America Adopts the Israel Paradigm by Philip Giraldi

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I guess Giraldi never heard of our SHARED VALUES!


Thursday, 05 July 2012 11:05

America Adopts the Israel Paradigm

Written by Philip Giraldi

I recently read a fascinating article by Scott McConnell, “The Special Relationship With Israel: Is It Worth the Cost?,” which appeared in the spring 2012 Middle East Policy Council Journal.
Even for those of us who have closely followed the issue of Israel’s
asymmetrical relationship with the United States, Scott provides some
unique insights. He observes, for example, that the result of the
“special relationship” between the United States and Israel has been the
wholesale adoption of Israeli policies and viewpoints by Washington’s
policymakers and pundits. As Scott puts it, there exists “a transmission
belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct
itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent,
a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and
their country’s role in it through Israel’s eyes.”

I would add that Israel has not only shaped America’s perceptions, it
has also supported policies both overseas and domestically that have
fundamentally shifted how the United States sees itself and how the rest
of the world sees the United States. This is most evident in failed
national security policies, damaging interactions with the Muslim world,
and the loss of basic liberties at home because of legislation like the
PATRIOT Act. Israel and its powerful lobby have been instrumental in
entangling Washington in a constant state of war overseas while at the
same time planting the seeds for a national security state at home. In
short, the end product of the relationship is that the United States has
abandoned many liberties, constitutional restraints, and its rule of
law to become more like Israel.

This all came about initially because of the false impression that
somehow Israel knew more about the Arab world than did U.S. statesmen
and diplomats. The Israelis were widely perceived as experts on what was
going on in their backyard, but a more correct interpretation would
have been that Tel Aviv was working hard right from the beginning to
produce a negative perception of Arabs and their ways. American
diplomats described as Arabists
actually had quite a good understanding of the countries they served
in, a vanished world in which the U.S. was welcomed and widely perceived
in the most positive terms. After the Second World War, nearly all Arab
countries were well-disposed toward the United States, and before the
creation of Israel, the U.S. had only friends in the region. After the
birth of Israel, Washington’s increasing tilt toward Tel Aviv meant that
Israel’s enemies inevitably became America’s enemies.

I can personally recall intelligence reports from the Israelis that
circulated through the U.S. government in the 1980s and 1990s. The
reports were always designed to cast doubts on Arab leaders and their
intentions while carefully avoiding any mention of the Israeli hand in
regional instability. Information from Israel was regarded as something
of a joke, never considered credible except by those in government who
were already on message. Even then it was not wise to be seen as too
critical of the Israeli relationship. And Israel had little else to
offer Washington beyond its line of self-serving propaganda. Ironically,
the reality was that Israeli leaders then and now did not treat the
United States as an ally at all. Jeff Stein cites a poll of CIA officers that ranked Israel “dead last” among friendly countries in intelligence cooperation with Washington.

As part of the evolutionary process to change Washington’s
perspective on the Middle East, politicians who criticized Israel found
themselves confronting well-funded opponents at reelection time, sending
the message that it was career-ending to do so. Meanwhile, the Arabists
in the State Department were weeded out with the pendulum swinging so far in the other direction that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv has abandoned much of its raison d’etre,
rarely making any attempt to protect American citizens who are being
mistreated or illegally confined by the Israeli government. By the time
of the Gaza flotillas, the Obama administration made it plain that
American citizen participants would receive no help
from the embassy and even implied that such individuals were little
more than criminals or terrorist dupes who might be prosecuted,
accepting the Israeli definition of any critic as ipso facto a terrorist.

Since the Clinton administration, every senior diplomat or official
dealing with the Middle East has had to pass through a vetting process
to ensure full support of and deference to Israeli interests. Chas
Freeman, who was named
to head the National Security Council in 2009, was quickly forced to
step down when it was determined that he was not sufficiently
pro-Israel. Since 2001, many senior appointees throughout the federal
government no longer make any effort to hide their strongly pro-Israel
sentiments; witness the ascent of Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, William
Boykin, and Eric Edelman at the Pentagon under George W. Bush.

The Israelization of the U.S. national security model entered a new
phase with 9/11, a disaster for America welcomed by Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as good news
because it would bind the two countries together in the fight against
what his country perceived as terrorism. In the first few days after
9/11, Congress invited Netanyahu to come to Washington to present his
“we are all targets” speech,
unleashing a flood of Israeli guidance on how to conduct the newly
minted War on Terror. This involved a “with us or against us” policy
toward all Islamic countries combined with enhanced security at home and
considerable infringements of civil liberties. In short, Israel and its
lobby, ably assisted by friends in Congress and the media, pushed the
United States into becoming more like Israel to defend itself against
what was essentially an overblown terrorist threat.

