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Glenn Greenwald on “Israel-centric” Neocons

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I just got hold of a copy of Glenn Greenwald‘s new book, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good Vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. Greenwald is a leftlib blogger/lawyer and has a mind like a steel trap: fiercely logical. I just glanced at the book; but I’m pleased to read his discussion of the neocons’ agenda, for he frankly states what I also have: Israel is central to the neocons’ thinking and their push for war conflated American and Israeli interests:

There may (or may not) be a compelling argument to make that the U.S. should view terrorist attacks on Israel as attacks on the U.S. There may (or may not) be a compelling argument to make that because Israel is an ally of the United States, America should be willing to wage war against countries that sponsor terrorist attacks on Israel…If there are valid arguments for deeming Israel’s enemies to be enemies of the U.S., then they should be made explicitly and clearly..

From its inception, the campaign to depict and treat Iran as pure, unadulterated Evil has been driven by this manipulative and dishonest attempt to conflate Iran’s posture toward Israel with its posture toward the U.S. Whether the president himself was a victim of that manipulation or a knowing propagator of it is something one can debate, and the truth likely lies somewhere in between. But what is beyond dispute is the centrality of Israel and its right-wing American supporters in shaping the president’s moralistic and absolutist view of Iran..

[I]f Americans are being induced to support wars not in American interest but in Israel’s, and if American lives and treasure are being squandered in wars justified by false premises, by a hidden agenda, they will realize that at some point…When the realization begins to dawn that at least one substantial factor as to why America waged Middle Eastern war(s) is because influential individuals with an overarching devotion to Israel pushed for war against Israel’s enemies, then an anti-Israeli backlash is highly likely to occur. And the backlash is likely to be far more severe and hostile than anything that would ever happen naturally, meaning in the absence of such manipulation…

Greenwald’s argument is important. Greenwald is an influential lib blogger. He is not a conservative or a libertarian (the camps where Todd Gitlin claims the Israel-motivation-for-Iraq theory is perpetrated). Also, I am guessing Greenwald is Jewish, as I am; and so he is demonstrating just what I have called for: for the liberal Jewish community to identify the hidden agenda among conservative Jewish supporters of the Iraq war and repudiate it.

Like it or not, Jews have a special place in this conversation. We are all over the media, we are involved with the Israel lobby. When Greenwald talks about some people’s "overarching devotion" to Israel,  he has special cultural insight into this, as I do. No, he doesn’t go as far as I do; no, he doesn’t speak openly of the neocons as mostly Jewish, something we all know to be true. And he ascribes greater power to rightwing evangelical Christians than I do…

But he is making it clear that in the aftermath of a disastrous mistake in Iraq, these issues are fair game.  My friend Dan Fleshler doesn’t like this conversation, it touches on ancient antisemitic claims. What I would tell him as a Jew is that leftleaning American Jews must engage this conversation. And some of us are doing so now, with Greenwald’s fierce honesty. We will not be party to a hidden agenda!

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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