The Israel Lobby’s Mideast Mess

Recent events in the Middle East make it clear that the ill-conceived and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 created a serious, lasting mess in the region and badly bruised the Western world in the process. Unfortunately, the neoconservatives, who provoked and wholeheartedly backed that war, never learned their lesson or faced any consequences for that disaster.

I’m no great military thinker, but back in October 2002 I put my money where my mouth was and financed a political biweekly magazine starring Pat Buchanan, who is as great a conservative thinker as this country has ever had. The point of founding The American Conservative was to try and stop the war against Saddam Hussein, whose country could not have developed a tricycle, let alone weapons of mass destruction poised to wipe out Washington D.C. and London.

Pat and I held a press conference in Washington D.C., where The American Conservative’s first editor, Scott McConnell, insisted on basing the fortnightly. The questions we received and the people asking them would not exactly have been welcome in, say, Edith Wharton’s salon, but were par for the course for the left-wing journalists in the audience. Not that we didn’t expect it. Pat has a great sense of humor. When one of the lowlifes tried to paint him as a hypocrite for being critical of immigration while going into business with me, a Greek immigrant, he responded that I had not illegally crossed the Rio Grande on foot, but the Atlantic, and on my father’s yacht.

Of course Pat’s wit did not please the left-wing hacks, but what really drove them mad was his reference to my unearned wealth. I defended myself by pointing out how my father had revived an ailing Virginia shipyard by employing it to build what was the U.S.’s largest tanker ship at the time. He had named another ship the General Patton, to honor the great U.S. general. Still, the hacks were not well pleased with the creation of a conservative antiwar magazine and demanded to know whether Saudi money was behind it. I was about to answer that they should not associate me with that god-awful piece of desert just because the reporter asking the question had a mother on the payroll of some Saudi, but Pat stopped me. “They hate us enough as it is,” he said.

Leftist journalists aside, the ones really against us were those aligned with the all-powerful Israeli Lobby, like Bush administration cogs Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, and other neoconservatives in the media, like Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and Commentary Editor Norman Podhoretz—all of the above are ethnically Jewish and likely harbored some bias in favor of Israel.

Well, we all know the results of George W.’s “Mission Accomplished,” as he was pleased to call one of America’s worst mistakes. Bush’s Iraq disaster has had negative consequences ever since. Despite allegedly going to war to spread liberal democratic values, the United States no longer holds the moral high ground it had after the fall of the Soviet Union. Americans are seen instead as morally repugnant capitalists exploiting weaker people in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Even worse, as I write from Europe, it is becoming increasingly common here for people who are not motivated by anti-Semitism to express sympathy for Hamas. How can that be? Well, if you place people in refugee camps and occupy their lands and homes for more than 80 years, there’s bound to be a sympathetic reaction no matter who they are, and the beneficiaries of that reaction are bound to be extremists. Hamas and Oct. 7, 2023 are the result.

Without American support, Israel long ago would have come to a peaceful resolution concerning the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli Lobby has ensured American support, no matter how extreme the actions of Israeli religious fanatics become. Israel’s religious right has run wild ever since 1995, when one of them assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was trying to make peace with the Palestinians. 

The reaction of the Palestinians is seen in the West as terrorism, but it has to be viewed in light of more than 80 years of occupation and the repeated derailment of the peace process by fanatics. 

Washington has opposed recognition of a Palestinian state for decades, arguing that it should only be achieved through negotiations with Israel. This old policy that the Israeli Lobby has forced on successive American administrations needs to be reversed.

Uncle Sam has to put his foot down and read the riot act to the Israeli Lobby. America should force through a peace deal, reminding Israel that it is for its own well-being and for the benefit of all concerned. 

I was a friend of Rabin’s widow, Leah, who has now passed away. She was an Israeli, born and bred, and widow to a great Israeli general and prime minister. According to her, the real problem was not the Palestinians, but Israel’s religious nuts. ◆

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