Skip to comments.ANDREW SULLIVAN: Anti-semitism sneaks into the anti-war camp
Posted on 10/20/2002 1:46:17 AM PDT by MadIvan
An article by a first-year student criticising what he regards as the anti-semitism tolerated at the United Nations appeared in last weeks Yale Daily News, the paper for the elite American university. If the article was typical fare the response to it was not. The author had touched a nerve and a torrent of anger was unleashed.
I recently attended a forum focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, wrote one respondent. Both sides made valid points but there was a heated exchange when the pro-Israel side initiated the anti-semite slur. I am sick and tired of Jewish people always smearing those that merely disagree with their views as evil.
I never thought Id say this but a lot of what the so-called white supremacists are saying (is) proving more accurate than I feel comfortable admitting.
Then there was the recent Not In Our Name rally in Central Park, demonstrating against a potential war against Iraq. Around the edges of the rally copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the classic forged document of 19th-century anti-semitism, were being sold. According to the New York Sun, this peddling of anti-semitic tripe was not entirely accidental.
One protester said: There are interest groups that want Israel to dominate Palestine. If Bush goes with them and is too critical, he might lose their support . . . the international financiers have their hooks in everything. Ah, those international financiers. Remember them? Americas anti-war movement, still puny and struggling, is showing signs of being hijacked by one of the oldest and darkest prejudices there is. Perhaps it was inevitable. The conflict against Islamo-fascism obviously circles back to the question of Israel. Fanatical anti-semitism, as bad or even worse than Hitlers, is now a cultural norm across much of the Middle East. Its the acrid glue that unites Saddam, Arafat, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran and the Saudis.
And if you campaign against a war against that axis, youre bound to attract people who share these prejudices. Thats not to say the large majority of anti-war campaigners are anti-semitic. But this strain of anti-semitism is worrying and dangerous.
Earlier this year there were calls for Americas universities to withdraw any investments in Israel. A petition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard attracted hundreds of signatures, prompting Larry Summers, the president of Harvard, to say that serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-semitic in their effect if not their intent. He said views that were once the preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists were now supported in progressive intellectual communities.
Summerss argument was simple: why has Israel alone been singled out as worthy of divestment? Critics cite its continued occupation of the West Bank. Theres no question that Israels policies there are ripe for criticism and that to equate such criticism with anti-semitism is absurd. Similarly, its perfectly possible to argue against Israels domestic policies without any hint of anti-semitism. But to argue that Israel is more deserving of sanction than any other regime right now is surely bizarre.
Israel is a multiracial democracy. Arab citizens of Israel proper can vote and freely enter society; there is freedom of religion and a free press. An openly gay man just won election to the Knesset. Compared with China, a ruthless dictatorship brutally occupying Tibet, Israel is a model of democratic governance. And unlike Chinas occupation of Tibet, Israels annexation was a defensive action against an Arab military attack.
Compare Israel to any other Middle Eastern country Syrias satrapy in Lebanon, Mubaraks police state, Iraqs barbaric autocracy or Irans theocracy and its a beacon of light. To single it out for attack is so self-evidently bizarre that it prompts an obvious question: what are these anti-Israel fanatics really obsessed about?
The answer, I think, lies in the nature of part of todays left. It is fuelled above all by resentment of the success western countries, and their citizens, have achieved through freedom and hard work. Just look at Israels amazing achievements in comparison with its neighbours: a vibrant civil society, economic growth, technological skills, an agricultural miracle.
It is no surprise that the resentful left despises it. So, for obvious reasons, do Israels neighbours. The Arab states could have made peace decades ago and enriched themselves through trade and interaction. Instead, rather than emulate the Jewish state, they spent decades trying to destroy it. When they didnt succeed, Arab dictators resorted to the easy distractions of envy, hatred and obsession.
Al-Qaeda is the most dangerous manifestation of this response; Hezbollah comes a close second. But milder versions are everywhere. And what do people who want to avoid examining their own failures do? They look for scapegoats. Jews are the perennial scapegoat.
This attitude isnt restricted to the Middle East. In the West the left has seized on Israel as another emblem of what they hate. Theyre happy to see Saddam re-elected with 100% of a terrified vote, happy to see him develop nerve gas and nuclear weapons to use against his own population and others. But over Israels occasional crimes in self-defence? They march in the streets.
