Memo to Nadler: This Is No “Existential” War for Israel

An article in this week’s Observer about the unanimity among New York politicians in supporting Israel’s bombing of Lebanon (surprise) contains an important statement by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (who was a brave opponent of the Iraq war):

[Nadler] equated support for Israel at this moment with support for the country’s right to exist at all…”This reminds me very much of the first week of June 1967, and I’m very worried about it. That was the week before the Six Day War broke out..”

Is that a realistic attitude? No. Look how much has changed since ’67. Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements with Israel. Israel’s existence may have been at risk through the ’73 war (we can argue about that), but who can say that now? It is a regional hegemon. Syria and Israel have been very close to peace; and Syria is so poor Israel could walk into Damascus tomorrow. Saudi Arabia has said approving things of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. Though yes Israel has an enemy in Iran, Iran—which by the way, used to be on the U.S. side in the war on terror, right up thru Afghanistan—is being faced down by the world. This latest fighting would seem to truly endanger the existence of Lebanon, not Israel.

Nadler’s emotional statements underscore what Henry Siegman told the Washington Post Magazine the other day:

“There’s a certain dynamic to organized Jewish life as to all so-called defense organizations created to protect a supposedly vulnerable group,” says Henry Siegman, who once served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress and now directs the U.S./Middle East project at the Council of Foreign Relations. “It creates a culture of victimhood, and it often attracts people who feel like they’re victims as well.”

As Michael Desch’s article on the “myth of abandonment” fostered by the Holocaust suggests, citing “existential” fears for Israel is an unconscious way of invoking the Holocaust to justify anything Israel does. The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto had no nuclear weapons.