May 26, 2011

"A false sense of separation"

'We Don't Ask Your Sons and Daughters to Die on Our Soil' - By David French - The Corner - National Review Online:

...Serving a year in Iraq's Diayala Province with the 2d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, I was exposed to our jihadist enemy at close range. I saw their tactics, I learned their mindset, and we all experienced their absolute depravity. In conversations with Israelis who've been on the front lines of their own fight with Hamas and Hezbollah, the same themes and tactics emerge.

"We would track them and as they ran, they'd grab children by the arms and pull them along for protection."

"They traveled in ambulances, and fired out the back."

"Their weapons are hidden in mosques and they put missiles in the courtyards of schools."

And, most haunting of all:

"My friends died protecting Palestinian civilians, while their whole purpose is to kill our women and children."

Yet again and again we treat the "Israeli-Palestinian" conflict as if it is separate and apart from our own war against jihadists. We tell ourselves that Israel's conflict can be solved by the right signatures on the right pieces of paper when we hold no similar illusions for our own wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, we understand that the only prelude to real peace is victory over the jihadists. But when it comes to the Israelis, president after president — Republican and Democrat — works to stay Israel's hand.

Why the difference? Perhaps one answer can be found in the title of this post. In a particularly memorable meeting, a high-ranking official was describing Israel's friendship with America, and he added: "We don't ask your sons and daughters to die on our soil. We believe we can and should defend ourselves with our own soldiers. Your soldiers are in Europe, in Japan, in Korea, and elsewhere in the Middle East, but not here."

While this fierce independence has spared American presidents from making hard decisions regarding American lives, perhaps it has also created a false sense of separation. Without that shared sacrifice and shared experience we fail to understand our common enemy....

I've heard conservatives say we should support Israel because they are "reliable allies." Or because we should support free and tolerant countries. All true, but that's not the reason. Israel is us. It was founded by very ordinary people with an extra-ordinary dream. Pioneers who fled from under the control of European elites, and carved out a new nation from a wilderness, under the attacks of savages.

We can no more not defend Israel, than we can not defend Alaska.

Australia is somewhat similar, but they only separated from Britain in the 20th century. Their defining moment was a war fought for the crown, not against it!

* Update: Walter Russell Mead:

...Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don't 'get' Israel also don't 'get' America and don't 'get' God. Obama's political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: "I think it's clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace."...
Posted by John Weidner at May 26, 2011 6:54 AM
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