Ask the average leftist what he is for, and you will not get a particularly eloquent response. Ask what he is against and the floodgates open. Similarly, ask the average anti-war activist what she thinks we should do about Iraq and the stammering begins. Do we leave Saddam alone? Send Jimmy Carter to sign the kind of deal he made with North Korea eight years ago?
Will pressurising Israel remove the nerve gas and potential nukes Saddam has? Will ceding the West Bank to people who cheered on September 11 help defang Al-Qaeda? They dont say and dont know. But they do know what they are against: American power, Israeli human rights abuses, British neo-imperialism, the racist war on Afghanistan and so on. Get them started on their hatreds, and the words pour out. No wonder they are selling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Central Park.
Such negativism matters. When a movement is based on resentment, when your political style is as bitter as it is angry and your rhetoric focuses not on those murdering party-goers in Bali or workers in Manhattan but on the democratic powers trying to protect them, your fate is cast. A politics of resentment is a poisonous creature that slowly embitters itself. You should not be surprised if the most poisonous form of resentment that the world has ever known springs up, unbidden, in your midst.
Talk about skewed reasoning. Because what was done was so awful, we're supposed to automatically conclude that the perpetrator had good reason, and to shift responsibility. That e-mailer is not even positing what LBJ's backstabbing was, still less offering evidence. And we're supposed to accept these hypotheticals on faith?
I repeat my request to you for evidence of what you are charging.
You keep demanding that I offer an explanation for Israel's attack. I admitted I don't know the reason, and for some reason you're not satisfied with that answer. You appear to want to conclude that, because I can't give you that answer, therefore the attack on the Liberty, which is well documented, did not happen. You're not reasoning logically.
Lol. As I said, it was here on FR. Go and look it up. From what you have let slip, you probably participated in the thread. Now you profess to know nothing :).
Of course, my view of things may be a little coldblooded for your delicate sensibilites. If I had been in the Israeli forces and been attacked by a supposed "ally", I'd have sent the ship to the bottom immediately rather than just disabling the communications. What's more, I'd not have bothered with warnings, polite requests, pleas or other niceties.
By the way, Dupuy was obviously totally unsatisfied with the official explanations of the attack on the Liberty, including the Israeli one. I can't quote the book now, as it's in my office.
Yes, you are cold-blooded. By the way, did you ever consider the possibility that whatever the Israelis concluded about what the Liberty was doing might have been wrong? Do you think it's proper to kill American sailors in total violation of international law, even when you've made a mistake?
The whole problem I had is that what SHOULD have happened was completely at variance with what DID actually happen. The Egyptian Army managed to achieve a higher state of situational awareness than was otherwise possible--which meant that they were getting help.
Like Dupuy, I am unsatisfied with the Israeli explanation for the Liberty. I am also enough of a realist to understand that we aren't going to get the honest-to-God truth because Israel understands its place as a Great Power client state--namely, that they are to make themselves look completely foolish in preference to embarrassing their Great Power patron. The United States isn't going to embarrass themselves. Therefore, we are not going to get the truth.
As for why the Liberty was assigned to that mission--do you really think that the government is some monolithic entity with perfectly coherent goals, and that nobody within that government is going to work counter to stated policy?
If you read my previous postings on this thread, you will see I have views similar to yours about why the Liberty was assigned to its mission.
Of course, I wasn't asking you... but since you answered and blame the American government for the Israeli attack on the American ship, what is the source of support for this revolutionary conclusion?
Since you bring up the subject of Pollard, it does bring other people to mind along your line of introduction.
These might include Messers Greenglas And Gold, for example,as well as the Rosenbergs.....But of this group of Jewish spies, it is likely that Klaus Fuchs did the most insideous and long lasting damage to America.
In the first Place, The Liberty was not a battleship as your respondent claimed.
On that June day in 1967, the weather was beautiful... Clear and sunny, visibility unlimited... the LIBERTY, an elaborate state-of-the art intelligence gathering platform, was in international waters off the Gaza strip and was flying the Stars and Stripes.
Israeli reconnaissance planes flew overhead for hours.Pilots and ship's crew waved to each other. Then, inexplicably, unmarked Israeli aircraft began attacking the ship.
This is not a harmless fairy tale as the "merry little band of apologists" would have you believe. An enormous number of American's were killed. Israel wants all Americans to "just forget about it."
I guess the propagandists think it sounds less bad if the ship the Israelis attacked was a big mean battleship.
