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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 14, 2003

The Likudnik Factor

This an issue often raised in Leftist commentary in opposing a war with Iraq. It is helpful I believe to get it out in the open for discussion. Sure. there are a number of top hawks that are Jewish, and the implication then is that they are hawkish because of a love of Israel. In other words, those duplicitous Jews are a part of the Israeli/Jewish lobbly. On the other hand, the article does not note that Saddam sends 25 thousand dollars to each family of a suicide bomber. Most suicide bombers are from Hamas. Hamas is an American -listed terror organization. Thus, Saddam supports terrorism.
Don't Rush Me, II: "The Likudniks are really in charge now." WaPo's Robert Kaiser has tried to raise an issue that Slate's Michael Kinsley attempted to raise a few months ago, namely the influence, among the administration's hawks, of what Kaiser carefully calls people with "loyalty to strong positions in support of Israel and Likud." Kinsley wrote that "the role of Israel in the thinking of [President Bush] is the "proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it."

Like the New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, Kaiser notes without much comment that three top Bush hawks (Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser) were on an 8-person committee that in 1996 proposed to incoming Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he abandon the Oslo peace accords negotiated in 1993 and reject the basis for them -- the idea of trading "land for peace." Israel should insist on Arab recognition of its claim to the biblical land of Israel, the 1996 report suggested, and should "focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." [Emphasis added]

As someone trying to make up his mind about the war, am I troubled by the unspoken, widely-acknowledged influence of the Likudniks? Yes! I'm not a Mideast expert. I'm an ordinary citizen with inherently limited and imperfect information. How close is Saddam really to having a bomb? How long would neighboring Arab states tolerate a massive U.S. troop presence to back up inspections? Even "senior government officials" don't know the answers to these questions, but I will never know as much as they do. To some extent, they are asking me – us -- to trust them. Which means it's very relevant to us ordinary citizens what conscious or subconscious motives might be skewing their decision in favor of war.

In other respects, the risks to Israel may be greater than the risks to America. But the point is that the interests, even of two such close allies, can and almost certainly do diverge. [more]
For more on this contentious issue: I have found this at Instapundit. And he also notes the Gary Hart speech (and do see comments after) at Gary Hart speech posted at Talk