I have, in my series of essays on France, argued that the French attitude towards Israel is self destructive, that it opens the door to Eurabia’s deadly embrace, that it punishes friends and rewards enemies. This, of course is not uniquely French, it buzzes through Europe at high energy levels. People, especially people on the left, have passionately negative attitudes towards Israel: Israel Derangement Syndrome.
One sees it also in the USA, with the Mearsheimer-Walt paper.
This second-rate job by highly placed academics on the “American Israel Lobby,” essentially argues for a French foreign policy towards the Arab world. The council of Eurabia, quite as morally vapid as any banal evil, counsels the obvious: our interests lie with an alliance with the Arabs and their petrol dollars, and Israel, while useful during the Cold War, now holds us down in the pursuit of our national interest.
The authors document what they call “unstinting support” of Israel, and then ask what could justify such support?
This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. But neither explanation is convincing. One might argue that Israel was an asset during the Cold War. By serving as America’s proxy after 1967, it helped contain Soviet expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like Egypt and Syria. It occasionally helped protect other US allies (like King Hussein of Jordan) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more on backing its own client states. It also provided useful intelligence about Soviet capabilities.
Backing Israel was not cheap, however, and it complicated America’s relations with the Arab world. For example, the decision to give $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an Opec oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies. For all that, Israel’s armed forces were not in a position to protect US interests in the region. The US could not, for example, rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised concerns about the security of oil supplies, and had to create its own Rapid Deployment Force instead.
It is a work of admirable Eurabian logic, which suggests that the Jews are an impediment to the more “rational” alliance with the Arab world. Indeed, they argue, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.
The lack of understanding imbedded in such thinking suggest an impressive moral obtuseness. The layers of “othering” the Israelis – we have nothing but calculated ties between us – and “saming” the Muslims — an alliance with them is as good as an alliance with the Israelis — necessary to come to their conclusions, suggest a cultural illiteracy that only a post-Saïdian world could produce.
The terrorist organisations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or ‘the West’; it is largely a response to Israel’s prolonged campaign to colonise the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This logic replicates perfectly the logic of both European appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s (give them Czechoslovakia and they’ll be satisfied), and the al Durah alliance that has worked so brilliantly for the French over the last half-decade. We sell out Israel and our Jews, dedicated allies and participants in our democracies, to pacify nations and people who despise and fear us, and will turn on us whenever we displease them, as in the Danish Cartoon affair. An alliance with them is as good as one with the Jews.
After all, they only hate the Jews and not us; indeed they only hate us because we support the Jews. And if we turn on the Jews, they will appreciate and respect us for selling out our friends and embracing our enemies.
The big difference between the USA and Europe, is that here we still have a sufficiently independent and lively intellectual community, that the piece, with all its shoddy scholarship and infantile logic, gets a thorough critique, even from people who are not known for their pro-Israel attitudes. In Europe, this kind of stuff dominates public discourse.
As Pierre-André Taguieff puts it, “When all the fishes swim in the same direction, it’s because they’re dead.”