The latest book on The Liberty reviewed by Daniel Pipes:
"The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Spy Ship. By Jay Cristol. Dulles, Va.: Brasseys, 2002. 294 pp. $27.50.
Rarely, if ever, has a single incident of war received the scrutiny given to Israels attack in the midst of the June 1967 War on the U.S.S. Liberty. This episode, which occurred on June 8, left 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded, was immediately acknowledged by Israeli authorities as a ghastly mistake; a multitude of Israeli and American inquiries then confirmed that an error lay at the heart of the tragedy. But conspiracy theories pointing to a purposeful Israeli attack arose quickly and have persisted through the years, promoted in part by members of the Libertys crew.
Cristola former U.S. naval aviator himself and presently a federal judge in Floridahas devoted fourteen years to ascertain what actually happened in the Mediterranean Sea off the Egyptian coast that day. His research is stunningly complete, tracking down what appears to be every available document and living participant in the drama, plus providing a great deal of contextual information. He reviews the issue in such great detail that it takes seven pages just to deal with the question of the U.S. flag flying on the Liberty (could the pilots have seen it? given the days winds, how visible was it? what about the possibility of it being a false flag?).
Cristol finds fault on both the Israeli and American sides (the latter, for example, failed to inform the Israelis of the ships presence) but comes to an unambiguous conclusion: the attack was indeed a mistake. After showing the impossibility of an intentional Israeli bombing, he then proceeds to show the absurdity of the conspiracy theories. (My favorite of them, from an Egyptian ambassador named Mahmud Qasim: the Israelis spliced the voice of Egypts Gamal Abdel Nasser to have him convince Jordans King Husayn into going to war against Israel then tried to cover up this trick by attacking the Liberty, a spy ship capable of figuring out the deception.) After demolishing these false notions, Cristol offers a generous interpretation to his vanquished opponents: The Liberty incident is a classic illustration of the terrible results that can occur when friendly forces fail to keep their friends informed of their movements.
...and much more "ability" not to be recognised as belonging to an ally.
But we didn't discuss that.
In spite of your tremendous scholastic achievements, the biggest of which is the ability to spell correctly the name of the author James Bamford, you avoid answering the question any investigation begins with: CUI BONO?
Let me quote two paragraphs from p. 226 of Bamford's Body of Secrets:
At 11:29 A.M. (5:29 P.M. Liberty), [Lyndon] Johnson took the unusual step of ordering the JCS to recall the fighters while the Liberty still lay smoldering, sinking, fearful of another attack, without aid, and with its decks covered with the dead, the dying, and the wounded. Onboard the flag ship of the Sixth Fleet, Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Geis, who commanded the carrier force in the Mediterranean, was angry and puzzled at the recall and protested it to Secretary McNamara.
Admiral Geis was shocked by what he heard next. According to information obtained for Body of Secrets, "President Lyndon Johnson came on with a comment that he didn't care if the ship sunk, he would not embarrass his allies." Admiral Geis told Lieutenant Commander David Lewis, the head of the NSA group on the Liberty, about the comment but asked him to keep it secret until after Geis died. It was a promise that Lewis kept.
So, while Cristol's claim may technically have been correct (the order came from LBJ, not McNamara,) the overall effect of his presentation was deceptive. Not for nothing was Cristol trained as a lawyer.
Let me turn the question around and ask you: who do you think benefited? Just what are you driving at?
Do you really believe the Israeli story that they thought it was an Egyptian ship of an entirely different size and shape?
By Bryant Jordan Staff Writer Marine Corps Times From Navy Times 7-7-2
Thirty-five years after Israeli air and naval forces attacked a lightly armed U.S. Navy spy ship during the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the CIA director at the time and the legal counsel to the Navy's court of inquiry say the attack was deliberate.
"It was no accident," former CIA director Richard Helms said May 29, bucking that agency's June 13, 1967, report that indicated the incident could have been a mistake.
Retired Navy legal counsel Capt. Ward Boston says he and the court's president, the late Rear Adm. Isaac "Ike" Kidd, always believed Israeli forces knowingly attacked the Liberty.
"I feel the Israelis knew what they were doing. They knew they were shooting at a U.S. Navy ship," said Boston, who lives in Coronado, Calif. "That's the bottom line. I don't care how they tried to get out of it."
The attack killed 34 men and wounded 172 others, and sparked a long-running controversy: Did Israel knowingly try to sink the American ship or did it believe the ship was an Egyptian vessel?
