Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Israel must stay the hell out of U.S. debate on Iraq

Israel must stay the hell out of U.S. debate on Iraq
Haaretz Bradley Burston 13/03/2007

Ehud Olmert suffers from a learning disability found at times among people who know themselves to be brilliant:

They fail to learn the first thing.

Take the debate within the United States over the war in Iraq.

The first thing for an Israeli prime minister to know about the debate is this: Stay the hell out of it.

The second thing might well be: If you're thinking about addressing the American Jewish community on an issue of intense sensitivity, take a long second look before you say the first thing that comes to mind.

But Olmert, being Olmert, couldn't resist. And as a chaser, he chose the worst possible venue, the closely scrutinized national convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pro-Israel lobby, to declare that an early U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would destabilize the entire Middle East.

"Those who are concerned for Israel's security, for the security of the Gulf States and for the stability of the entire Middle east should recognize the need for American success in Iraq and responsible exit," Olmert announced, via video link.

"Any outcome that will not help America's strength and would, in the eyes of the people in the region, undercut America's ability to deal effectively with the threat posed by the Iranian regime will be very negative," he added.

Perhaps the first thing that Olmert should have considered was this: A recent Gallup poll showed that Jewish Americans are the most strongly opposed to the war of all U.S. religious groups.

In fact, opinion polls have shown that a majority of Jews has opposed the war since 2003. Even Jewish Republicans, who support Bush on other issues have shown themselves opposed to the Iraq campaign.

The second thing for Olmert to have considered is the extent to which Jewish neo-cons and Israel have been blamed for the decision to enter the war.

So, not one to quit when he's behind, Olmert trudged on. Only U.S. President George W. Bush and the United States can effectively confront Iran's attempt to boost its nuclear capacity, Olmert announced, his message served with a soupcon of understated Zionist-spiced emotional blackmail.

"All of you who are concerned about the security and the future of the state of Israel understand the importance of strong American leadership addressing the Iranian threat, and I'm sure that you will not hamper or restrain that strong leadership unnecessarily," he said.

When Ariel Sharon was in power, he once said that the prime minister of Israel had a responsibility to view his actions as if he were a prime minister for the Jewish people wherever they are.

Olmert would be well advised to heed his stricken mentor's words.

For once in his life, Olmert should consider thinking twice.

US, Israel, and Iran
(Jalal Al-Rifa'i, Al-Dustour, 2/28/06).