July 15, 2006
Zionism and US Policy
This post has been moved to the Hobson's Choice wiki.
Posted by James R MacLean at July 15, 2006 10:42 AM
Hey - you're posting again.
I'm not sure why my POV is so freakish. Why would a leftist find it so hard to accept that the Jewish population of Israel is being exploited by opportunistic white gentile Americans?
What's your explanation of Israel's behavior when it was Soviet aligned? Are the US's post-67 interests that similar to the USSR's pre-67 interests?
Thanks so much for stopping by, MSW!
Israel's association with Moscow was mainly confined to the pre-Nasserist phase of Arab history. In 1953, when Eisenhower came to office in the USA, Washington's enthusiasm for Israel chilled because of the Baghdad Pact (CENTO). At that time, Washington was more concerned with the large Muslim states of Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. Israel was obviously a huge liability to the USA when attempting to cultivate political ties to Egypt's new military junta, the Free Officers.
It's often quite surprising to research the period in detail and discover how Moscow and Washington tried to woo all countries in the hopes of not antagonizing regional rivals. Pre-'56, the only Arab states that were not a royal dictatorship or colony were Lebanon (run by free market zealots) and Syria (which had creditable democratic credentials until 1949, but which was staunchly conservative). At the time, both the USA and USSR would supply nearly all countries with substantial amounts of foreign aid, and usually at least token amounts of military assistance. Most of Israel's military hardware was of Czech origin, via the Warsaw Pact.
The common Soviet interest with the Zionist government was, naturally, to relieve the headache of unwanted survivors of the Holocaust. A very large cohort of Israeli immigrants between '47-53 came from Communist bloc nations. After the death of Stalin, a more professional approach to foreign affairs meant a termination of the Soviet-Israel alliance. Diplomatic relations, however, were tolerable and there was episodic cooperation until the mid-1960's.
It needs to be be pointed out that, while the Cold War was a cruel and byzantine obsession with its principals, there was still a lot of opportunistic colloboration among intelligence agencies. The post-67 era in Israel-Soviet relations was of this character, although after '56 relations were naturally very strained. Countries include very large numbers of different entities pursuing incompatible aims abroad concurrently, as you are probably aware.
I'm not convinced. If Israel went from being exploited by opportunistic slavic Soviets to opportunistic white gentile Americans, why would the exploitation still take the form of military-enforced settlement of Palestine?
The Israel situation seems a lot like the Cuban situation - a group of Americans with extremist ideas (AIPAC, Dade County's Cuban exiles) who hold a point of key electoral/political leverage (swing voters in a swing state, AIPAC's fund-raising prowess).
I'm not convinced. If Israel went from being exploited by opportunistic Slavic Soviets to opportunistic White Gentile Americans, why would the exploitation still take the form of military-enforced settlement of Palestine?
In the case of the USSR's brief connection with Israel, the object was fairly similar to that of the Western powers: unload a headache-inducing refugee problem on a territory thought to have been incapable of protesting. When 1953-56 rolled around, and regime change occurred in both the USSR and in Egypt, the Soviet leadership redefined "Jew" from nationality (analogous to, say, Kyrgyz or Karelians) to class. This was all part of self-serving mythology, since the Jews of Central Europe were--mainly despite their own wishes in the matter--stuck in a place they did not belong.
If you're Jewish, a refugee, and even the USSR won't stand by you, then appealing to humanity and citizenship rights in Europe, or anything else, is not promising. You must fight or die.
The reason why the USSR had favored the creation of the Jewish State in Palestine was that Stalin believed Jews could never be assimilated to Central Europe. It was not politically tenable to repatriate Holocaust survivors to their homes in Central Europe, as far as Moscow was concerned.
During the period 1948-53, the precarious position of Israel made militarism seem like a necessary evil. The IDF became a central organizing element of the Jewish yeshiva in Palestine, and I think this is not surprising. However, the military could only acquire the weapons, intelligence, and training from established powers by colluding with their missions in the region. For the USSR, this meant human intelligence (HUMINT) against conservative Arab regimes, plus access to technically adequate facilities on the Mediterranean.
Soviet assistance declined after 1956, while the USSR began to equate Jews with an economic class, rather than a nationality. The successor was the Dutch and the French; the latter, of course, used the IDF as a reserve while the IDF received training and advanced military equipment.
The gradual rise of the IDF within Israeli society as a technically proficient organization with uniquely strong connections with the rest of the world, would lead to the same problems created by militarism everywhere. Assistance to the IDF was usually made in exchange for morally compromising services, such as joint training with the Union/Republic of South Africa, or assistance to Rhodesia. Such collusion was, naturally, covert and beyond the reach of the Israeli public. This tended, however, to spill over into a demonization of Israeli citizens and Jewish sympathizers.
National decisions are constrained by the past (people in all times and all places will avoid admitting to having committed a crime); such decisions are also constrained by expectations of what other nations will do. Finally, since nations--especially Israel, the Arab nations, and the USA--are deeply divided along sectional lines, decisions made by sectional elites are constrained by expectations of what the other section will do.
Sectionalism is THE method by which "secular evangelicals" (today, usually called "neoconservatives") hijacked the USA. Later this was used to cultivate a direct identification of the Israeli population as surrogates of US nationals. That achieved, the Israel Lobby was able to appeal to latent jingoism among Gentile Americans. Suddenly their job consisted of selling porn to bachelors, so to speak.
Since Israel was transformed into a totem of US power and American manifest destiny (in the minds of US nationals), it lost its Jewish character. The Jews of Israel were now, so to speak, along for the ride. They could exert agency over their own lives, provided it was compatible with this neoconservative agenda. Naturally, many Jewish Americans became neoconservative celebrities, but a celebrity is a product of his fans. The fans, therefore, are the key to understanding the tragedy unfolding in the Levant.
I hope this is helpful to you.