Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be Pro-Israel? Part 1

In my short time reading the Huffington Post talkback sections, I have come to the conclusion that there is no one there who is truly “anti-Israel.” Yep, even those who call for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of the Jews back to Europe claim that they only do so because they have the interests of the Jews at heart. Israel is on a suicidal course they say, and it is up to them and theirs to save her from herself. And if a few Nazi comparisons are made, and if a few accusations of “dual loyalty” are busted out, that is justified by the nobility of their cause.

This got me to thinking about what it means to be “pro-Israel.” Does it mean agreeing with everything Israel does, as many of the AZs claim AIPAC believes? Does it mean standing for Israel when it’s detractors line up out the door? Or does it mean doing what’s best for Israel even when it’s the last thing the Israelis are willing to do?

In that sense, there are two methods to be pro-Israel. What I call “the AIPAC method” and “the J Street method.” They both have their advantages and disadvantages. In this post I am going to talk about the AIPAC method. Click below to continue.

AIPAC bills itself as “America’s Pro-Israel lobby.” They believe that it is best for both America and Israel to have a strong relationship, and so they do the best they can to make sure it stays that way. AIPAC also believes that a secure Israel can lead to a secure America, and so they usually err on the side of the hawks rather than the doves when it comes to the peace process.

This has earned AIPAC quite a lot of flak from people who aren’t as hawkish or “right-wing” as they are, which in turn set the stage for the arrival of J Street, which I’ll talk about in the next pot. People like MJ Rosenberg in particular have accused AIPAC of pursuing it’s own agenda, in contrary to both the wishes of Israel and the United States. I’m not entirely sure I believe that. There are also accusations that AIPAC controls America, but that is too far off topic for me to deal with it right now.

The flaw with the AIPAC method is those times when Israel is wrong. As far as I have seen, AIPAC has never criticized Israel on anything. It also always takes the side of Israel over the side of the current American administration, and the most prominent example of that has been the recent Obama/Netanyahu scandal. Despite the claims of it’s detractors, this doesn’t mean that AIPAC are traitors or are secretly loyal to Israel over America. After all, disagreeing with the President is enshrined in the Constitution. But many people (and I am among them) think that to be pro-Israel doesn’t mean to blindly agree with Israel. AIPAC disagrees, though, they think that the Israelis knows what is best for Israel.

As it usually stands, the traditional view of what it means to be “pro-Israel” has usually been along the lines of the AIPAC method. Most of the “pro-Israel” users on the HP will defend Israel and not criticize her to the same extend that the AZs do. Does this make them hypocrites? I could see why some might think that, if it weren’t for the fact that this is something everyone does in all manner of discussions. Nevertheless, that is the key flaw with the AIPAC method: That Israel will rely on their supporters in America to defend all cases. But that will be continued in the next post.

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