Officially, the Navy exonerated Israel on June 18, 1967 - 10 days after the attack - when the Navy court of inquiry found that available evidence indicated the attack was a case of mistaken identity.
THE COURT OF INQUIRY
Boston said Kidd told him he believed the attack was deliberate and that the Israelis knew the ship was American.
That flies in the face of the findings of Kidd's court, and also what the author of a new book on the Liberty says Kidd told him in interviews in the early 1990s.
A. Jay Cristol, a federal judge in Florida and retired Navy aviator who also served in the service's Judge Advocate General's Corps, is the author of the upcoming "The Liberty Incident."
"Kidd told me an entirely different story," said Cristol, whose new book is dedicated to Kidd, who died in 1999.
Cristol said that during one interview with Kidd in December 1990, Kidd related that when he brought the court's report to then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. David Lamar McDonald, the CNO asked him, "Ike, was it intentional?"
"Ike said, 'No, Admiral,'" Cristol recalled.
But Boston remembers that when Kidd returned from Washington, he said officials were not interested in hearing the truth.
"In military life, you accept the fact that if you're told to shut up, you shut up. We did what we were told," Boston said.
He explained that he is willing to talk now because "everyone else is shooting their mouth off."
Boston said he does not know whether his beliefs were shared by the other members of the court, Capts. Bert M. Atkinson Jr. and Bernard J. Lauff.
Lauff could not be located for comment. Atkinson died in 1999.
But Boston's statements do put him now in the camp of retired Adm. Merlin Staring, who as a captain and staff legal officer in London was initially told to review the court's report.
Staring said June 3 that the report was taken from him before he finished his review, but based on what he had seen, the evidence did not support the contention that the attack was an accident.
Staring concedes he still has not read the entire report.
Staring, who went on to become the Navy's top JAG officer, is now part of a newly formed Liberty Alliance, which includes former CNO and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Thomas Moorer and two Marine Medal of Honor recipients, Gen. Ray Davis and Col. Mitchell Paige.
The group wants a full congressional investigation into the attack and is lobbying military organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, hoping to garner support among their members, said Tito Howard, the group's executive director.
SURVIVORS ALLEGE CONSPIRACY
Many Liberty survivors and their supporters long have maintained that the attack was deliberate and that the Kidd report excluded testimony from crew members that would have shown that.
Boston recalled that testimony was taken from crew members who said the Israelis fired on life rafts when they were put into the water.
The court's report includes testimony indicating the shooting of the life rafts was incidental, occurring when the ship was strafed by Israeli jets.
Some allege Israel wanted the spy ship sunk to ensure it did not pick up communications showing Israel was planning to seize the Golan Heights from Syria. Others say it was to prevent Liberty from intercepting communications dealing with an alleged Israeli massacre of Egyptian POWs in the Sinai.
Some Liberty survivors and supporters claim the U.S. government covered up the incident to avoid a conflict with Israel that could have cost the Johnson administration support among Jewish voters and supporters. Subsequent administrations and Congresses have avoided a thorough airing of the incident for the same reasons, they say.
But Cristol says there have been 10 U.S. investigations, ranging from the court of inquiry and the CIA's report to several conducted by House and Senate committees.
Five drew no conclusions regarding Israel, according to a list compiled by Cristol, while others accepted that it was an accident.
The most recent official look at the incident was in 1991, when the House Armed Services subcommittee on investigations found no evidence to support the Liberty survivors' claim that Israel attacked the ship deliberately.
REPORTS AND RECOLLECTIONS
The CIA's report, the earliest of those assembled, held open the possibility that the attack was a case of mistaken identity - the finding that the Kidd court went on to make five days later - though it did not present that as a conclusion.
In the June 13, 1967, report, the CIA stated that "an overzealous pilot" could have mistaken the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, the El Quesir. Helms, the former CIA director, declined to discuss the incident at length.
"I've done all I can. I don't want to spend the rest of my life in court" testifying about the incident, he said.
Mike Weeks, a naval aviation writer and amateur historian who studied the official Navy communications that occurred during and after the attack and believes it was an accident, said there is more information on the Liberty still classified and believes the government should release all of it.
"Just put it out there and see how it flows," he said. "The bottom line, all this stuff ought to be let loose, for heaven's sake." ___
Bryant Jordan is a staff writer for Marine Corps Times.