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The neocons have finally snapped

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The Obama administration provides more foreign aid to Israel than to any other countryby MJ Rosenberg

Any doubt we might have that the Israeli right has lost its mind should be eliminated by the latest column from one of its most prominent media figures, Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post.

Glick, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, has flipped out over some remarks (which we'll get to later) made last week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, and Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman. And here is how she explains those remarks.

 Her first explanation is that "the Obama administration is an ideological echo chamber in which only certain positions are permitted".

"Restrained by ideological thought police that outlaw critical thought about the dominant forces in the Islamic world today, US officials have little choice but to place all the blame for everything that goes wrong on the one society they are free to criticise - Israel."

That, in itself, borders on hilarious.

Blaming Israel

Anyone who pays even a modicum of attention to the Middle East knows that rather than "place all the blame for everything" on Israel, the Obama administration blames Israel for nothing while providing more foreign aid to Israel than to any other country, supporting it on every issue at the United Nations - often against the US' own interests - and never, ever attaching any conditions to our aid or support (as we do with every other country in the world).

The only thing President Obama has asked of Israel during his entire term is for a three-month settlement freeze, to which Israel said no. (Prime Minister Netanyahu himself says Obama has earned a "badge of honour" for his uncritical support for Israel.)

It is Glick's second explanation of the Obama administration's attitude toward Israel that demonstrates the mindset of those whose ardor for maintaining the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza trumps the security of Israel. Get ready.

"The second possible explanation for the administration's treatment of Israel is that it is permeated by anti-Semitism. The outsized responsibility and culpability placed on Israel by the likes of Obama, Clinton, Panetta and Gutman is certainly of a piece with classical anti-Semitic behavior."

They are anti-Semites! Who would have thought?

Not only are Obama, Panetta and Clinton anti-Semites, but they are, she writes, from the "classical" school (by which she means, I guess, that their antipathy toward Jews comes from reading The Merchant of Venice and Oliver Twist).

I'll leave Gutman out for now because he is Jewish, which means that he cannot be a "classical" anti-Semite.

I am not going to address the absurdity of calling any of these people anti-Semites, a term that refers not (take note, Abe Foxman) to disagreeing with policies of the state of Israel, but to disliking Jews, discriminating against them, and, at worst, doing them bodily harm.

Disliking Israel or its policies does not make one anti-Semitic any more than disliking Saudi Arabia or its policies makes one anti-Muslim.

Yes, some people who dislike Israel and/or its policies are anti-Semitic, but, by the same token, so are many (in the Christian right, in particular) who profess love for Israel and defend every one of its policies.

Of course, none of the people Glick calls anti-Semitic are remotely anti-Israel, let alone anti-Semitic.

Under President Obama, strategic military cooperation between Israel and the US has reached an all-time high; even Obama-hater and neocon Elliot Abrams agrees.

'Unshakeable bond' with Israel

Secretary of Defence Panetta said last week that the US' "unshakeable bond" with Israel is the first of the "three pillars" on which US policies in the Middle East stand and will remain so as long as he is Defence Secretary.

As for Secretary of State Hillary, her support for Israel and for progressive and Jewish causes during her years as First Lady, senator from New York, and now Secretary of State has made her one of the most popular political figures in the American Jewish community.

Anti-Semites!

Glick reminds me of the truth of philosopher August Bebel's statement that "anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools". If he were alive today and read Glick and other neocons like her, he'd surely say that "invoking anti-Semitism is the Zionism of fools".

But enough about Glick.

What about those statements by administration figures that got the neocons so bent out of shape?

First, there was Panetta's.

According to neocon blogger (and Caroline Glick sidekick) Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, Panetta was being "antagonistic" to Israel when he said that Israel's security would be enhanced if it would "reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability - countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan. This is an important time to be able to develop and restore those key relationships in this crucial area".

As Rubin - an ardent and outspoken Mitt Romney supporter - explains, calling on Israel to "reach out" was typical of Panetta's view that everything bad in the Middle East is "Israel's fault" when, as she continuously argues, absolutely nothing is.

Then there was Hillary, who decried the effort in Israel to ban international funding for progressive Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organisations) that work in Israel on democracy building, civil rights, protecting minorities, environmental issues, and gay and women's issues, to name a few.

Hillary pointed out that she goes around the world promoting acceptance of NGOs and their empowerment, and the Israeli right was trying to shut them down with the support of the Netanyahu government.

The right-wing Commentary website called Hillary's remarks an "anti-Israel" broadside, although thankfully not classical anti-Semitism. Of course, that would require calling the Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitic, because it shares Hillary's views on the NGO law.

I'll devote the least space to Ambassador Gutman's remark because, although it stirred the most outrage among the usual suspects, the hysteria is transparently ridiculous.

Gutman's truth-telling

Gutman said that what he calls Muslim anti-Semitism "stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians". This rather obvious statement caused a brouhaha because, as Jeff Goldberg tells us, anti-Semitism comes from the air and is in no way connected to anything Israel does.

Goldberg writes: "Jews do not cause anti-Semitism; blacks do not cause racism; gays do not cause homophobia. Hatred is a mental and spiritual illness, not a political position."

Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, as Israeli writer Yossi Gurvitz points out.

Muslim-baiting in this country stems from the misconception that Muslims, as a people, were responsible for 9/11. Anti-Japanese hysteria in the US reached fever pitch because of Pearl Harbour. And Muslim antipathy toward Jews is, as everyone knows, directly connected to the history of Palestine since the Zionist movement began.

We may not like it. We may wish it wasn't so. But all it takes is talking to a Muslim (whether from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia or anywhere else) to discover that yes, the displacement of the Palestinians is at the root of any antipathy that exists. (Much like Israeli antipathy toward Palestinians has something to do with terrorism.)

The good news is that Gutman's truth-telling is not costing him his job - a sign, I guess, that the classical anti-Semites are really in charge!

It's insane. But less insane than this crowd's current big project: war with Iran.

Question: If Israel bombs Iran, how will Jeff Goldberg explain the world's rage toward Israel? Will fury over the attack stem from the fact that it plunged the region into war and crashed the world economy or will it just be another result of some "mental or spiritual illness"?

You know the answer.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Media Matters Action Network. This article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

Follow him on twitter: @MJayRosenberg


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