A book by Israeli Diaspora Minister Natan Sharansky was a potent symbol of the shift in American attitudes. The Case for Democracy began to make the rounds within the Bush administration with the president himself recommending it, stating that it provided a “glimpse of how I think about foreign policy.” Condi Rice was also seen reading the book and even quoted from it
in a Senate hearing. Sharansky, who claims to be a human rights
activist even though he has never accepted basic rights for
Palestinians, subsequently helped
Bush write his second inaugural address, with a bit of assistance from
leading neocons Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer. The address
pledged the United States to launch what was described as a “global
freedom mission.” Sharansky’s embrace of the democracy concept for the
entire world, particularly the Muslim part of it, has at its heart the
objective of encouraging Arabs to evolve into weak democracies riven by
tribalism and religious conflict. The Arabs would therefore be no threat
to Israel. That strategy was first developed in “A Clean Break,” a list of recommendations presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996 by a group of American neoconservatives.

By exploiting the influence of well-placed officials in the Pentagon,
Israel’s leaders began to see that the United States could become an
instrument for across-the-board regime change in the Arab world. The
first target was Iraq, which was supporting the families of Palestinians
killed on the West Bank and Gaza. Israel, in line with the Clean Break
strategy, sought to create a fragmented Iraqi state that would no longer
be a threat. The incessant Israeli drumbeat for war was not the only
element in the near hysteria that led to the attack on Saddam Hussein,
but it was the key enabling factor. If Israel had said no to the war and
had directed its friends in Congress and the media to support that
view, the war would not have happened.

Domestically, the imprint of Israel is also easy to find in the
spread of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, a phenomenon that
hardly existed even in the immediately aftermath of 9/11. Islamophobia
has become mainstream largely thanks to the work of a number of
commentators who, not coincidentally, are also the most outspoken
supporters of Israel. And the hatred has been institutionalized through
the creation of a number of projects and institutes, not to mention
websites and think tanks headed by Islamophobes
such as Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney, and Robert Spencer.
A number of pro-Israel resource centers emphasize the worst aspects of
Islam and attempt to portray the religion and culture in completely
negative terms. This perception has also spilled over into the political
arena. The arguments seek to make the U.S. conform to the Israeli view
of the Muslim world, and there are plenty of signs that they have had
considerable success. Christian Zionists have taken up the issue of the
evils of Islam. There have been suggestions that First Amendment rights and even citizenship should be denied to Muslims. Military academies and schools as well as the FBI have hosted training courses describing the evils of Islam. Also note the denunciations by Newt Gingrich of Shariah law and the denigration of Muslims in general by leading Republicans. Gingrich’s principal source of funds
was casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to Israeli causes
whose wife is Israeli. Adelson is now reported to be funding Mitt

So what has the tie that binds with Israel wrought? The U.S.
government has taken on Israel’s enemies as America’s enemies, including
resistance groups such as Hamas and states such as Iran. Nuanced
diplomacy is not possible and the U.S. national interest is no longer
relevant anywhere in the Middle East that Israel believes itself to have
a security problem. In one bizarre case, United States Sen. Mark Kirk
of Illinois actually sponsored
an amendment that would strip most Palestinian refugees of their legal
status. The amendment was reportedly drafted by Israeli politician Einat

Israeli pressure also leads Washington to engage in reckless behavior
such as the creation of the Stuxnet and Flame computer viruses, while
the extension of the War on Terror to include countries that had nothing
to do with 9/11, and to groups that do not directly threaten the U.S.,
is a perceived interest of Israel, not of the United States. It has made
numerous enemies unnecessarily and has also turned every American into a
target for terrorism.

Here at home, many of the passionate supporters of Israel, including
Sens. Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, are also advocates
of more government snooping in areas that were once regarded as
private. This is no coincidence, as supporting both Israel and the
growing police state appear to go together. The Transportation Security
Administration is modeled on Israeli border security, with its intrusive
searches and ability to engage in largely arbitrary behavior. There are
frequent demands from Congress to force the TSA to copy
exactly Israeli air travel security practices, including profiling and
prolonged interrogations of travelers. Indeed, many of the private
security companies operating in the United States, particularly relating
to air travel, are already Israeli. The PATRIOT Act also derives from
the Israeli model of limiting civil liberties in terrorism cases to
enable the police and security services to operate more freely.
Unlimited detention without charges for terrorism suspects, recently
introduced in the U.S. as part of the National Defense Appropriation Act
of 2013, is similar to Israeli practices when dealing with
Palestinians. In a step toward the “disloyal” second-class status afforded to Arab citizens of Israel, American Muslims have been singled out as enemies of the state by Rep. Peter King and others, a convenient label that also allows critics to indict their countries of origin as terrorist havens.

So we are Israel and Israel is us. Although the synergy has benefited
Israel in the short term in that it has enabled the Netanyahu
government to act with relative impunity, it is difficult to see what
Americans might have gained from the exchange apart from a now
well-established tradition of constant warfare against numerous enemies
overseas and diminished rights and the seeds of sectarian conflict
planted here at home.