L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 148, November 19, 2001
Rethinking America's Mid-east Policies
by Gail Jarvis
Special to TLE
Now, more than ever, we are experiencing the detrimental consequences of the 1947 formation of the United Nations. This new starry-eyed organization, financed by captive taxpayers, who had no voice in the matter, was a disastrous mistake. One of the UN's first official acts was creating an independent State of Israel by displacing Palestinians from their homeland. This was an illogical, emotional decision brought on by the Holocaust.
For the last 50 years the USA has provided more than 3 billion dollars a year in foreign aid to keep Israel propped up. In addition our nation has provided military weapons and technology as well as maintaining a military presence in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, all to safeguard Israel. An equal amount of foreign aid is sent to Egypt annually which columnist Richard Reeves has correctly called a bribe to discourage them from attacking Israel.
A common reason given to justify the propping up of Israel is that it is the only democratic country in the region. But in terms of population as well as landmass occupied, Israel is a negligible part of the Middle East. And surely no one is naive enough to think that this miniature country could convert Muslim nations to democratic ideals. And it is important to remember that the government of Israel, like the Taliban, punishes missionaries with jail sentences or worse for any attempt to convert Jews to Christianity.
Osama bin Laden and other Arab leaders who organize terrorist attacks against us have made it crystal clear that our continued meddling in the Middle East, specifically our unquestioning backing of Israel, is what prompts their attacks. And if we take out one terrorist leader another will take his place. So, after September 11th, we have seen an increase in articles and letters to newspapers questioning the wisdom of continued support of Israel as well as our overall Middle East policy. The common theme is that we are encouraging a war that cannot be won and, as a consequence, our own nation has been attacked and is at risk for future and more deadly attacks.
But there is another question that must be addressed; does the USA have the support of both Israeli and Diaspora Jews in its unequivocal protection of Israel?
The following trends might shed light on this question.
Bernard Wasserstein's book, Vanishing Diaspora, describes the declining numbers of European Jews since 1945; the main reason being the Holocaust. But European Jews have elected to produce fewer children, choose to be indifferent to orthodox religious observances and appear to be relatively unconcerned about maintaining cultural distinctiveness. Mr. Wasserstein makes the grim projection that European Jews will become virtually extinct as a significant element in European society over the course of the twenty-first century.
These same trends are affecting American Jews according to Charles Krauthammer's insightful article, At Last, Zion: Israel and the Fate of the Jews (The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998). Regarding the American Jewish community, Krauthammer says, ".it is now headed for catastrophic decline. The fertility rate among American Jews is 1.6 children per woman. The replacement rate (the rate required for the population to remain constant) is 2.1. The current rate is thus 20 percent below what is needed for zero growth".
In the United States today more Jews marry Christians than marry Jews. The intermarriage rate is 52 percent. In 1970 the rate was 8 percent. Also American Jews are becoming more secular and less likely to practice ancient Jewish religious and cultural traditions.
In a recent article, The Jewish State in America's Changing Demography, (Center for Immigration Studies), Dr. Stephen Steinlight of the American Jewish Committee made this statement; "Surveys also indicate that younger secular Jews are less and less enamored of or identify with Israel, and that Jewish affiliation with Jewish institutions, including synagogues and religious schools, continues to decline steadily. For many, even gastronomic Judaism is only a memory (sushi, burritos, and curry overwhelm deli). The Jewish content in the lives of most U.S. Jews consists of cheaply exploitative cinematic treatments of the Holocaust, gaudy, lavish and meaningless bar and bat mitzvahs that resemble sweet-16 parties, and television sitcoms in which ostensibly "Jewish" characters are universalized as if they were in witness protection programs."
In Israel itself there are growing movements questioning the feasibility of continuing an ongoing war with its fallout to maintain an independent State of Israel. College professors began this campaign some time ago but it is currently gaining support throughout Israel, especially from women and parents with young children. These groups essentially use what accountants call a "cost versus benefit analysis".
The "benefit" is of course having an Israeli state located on its original homeland and encompassing its ancient traditions. The "cost" is living in constant fear of terrorist attacks including neighborhood bombings, explosions on buses, in markets, restaurants and offices and the loss of lives. These Israeli groups have concluded that the benefit doesn't justify the cost and they would prefer to simply live and raise their families under peaceful conditions regardless of what the geographic location is called or what it signifies.
I think we can safely conclude that we do not have the overwhelming support both Israeli and Diaspora Jews in our financial and military bolstering of an independent State of Israel. But there is a small but very powerful segment of Jews who remain adamant. Again listen to Dr. Steinlight; "Jewish economic influence and power are disproportionately concentrated on Hollywood, television, and in the news industry, theoretically a boon in terms of the formation of favorable public images of Jews and sensitizing the American people to issues of concern to Jews." But Dr. Steinlight then tries to downplay this power: "ethnic dominance in an industry does not by itself mean that these centers of opinion and attitude formation in the national culture are sources of Jewish political power. They are not noticeably "Jewish" in the sense of advancing a Jewish agenda, Jewish communal interests, or the cause of Israel."
To the contrary, media exerts a powerful influence that will continue. And Steinlight's next comment shows a plan of action: "We will continue to court and be courted by key figures in Congress. That power is exerted within the political system from the local to national levels through 'soft money', and especially the provisions of out-of -state funds to candidates sympathetic to Israel." Concerned that massive immigration by Hispanics may dilute the influence of American Jews, Steinlight asks;" With the changes in view, how long do we actually believe that nearly 80 percent of the entire foreign aid budget of the United States will go to Israel?" ( Isn't it remarkable that 80% of our foreign aid goes to one little country.)
Currently there are 67 Pro-Israel Political Action Committees (PACs) who contribute mega-bucks to members of Congress. What these PACs want in return is continued U.S. support of Israel. Because of this lucrative arrangement our legislators might be inclined to quote the Greek poet Homer: "I sing the song of him whose bread I eat".
But surely Congress cannot ignore the recent catastrophe that took the lives of over 5000 innocent Americans. They must realize that by altering our Middle East policies, they might be able to prevent further mass carnage on our shores. It is certainly worth a try. Congress has an awesome responsibility and it must put the safety of Americans ahead of the wishes of lobbyists.
Today we are fearful of flying commercial airlines. We avoid crowded public places. We are afraid to open our mail, drink our water or eat our food. If the terrorist attacks continue, the next step is to don gas masks and move into bunkers. Are we willing to pay this price to maintain an Israeli homeland that doesn't benefit Americans and is becoming less and less important to Jews?
I think it is time for the USA to compute its own "cost versus benefit analysis" regarding our Middle East policy. If we factor in the possibility of increasing terrorist attacks on American soil, there is only one conclusion we can come to: stop meddling in the Middle East.