Alterman: Likudniks take on the Jews

Eric Alterman on how neo-cons and Israel Firsters are attacking American Jewry for putting America's interests before Israel's:

Things can become a little confusing when the same neocons who insist it is ipso facto anti-Semitic to ask what role Israel plays in their calculations instruct American Jews that they are paying too much attention to their own country's best interests and not enough to Israel's. Writing in--of all places--The Weekly Standard, David Gelernter attacks American Jews for their "self-destructive nihilism" in remaining "fervent supporters of an American left that is increasingly unable or unwilling to say why Israel must exist." (This is nonsense about the vast majority of the left, of course, but ignore that for a moment.) Gelernter argues that "grassroots Democrats are increasingly dangerous to the Jewish state (not to mention the American state)." Note that the question of the "American state" is literally a mere parenthetical to Gelernter's principal concern--the well-being of Israel. Over at National Review's "The Corner," Mona Charen can be found making the same sneering argument. She calls American Jews "stubborn and downright stupid" because they "despise George W. Bush and will donate time and money to any Democrat in 2008, while Bush is indisputably the most pro-Israel president in the history of the United States." Again, it's highly "disputable," but never mind that. More to the point is the fact that Bush's presidency--a complete and utter failure by virtually any empirical measurement--is also deemed irrelevant. It's Israel alone that matters, according to these anti-American conservatives. (And woe unto American Jews when Christian America starts paying attention to their unpatriotic perfidy.)

What's most immediately worrisome about the neocons' long march through our institutions of government is the possibility that they may succeed a second time. According to Sidney Blumenthal's reporting in Salon, neocon staffers for Dick Cheney and the NSC's point man on the Middle East, Elliott Abrams (Norman Podhoretz's son-in-law), "have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries." They are looking, according to this NSC source, "to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war."

Four wars simultaneously? Led by this crew? After what we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it me, or are the people who run this country dangerously out of their minds?
Reminder to self: move to South America (but not too close to Castro or Chavez).
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.