There is nothing as dangerous as a desperate ideologue armed with a minimal amount of knowledge. An excellent case in point is Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post. This past week in Glick's ongoing saga of fighting to make sure Israel never even explores any compromises with the Palestinians, she argues for turning Israel into a partisan wedge issue in the United States.
As near as I can make out Glick's argument runs something like this:
- Democrats increasingly hate Israel and Republicans love Israel;
- The proof of the above thesis is a Rube Goldberg calculation whereby she counts "anti-Israel" votes over time on a hodge-podge of minor resolutions and letters and does not even take into consideration such a classical pro-Israel scoring issue like support for foreign aid -- a pro-Israel position which many Republicans oppose, and most in the House have voted against;
- Support for her "pro-Israel" positions are so popular with the larger American electorate that they would be a tremendous engine for swinging voters over to the Republicans this November;
- AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups are either so scared or so clueless that they ignore these realities;
- Republican control over the U.S. House of Representatives would insure "pro-Israel" policy by the United States;
- Ergo let's make Israel another one of the countless wedge issue in U.S. elections.
For sixty years all Israeli governments as well as pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States have argued that bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is vital. The current Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, a respected historian of the U.S.-Israel relationship, is the most outspoken advocate of bipartisan, pro-Israel advocacy.
This bipartisan consensus is based on a hard-headed analysis of what is in Israel's best interest. There is a widespread agreement that Israel's long-term security depends on support from a sympathetic United States. Only the type of messianists who argue "the Lord will provide" might disagree and Jewish history - witness the Bar Kokhba rebellion--does not provide much support for that messianist position.
Since World War II no political party has controlled both the legislative and the executive branch of American government for more than eight years consecutively. Unless one believes that the GOP will reverse this trend and win all national elections for generations to come, making Israel a partisan issue is a terrible strategy for maintaining U.S.-Israel friendship.
Yet even if one assumed that Glick is the most gifted political prognosticator and that Republicans are on the verge of winning every presidential and congressional election for decades to come, Glick's logic and arguments are badly flawed. First she appears to define pro-Israel in such a hawkish manner that a sizeable majority of Jewish Israelis, nearly all the Jews in the Congress and almost all American Jews would have to be defined as anti-Israel.
She also argues that her definition of pro-Israel-- someone who supports no compromise with Palestinians and who argues for indefinite Israeli control over the Palestinian population centers of the West Bank-- is so popular with the American electorate that it is a magic formula for Republican winning election after elections. Glick is clearly someone who knows nothing about American voters and American public opinion.
To further prove her lack of understanding of American politics, she tells us that one Jewish incumbent Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, may well be defeated by a more hawkish Jewish Republican challenger. This is one of the more Democratic districts in the Midwest. Even the most optimistic GOP congressional campaign operatives disagree with Glick and as one highly respected political analyst recently told me, "that's simply not going to happen."
Perhaps Glick is most clueless when she talks about how the House of Representatives will initiate major foreign policy moves. Glick takes it as a given that the GOP will run the House in 2011 and speculates that the Republican House will be able to insure that Israel gets any weapon systems it needs from the United States to attack Iran. This is a terribly uniformed view of how the modern Congress works. Congress can often "nudge" a president in one direction or another on foreign policy but the Congress simply does not unilaterally undertake major foreign policy initiatives. Giving Israel the green light to attack Iran is simply beyond the power of John Boehner and Eric Cantor.
So why does a columnist for a serious Israeli newspaper spout such nonsense on an issue which is central to Israel's long-term security? We can only speculate. But if you have a feverishly-held policy position which cannot be sustained by reality, then you can either give up your fantasy or you can try to make up facts that will fit your fantasy. With her call for making Israel a partisan wedge issue she has chosen the latter course of action. Those who adopt her fantasy are playing a very reckless and dangerous game with Israel's future.