Sullivan says passionate American supporters of Israel create a ‘problem,’ conflating interests

Israel/PalestineUS Politics

A reader asked Andrew Sullivan why he decided to weigh into the Israel firster debate.

He says that some American supporters of Israel are so passionate and defensive that it’s a “problem” of conflating interests. 

“There comes a point at which that passion leads to a view where there can never be any distinction between American interests and Israeli interests.” When in fact there are thousands of miles between the U.S. and Israel. Israel is a liability, an albatross, Sullivan says.

“Israeli government is clearly orchestrating and is in close contact with a whole bunch of people, range of people inside the U.S. to make their case…” Sullivan wants to cut out the Israel firster language but he addresses the crucial question here: When Sheldon Adelson says that it was unfortunate that he wore an American uniform and not an Israeli uniform, then we are seeing an attachment to Israel on the part of an American political player that is obscuring American interests. (Hard to see why, given his understanding, Israel firster is not legitimate political rhetoric.)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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13 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    February 3, 2012, 11:50 am

    Israel an albatross — terrific phrase — and all so unnecessary — just withdraw from west bank (entirely) (settlers and army). Let Obama know how you feel, at

    ( YOU MUST CORRECT STATE, ZIP, and BZIP to get your OWN Congressperson and senators.

    • teta mother me
      February 3, 2012, 12:40 pm

      afraid you’re trying to fight a raging fire with three cups of tea, pabelmont.
      The Withdraw from West bank solution might have worked 10 years ago . . .

      what is your solution for the entrenchment of Israel lobby in US politics?

      sorry, not impressed w/ Sullivan’s “brave” statement.
      He’s upset with attacks on CAP but not upset with punishments unjustly being meted out on Iran.
      well, maybe Sullivan did some good with this statement, Yes, it does matter & it’s necessary to point this out . So good on you Sullivan, but get the facts — FACTS straight on Iran, ‘kay?

  2. Citizen
    February 3, 2012, 11:56 am

    Ah, that old negative “passionate attachment” to a foreign country that George Washington warned us about in his Farewell Message. How’s this for some passionate attachment displayed by a “pro-Israel advocate” (that’s OK, but not “Israel Firster”):
    “Pro-Israel advocate” knocks Alison Weir’s camera across room at CNI press conference as (long hidden) aid to Israel issue heats up in taxpayer-strapped USA:

    Alison comments:

    • Justice Please
      February 3, 2012, 12:55 pm

      Brown Shirt tactics from Brown Shirt minds.

    • American
      February 3, 2012, 1:36 pm

      That is at least the 5th or 6th account I’ve read this year about some zio or christian fundie attacking someone.
      I don’t care how much trouble it is, people should start filing assault charges against these crazies.
      They are going to be or already are like the Israeli settlers crew.

    • seafoid
      February 3, 2012, 3:08 pm

      Alison Weir’s blog headlines with “Analysis on Israel, Palestine, and the American connection. I am not the British historian. Please stop threatening her.”

      Zionist thuggery goes back a long way.

  3. Kathleen
    February 3, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Good for Sullivan.

    Former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Kathleen and Bill Christison, Dr. Zbig and others have been saying for years that this claim that Israel and the US’s national security needs are one and the same are a myth and very dangerous.

    Ouch… Sullivan addresses Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons as a fact . Too bad he does that
    Sullivan “and indeed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons”

  4. American
    February 3, 2012, 12:35 pm

    ”There comes a point at which that passion leads to a view where there can never be any distinction between American interests and Israeli interests.”

    I think Sullivan is ‘keeping it civil’ in explaining instead of condemning those who have this Israel attachment. He says things like passion ‘leads to a view’ of no distinction in US and Israeli interest, as a way of sort of soft pedaling people’s responsibility for seperating their passions from reality and intelligent thought. It is true their passion leads them to this view, but it is also true if they have a I.Q. above that of a cabbage they know better on some level.

    Instead of saying Aldeson doesn’t give a rip about US interest he says his actions ‘obscure’ US interest. I think Sullivan does what W&M did to some extent in The Israel Lobby, for different reasons, he defuses the bomb before he throws it so some people won’t run away from it and also because he doesn’t want to do too much damage to Israel.

    But if he can’t get over the Israel-firster hump he isn’t all the way there yet. Maybe he fears Israel firster will be applied to those whose emotions have turned them into cabbages instead of just the Aldeson types or maybe he fears the description Israel first will add more fuel to the calls for America first and eventually put Israel out in the cold.
    But at least he says something, so he gets credit.

    • seafoid
      February 3, 2012, 2:14 pm

      Sullivan is a US imperialist. Regime change in Iran FFS. Why doesn’t the US get out of the Middle East and give the local people the chance to order their own future ? What does the US understand about the region anyway ?

  5. MRW
    February 3, 2012, 5:28 pm

    Israel Firster is not an insult. Neither is America Firster, or Cuba Firster. Etcetera.

    I will not be stopped, intimidated, or tried, by language police who seek to impute a meaning to it that does not exist.

    Sullivan is being too cute by half in waving that he would never use the phrase, echoing something Greenwald wrote (which Sullivan grabs onto like a kid behind the back of a bus in a blizzard). Sullivan only had the courage to come out from behind the PEP Israel curtains since Greenwald drew them and let in the light over two years ago. Sullivan is a valuable voice, nonetheless.

    But, why wouldn’t Sullivan use that phrase? It’s robust and descriptive, and typical American vernacular. It describes a truth.

  6. Citizen
    February 3, 2012, 5:43 pm

    If you listen carefully, Sullivan draws a moral equation (equal lack of responsibility?) between those who call someone an “anti-Semite” at the drop of a hat, and those who use the term “Israel Firster.”

    Local Fox news just told us all that Iran is developing a missile that will reach the USA, and Israel thinks it’s needed to attack Iran before summer.

    Romney said recently that there “not an inch” between America and Israel. Actually, how many miles is it? Sullivan just needs to finish his logical thought train. Why is it not PC to state “America First?” But all you need is to state “Pro-Israel” to be admitted into the civilized world? Pat B anyone?

  7. chet
    February 3, 2012, 7:49 pm

    With the premise that Israel unilaterally attacks Iran, it would seem to follow that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz and it would, together with its proxies, unleash missiles on Israel itself – given this scenario, the US military would seem to be obliged to support Israel in the air and at sea.

    All US vessels in the Persian Gulf ( a “pond” in terms of anti-ship weapons) would come under attack by weapons FOR WHICH THE USN HAS NO DEFENCE.

    If a carrier group was trapped in the Persian Gulf and came under fire from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these weapons, the death toll could be greater than that of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

    Who would the howls of American outrage be directed against? It seems self-evident: The Israelis and their American instigators, i.e., “Israel-firsters”.

    If this scenario ever played out … (heaven forbid!)… previously-expressed concerns about increasing anti-Semitism would seem as nothing.

    • MRW
      February 4, 2012, 7:31 am

      Thanks for the link, Chet. Gaffney writes about a 2004 Naval event that Bloomberg News covered, quoting US naval officers who said essentially the same thing: we have nothing to counter the Sunburn, or the Onyx.

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