The argument that the U.S. and the west are finally undertaking the war Israel has been fighting for years is of course a major theme of pro-Israel commentary post Paris. Militant Israeli policies re Palestinian resistance are being offered as a role model to the west; and the Palestinian political party Hamas is being put on the same plane as ISIS– a longstanding propaganda claim of the Israeli prime minister, or as long as ISIS has been in the news.
Hillary Clinton echoed that point in her Council on Foreign Relations speech yesterday:
In September I laid out a comprehensive plan to counter Iranian influence across the region and its support for terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas. We cannot view Iran and ISIS as separate challenges. Regional politics are too interwoven. Raising the confidence of our Arab partners and raising the costs to Iran for bad behavior will contribute to a more effective fight against ISIS.
And as we work out a broader regional approach, we should of course be closely consulting with Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East
Clinton is surely mindful of the views of the big Democratic donor Haim Saban, who gave an interview yesterday saying Muslims must be subject to “more scrutiny,” and that Clinton is “absolutely made of steel and she will take no baloney from no ISIS.” Meanwhile on NPR, Andrea Bernstein defended Clinton’s “cautiously hawkish” positions by saying that the Republicans are a lot more bellicose– so she can’t be that bad.
The result: they defend vaguer, slower, thinner versions of policies urged by Republicans. Until they recognize that foreign policy sets the limits of domestic policy, they will never compete with the exigent reasons a party for war can manufacture with the greatest of ease. A halfway intelligent US policy toward the Middle East and Israel won’t be possible until this larger political imbalance is corrected.
And we stand shoulder to shoulder, committed to defend our common civilization.
It’s difficult for civilized men and women to recognize that our cities, our airways, sometimes our waterways are prowled by beasts that devour the innocent in their way. And the forces of civilization, when they realize the severity of this problem, have no option but to unite very clearly and defeat these beasts.
The argument is parroted by Gerald Skolnik, the head of a Jewish center in Queens, in the Jewish Week. He wonders why the west never resolved to bomb Hamas and the PLO “into oblivion.”
It is certainly true that ISIS has been a thorn in the side of the civilized world since its inception, and has displayed an almost incomprehensible cruelty with its kidnappings and beheadings…. It richly deserves to be bombed into oblivion, and beyond,
But is Hamas less cruel? Or Hezbollah? Or, for that matter, their godparent, the PLO?…
At the end of the piece, he says that Israelis are “us,” because his Israelis are Jews of course:
Even as we grieve with Paris and her citizens, it’s important to remember that Israelis have been stabbed on streets, shot in cars, and assaulted on mass transit in Jerusalem and around Israel for weeks now, and none of the West’s major powers have done more than utter tepid condemnations. Yes, grieve for France. But the perspective of a wider lens is called for: one that includes us.
Finally, what about this in Hillary Clinton’s speech. Doesn’t it apply to Israel as much as to Syria?
we have indicated a willingness to work with [Russia] toward an outcome that preserves Syria as a unitary nonsectarian state with protections for the rights of all Syrians, and to keep key state institutions intact.
And there was this comment on the Arab Spring. Many of these explosive conditions exist in Israeli-controlled Palestine as well
I spoke about the foundations of the region sinking into the sand just as the Arab Spring was breaking. And I did so not knowing about the Arab Spring coming to full bloom, but because it was so clear that what was being done by dictatorships, by the denial of opportunity, by the repression, by the sectarian divide just could not stand. It was going to explode at some point or another.