Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is Israel off limits?

I used to think speech was free in this country. I'm beginning to question that. Since when is it actually acceptable in this country for people to control what may be discussed in university classrooms? Especially at a time when our policies toward ALL Middle-Eastern countries deserve more analysis, and not less?

I've written about disproportionate support for Israel in the past, so apparently I'm already out of line. Here's an exemplary ad from David Horowitz' far-right Front Page mag:
  • First, here's the Hannity-ese "Undermining," as if the neutral observations people make about history are an attempt to subvert.
  • This ad clearly takes "America's Support for Israel" as a given, as if it can and should be no other way.
And what kind of nonsense do you find on the linked page?
  • "Daily Kos, blah blah blah Joe Lieberman, posted an item headed, 'Imagine a world without Israel.' The subhead read, 'Or is that not allowed?' This kind of hate-Israel sentiment..."-- Why is that title or subhead automatically assumed to be "hate" for Israel? Israel was created only 60 years ago, wedged into Palestine by the US and the UK. Given that, I don't find it hard to imagine a world without Israel since it used to be that wayless than a century ago! Typical right-wing distortion: Observations do not equal attacks. The fact that I can remember the point in history when Israel did not exist does not imply that I hate Israel or that I hate Jews.
  • The cover of The Washington Post's magazine last Sunday was headlined, "Is the Israel Lobby Too Powerful?" The idea that Bush-Cheney-Rice and Rumsfeld are manipulated by a bunch of second and third tier Jews in the Administration... -- Let's not kid ourselves here. The AIPAC is widely known to be quite influential, and given some of W's comments when addressing them, it would be rather insulting to consider them "a bunch of second and third tier Jews." After all, as observed in the linked article, "Every two years, AIPAC offers each new member of Congress a trip to Israel for a week to 10 days." What is being bought with THAT trip?
  • The David Horowitz Freedom Center is dedicated to combating these lies and defending America and Israel, the two pillars of Judaeo-Christian values and freedom in the world today.-- This statement illustrates why the Christian Right's influence on the Republican Party is so dangerous to America. That we should defend ourselves needs no clarification; that we should have an interest in Israel because of its Democracy isn't too controversial. But support for their "Judeo-Christian values"--coming from a country that professes freedom of religion--sounds conspicuously like a clash of worldviews with Islam, which the "war on terror" is not. First, it's not a war; second, we're fighting extremists who are willing to stop at nothing to take revenge for Israel's creation and support, not an entire worldview. This--the lack of clarity about our mission--is why the malleable, vague and somewhat double-entendre terminology used by the Administration (and in some cases, holding special meaning to Christians versus the population at large) is so dangerous.
Sadly, one must go outside the mainstream media for a clear discussion of the Lobby's influence on our policy, and of the true meaning of vague cliches such as "enemies of freedom." Jean Birchmont insightfully observes:
Americans are constantly told that they have to defend themselves against
people who "hate them", but without understanding why they are hated.
A high-profile article was published by noted author James Bamford recently in Rolling Stone, which considered in depth the interest neo-conservatives had in invading Iraq--interest that became influential in the "Office of Special Plans"--and the interest they still have in pushing us toward conflict with Iran. Given the bevvy of sources reporting their behind-the-scenes activities, it's time we take a clear look at the Lobby without the mindless rhetoric of the far right.

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