Since President Obama arrived at the White House, I witness increasing tension between the United States and Israel — tension that is heading toward confrontation. I watch how one person is destroying an alliance that has been crafted over many years. This worries me on many levels: as a Jew, of course, but also as a gay man, as a Westerner, and as a rational man who loves freedom. Because, you see, I don’t have just one identity. I have many identities and I am proud of all of them. And while the state of Israel respects all my identities, the Islamic world would like to murder me for any single one of them.
During a news conference at the end of the summit about nuclear disarmament, President Obama echoed Gen. David Petraeus, who insinuated in recent congressional hearings that U.S. soldiers are hated by Muslims because of American support for Israel. That recalls to me the story that has surfaced off and on for thousands of years — that the Jews are the source of all the problems in the world.
Of course, today, we cannot say it in exactly those terms. That sounds way too 20th century. But what we can do, apparently, is substitute for the word “Jew” the word “Israel,” a country that is smaller than Lake Michigan and where Holocaust survivors built their new homes from the sand.
Just look at this statement without prejudice: American soldiers are hated in the Muslim world because of the U.S.-Israeli alliance. It is preposterous.
The Muslim world hated non-Muslims (“infidels”) for centuries, from long before Israel existed and the United States was allied with it. And today, they surely hate those who come from abroad to their country to bring them “democracy,” which they didn’t ask for. In fact, nobody likes American soldiers when they make their presence felt — neither Germans nor Italians nor Japanese, who are trying their best to push the U.S. base in Okinawa, with its rowdy inhabitants, off to Guam. And none of this has the slightest bit to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the U.S.-Israeli alliance.
There is a word that has existed for a long time: “anti-Americanism.” In
fact, Israel is one of the very few countries in the world that’s a
real friend to the United States.
Certainly, Israel is not
perfect. Certainly, Israel makes mistakes. I, for one, don’t support the
settler movement either. But Israel is not a vassal of the United
States. It must be allowed to make its own decisions.
should understand that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is not a
conflict between two political entities. It’s a conflict between two
worlds — one that is stuck in the Middle Ages and one that belongs to the
21st century. It’s a conflict between civilization and barbarism;
between freedom and oppression; between democracy and dictatorship;
between human rights and violations of human rights; between those who
treat gay people with respect and those who murder them, jail them,
torture them, and dismember them; between those who treat women like
equals and those who treat women like camels. Our articulate president
should not be confused about this.
So America is currently on
the path to losing one of its best friends. But President Obama and his
administration should be under no illusions: The world is not going to
love American soldiers more if the U.S. breaks up with Israel.