israeli shore.

Iran hosts international terrorism conference


International terrorism conference in Tehran

In what can be described as either the boldest case of chutzpah on the global stage or that of the pot calling the kettle black, Iran is hosting an international terrorism conference. At which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. and European nations of protecting terrorists.

Ahmadinejad was joined by Lebanon Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour in alleging that Israel and the United States are the main sources of terror in the Middle East.

Anti-American protests in the Gaza

ISRAEL TODAY

JERUSALEM – It has already been reported that while much of the Middle East was pleased with Osama bin Laden’s assassination by American forces, the Palestinian Arabs stood out as the only regional group to oppose the elimination of the arch-terrorist.

Recent rallies in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have revealed just how much Palestinian Islamists idolized bin Laden and how broad was his popularity on the “Palestinian street.”

During the various rallies, the standard chants of the thousands of attendees have been: “Bin Laden Shattered Crosses” (speaking to their hatred of Christianity) and “America is the Enemy of Allah.”

At one rally, Hamas leader Sheikh Munir Al-Aydi eulogized bin Laden by praising the latter’s dedication to “lead the global jihad against America and its allies, the worshippers of the cross.”

Western leaders have for the past decade been trying hard to equate Christianity with Islam and the God of the Bible with Allah. They are adamant that there is no religious war taking place.

But the Palestinian Islamists clearly do not agree.

In light of these dangerous delcarations by Hamas leaders, it is important to once again call out Western leaders who insist that Hamas be made part of the diplomatic peace process with Israel.

Not only does Hamas continue to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist, but it openly advocates the teachings of terrorists who want to impose Islamic law on the entire world.

Translation of the televised Hamas rallies was provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute. Article courtesy Israel Today Magazine.

Pressure on Israel: Incredible stupidity or evil?

Crater from Gaza missile attack. Israel Project photo

By AUDREY RUSSO

Let me ask you a question.

If Canada was lobbing an average of 6.3 mortars and rockets a day on our civilian population simply because they wanted our land and would like to see us dead, would we negotiate with them in a diplomatic manner? Or would we acquiesce to the pressure of so-called friends to give up more of our land to Canada in order to secure more of the imaginary peace we received the last time we gave our land for peace?

Then why do we [U.S.] continue our deleterious campaign of pressure on Israel?

The Jewish state has had to endure daily bombings  of their civilian population since they gave the Palestinian Authority  the Gaza strip (and there’s nary a peep from the media). They have thwarted more attacks than can be imagined (but you’ll never hear a Wah-Wah chorus emanating out of them, as you do from Muslims when their mere feelings are hurt).

Now, since I have been able to obtain this simple  information concerning the violent actions of ‘Palestinians’ against innocent Jewish civilians, surely the U.S. government has access to it, as well. And if they had bothered to at least glance at the facts on the ground (and the rockets in the air), they would realize that the PA is no partner for peace.

Another clue to the PA’s true intentions can easily be observed by giving a listen to the daily rhetoric on PA TV or radio. Their mouths are frothing with hatred toward the Jews, counting the days until they push them into the sea (with the U.S. giving the first shove).

What, we need an interpreter for this??

Honestly, what will it take for us to get it? What more evidence is necessary for us to grasp the understanding that there will be no peace with a people who are bent on the destruction of their neighbors  for merely existing (I think we call that genocide)?

Our inability to comprehend this situation either speaks of our incredible stupidity concerning the facts or an underlying diabolical agenda by loathsome leaders who wear a grin like a second skin and ignore the desire of the American people, who overwhelmingly support the Jewish state.

Whether purposeful or not, our persistent coercion will ultimately be to the detriment of Israel, as well as to ourselves.

Audrey Russo blogs at http://www.audreyrusso.com/.

 

 

Why America loves Israel

Obama and Peres in Jerusalem. Obama for America photo by David Katz

By JONATHAN ROSENBLUM

Carl Schramm’s graduation speech to Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business was pretty much what one would expect from one of America’s leading students of entrepreneurship: a paean to American freedom of the individual and the economic freedom on which it is grounded. In the middle of Schramm’s celebration of American capitalism, there appeared a sentence that caught my attention: “The per capita rate of business formation in the U.S. is higher than in any industrialized society except Israel.”

That chance reference to Israel together with the United States set me thinking about one of the nearly open miracles of Israel’s history: The only country in the world in which popular support for Israel is consistently high also happens to be the richest and most powerful nation in history, the one indispensable ally.

American support for Israel has little to do with the wealth or influence of the Jewish community. Many of Israel’s staunchest political supporters in the United States represent states or districts with few Jewish voters. (The same pattern exists in Canada, whose prime minister, Stephen Harper, is by far the most forceful advocate for Israel among current world leaders. The traditional base of Harper’s Conservative Party is in the Western provinces, where the Jewish population is small.)

Schramm’s passing reference to Israel had nothing to do with his topic. Nevertheless, the case can be made that it is precisely America’s historical emphasis on freedom (over equality) that explains the strong support for Israel in America. That emphasis on individual freedom is expressed in many ways. America has, for instance, proven largely resistant to class-based political parties, in large part because there was no rigid class system perceived as impeding social mobility. The private sphere in America has always been large. De Tocqueville, one of the first and sharpest observers of American society, marveled at the plethora of voluntary associations.

Americans have always entertained a deep skepticism about anything that smacks of rule by Platonic Guardians, who deem themselves wiser than the common man, whether in the form of activist judges or Washington bureaucrats. Perhaps that can be attributed to the absence of a feudal past, in which serfs were wholly dependent on the local lord for protection. In part, that skepticism of “wise men” reflects the epistemological modesty underlying free market capitalism, with its preference for resource allocation on the basis of the amalgamated decisions of millions of individual consumers to central planning by government bureaucrats, be they ever so smart.

