Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Using a Sledgehammer to Swat a Fly

March 6th, 2019

Congress is on the brink of voting on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, intended as a rebuke to Representative Ilhan Omar, who questioned why it is “okay” for powerful lobbying groups “to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” meaning Israel, compounding her previous sin of criticizing the influence on Capitol Hill of the American Israel Public Action Committee.  As a sop to even-handedness, language has been added to the resolution also decrying anti-Muslim bias, but the clear motivation is to slap down Rep. Omar.

As a Jew who frequently doubts whether Israel deserves the level of support it receives from the United States, I have written to my Representative, the excellent and honorable Peter Welch, urging that he abstain from voting on the resolution.  The fact is that Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs is brutal, discriminatory, oppressive, and often and in many ways violative of international law.  By referring to an age-old canard that American Jews have divided loyalties, Rep. Omar chose a tactless way of challenging our government’s reflexive support for Israel; but dissenting on policy, which is what she intended, is a far different thing from embracing bigotry against Jews.  A newcomer to the national stage, Rep. Omar needs to learn to express herself in a more acceptable manner.  On the other hand, the House needs to consider the substantive merits of what she has to say, and not to react in such a hysterical, extreme manner as to drive home the very point that Rep. Omar is making.

An open letter to President Obama about Iran

March 10th, 2012

Iranian Queen, about 500 B.C.E.

Dear President Obama,
I am distressed to read reports that the United States is considering Israel’s request to provide it with armaments to destroy Iran’s hardened nuclear facilities.  The request should have been rejected outright.  Despite suspicions, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that Iran is engaged in making a nuclear weapon.  Even if Iran were doing so, the existence of such a weapon would not pose an existential threat to Israel, which has sufficient capacity of its own to render any attack suicidal.  Nor would the existence of such a weapon pose any threat at all to the United States, for similar reasons.  Slanderous allegations to the contrary, Iran’s government is not insane, and is unlikely to make nuclear weapons technology available to terrorists, knowing as well as anybody that what goes around comes around.  The thousands and thousands of Irani innocents who would die and be injured as a proximate result of an Israeli or American attack, the others who would be injured and would die as the result of Iran’s legally justifiable actions in self defense, the environmental devastation to Iran and beyond, the catastrophic impact upon the world economy, all speak against encouraging Israeli bellicosity.  There is nothing to gain, except perhaps a temporary disruption of Irani developments in nuclear technology, and incalculably much to lose.  In this case, as in many others, the Israeli right-wing government’s conception of its interest is contrary to the national interest of America, not congruent with it.  Prime Minister Netanyahu should have been slapped down when he said “You are us.”  No we’re not.  (I’m Jewish, by the way, for what it’s worth.  An American Jew.)  “I have your back, no matter what” is nice language for the schoolyard, and it sounds good in buddy movies, and I can understand the political calculations that make it an attractive thing to say to AIPAC, but it is inconsistent with your primary responsibility to safeguard American lives, property, and national interest.  It is most certainly not consistent with these goals to launch unprovoked wars of aggression in unstable parts of the world, as George Bush found out to all of our chagrin.

Sincerely,

Seth Steinzor