Americans have always been jealous guardians of their sovereignty, regarding governmental decisions with increasing suspicion according to their remove from the individual voter. Thus the preference for decision-making at the state level – “50 social laboratories” in Justice Brandeis’s memorable phrase – over the national level in America’s federal system. Americans have traditionally been reluctant to tether national sovereignty to multi-national organizations and resistant to international treaty obligations that limit national sovereignty.

Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP currently on trial in Holland for describing Islam as a “dangerous totalitarian ideology,” recently told an audience in Tennessee, “Do you know why America is in better shape than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom than Europeans. And do you know why Americans enjoy more freedom than Europeans? Because you are still allowed to tell the truth.” Indeed free speech in America is far more robust than Europe, where it is subject to a panoply of human rights commissions and laws determining what is “proper speech.”

Perhaps most important in terms of the American-Israel relationship, Americans have always been willing to fight to defend their freedom. No country has shed so much blood or expended so much treasurem, not to expand its empire but in the defense of the freedom of others and to spread freedom to places in which it did not previously exist.

Americans see Israelis as made of the same stuff, kindred spirits who do not hesitate to defend their freedom. David Wurmser, at the time a senior advisor to Vice President Cheney, observed a decade ago that Americans support Israel because they see the Jews as doughty defenders of common values, who rely on no one but themselves to protect their homes and families against a host of enemies.

The one important thread linking America and Israel is their commitment to freedom, it follows that a different type of American society – one closer to the model of European social democracies – would more closely resemble the Europeans in their lack of support of Israel’s independence. And an Israel less brave in its own defense would command far less respect from Americans.

European social democracies in which an elite bureaucratic class maintains the loyalty a majority of the citizenry by conditioning them to expect an increasing array of social benefits paid for through income redistribution is incompatible with the traditional American ideal of maximum freedom to pursue one’s individual goals. And those social democracies produce a radically different citizenry, as reflected in the widespread passivity, even trembling, in Europe in the face of the demands for de facto independence by their growing Islamic minorities.

Just as parents who try to give their children everything often end up producing weaklings, lacking in ambition, and incapable of making their own way in the world, so too a society that attempts to provide for every need will produce an effete citizenry, lacking in vitality, and unwilling or incapable of defending itself.

In his Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman discusses at length the disdain of many leading European intellectuals for the courage (as if there were something fascistic about even praising the virtue) of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian-born woman, who as a teenager sought asylum in Holland rather than enter into an arranged marriage with an older relative, and who, in time, fashioned herself into a leading public intellectual and Dutch MP. She once told a supercilious interviewer, appalled by her dark warnings about the threat of the Islam into which she was born and her neo-conservative views: “Perhaps the difference between me and you is that I have lived in a non-free society, and you haven’t.”

American capitalism is easily caricatured as the celebration of the accumulation of wealth as the highest goal in life and as raising selfishness to an ideal. But both claims are just that – caricatures. The noble yeoman, the family farmer, was the social ideal of the Jeffersonian champions of individual liberty. And in our own day, that social ideal has become the small businessman, the inventor, and enterpreneur, those who create wealth, produces jobs, and are involved in developing products to improve the quality of life, not the Wall Street hedge-fund manager. Many of those areas where the insistence on individual autonomy remains strongest are among the poorer regions in America.

Far from celebrating selfishness, the most famous passages in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, published the same year as the Declaration of Independence, describe the interdependence of different artisans and the mutual benefit each one bestows on the other while pursuing his individual gain. Those states in which attachment to the values described above remain strongest – the so-called red states – are also the states with the highest rates of charitable contributions and volunteer activities.

Nevertheless, free market capitalism can degenerate into a social Darwinian survival of the fittest if not tempered by other values. Last week’s Torah reading, Behar, provides a guide. One the one hand, it is a celebration of freedom. The Jubilee year, in which every servant went free and each man returned to his portion of the Land, explicitly proclaims that servitude is a degraded state, for G-d took us out of Egypt to be servants to Him and not to other flesh and blood.

At the same time, the Torah stresses our responsibility for those less fortunate. If a close relative is forced to sell a portion of his ancestral homestead, help him redeem it; if he sells himself into servitude, and even more so if it is to an idol worshipper, redeem him; if your fellow Jew needs a loan, provide it without interest. Our responsibility for those less fortunate than we is predicated on the recognition that nothing is ultimately ours. Thus we cannot alienate our portion of the Land in perpetuity to remind us that it belongs to G-d and is only entrusted to us.

These Torah passages are not unfamiliar in those parts of America where support for Israel is strongest. Besides being the most freedom-loving areas of America, they are also the most religious.

Ever since the pilgrims, American exceptionalism has been predicated on a view of America as a chosen land, modeled on the land given long ago to the Jews.

Jonathan Rosenblum founded Jewish Media Resources in 1999. He is a widely-read columnist for theJerusalem Post’s domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.

Project Amanda links American Jewish kids with Israelis

Project Amanda, whose objective is to link thousands of Jewish children in the U.S. with children in Israel is launching this week from temples in the Northeast United States.

Project Amanda is a fun, exciting and educational program which uses the Internet in real time to have children talk see and share their lives.

Using Skype, the children in Israel and in the U.S. discuss a variety of values and topics including what a typical day is like in school, family, friends, shopping, playing, food, clothes, money, Judaism, politics, vacations, weather, toys, computer games and pets.